Anyone preparing for business portraits photo session is certainly asking “What should I wear?”. I answered this question in my article I need a “business” portrait! partially. This time I will offer more specific tips.
“Business professional” or “Business casual”?
It depends on the usage of business portrait and what profession and position has photographed person. Although borders between these two styles are not precisely defined, fundamental differences are obvious:
- for men it is suit, shirt, tie. For women elegant skirt or trouser suit, shirt, sleeve dress with blazer. In both cases closed shoes are must.
- photographs in such clothes are suitable for most of purposes: for resume, annual report or as your profile picture on the corporate web-site. Higger the position of the photographed person and more formal dress-code in certain profession is expected (eg in professions such as attorney, auditor, professions in the financial sector …), the wider usage will have business portrait in business professional style for him/her.
- there is much more to choose in this style. For the men are eligible: long trousers combined with a shirt without tie, polo shirt or one-coloured shirt and jacket or pullover. For the women: different combinations of trousers, blouses, shirts, dresses, skirts, … Beware of length of skirts. Mini are indeed sexy, however, not suitable for business portrait. Jeans are not considered as “business casual”. Perhaps regular employees of IT companies can have an exception from this rule. Shoes can be opened, but slippers, clogs and flip-flops leave at home.
- portrait in “business casual” style is suitable as profile photography on social networks (especially LinkedIn), illustration photo for PR articles or can be used in company materials in certain situations. This kind of business portrait can have much wider usage In professions where wearing of suit is not normally expected (eg. advertising, human resources, IT, …).
Long respectively three-quarter sleeves look better in both cases. Rather avoid bare shoulders completely. Very important role play material and cut of the clothing. However, I leave consultancy in this area to professionals :-).
It is very important that you feel comfortable in your clothes and it fits you very well. No retouching will help when your costume´s size is smaller or your shirt´s size is bigger than your actual size (collar which gaps away from the neck looks especially bad).
Which colours are the best?
The best choice is to combine one-coloured clothing. Patterns and prints distract from your face. However, this does not apply to fine patterns, which are part of the cloth´s structure, respectively their colour is very close to the base color (e.g. fine strips).
The combination of dark black suit/costume and white shirt/blouse is a classic style, and it is suited for conservative profession especially. Dark shades of gray, brown, blue, green of suit/costume supplemented by light color shirts/blouses look very elegant. As regards women´s costumes, there is much wider color range. Replace dark black by chocolate brown, navy blue or green. Midtones of blue, green, burgundy and purple looks very elegant. Be careful when using body colors such as cream, beige, yellow to avoid blending with your face. A good option is to choose a color that accentuates your eyes.
What about make-up and hair-styling?
- first point is devoted to men, it is much easier for them. The transparent powder which prevents skin before glittering is quite enough,
- make-up should be natural,
- use a thick layer of translucent powder – your face will look perfect at the photos. Shine disappears, pores are reduced, skin will look smooth and any redness will be more subtle,
- retrace the lips by pencil, apply a matte lipstick and retrace by pencil again. Do not overdo it. Immerse a cotton stick into powder and then go along the line of your lips to prevent bleeding of lipstick,
- avoid products with shine,
- do not try a new hairstyle before shooting (you may need time for adaptation to the new styling or you may want to give your hair grown a bit),
- do not try a new product on the hair, face or body a few days before shooting. You can have allergic reaction, whichcan be hard to correct by retouching.
You can, of course, let professional make-up and hair stylist to prepare you for photo session.
Accessories – yes or no?
It is advised to apply KISS principle = “Keep It Simple Stupid”. By other words it means – less is sometimes more and it is absolutly true regarding accessories in business photography.
And at the end: it is certainly a good idea to consult your look and clothes with your partner or with a friend who knows you very well. However, if you personally are not comfortable with any colour or style, you should search in your wardrobe further … 🙂