5 Portrait Photography Do's & Dont's

General style guidance

For a portrait photography or dance photoshoot session.

The questions people often ask me before a photoshoot is how they should come dressed or style their child's hair for a photograph, or what makeup works best, etc. so I thought I'd put together my personal preferences for styling both portraits and dance photography shoots.  The camera, the lens and the lighting I choose can all play a huge part in complimenting the person having their photo taken.  However, some makeup and hair styles work better in camera than others.  Here are my recommendations:

emma fine art portrait

No 1

Children & makeup

Children & pre teen, really do not not need any makeup for photoshoots, the absolute most I would recommend would be the lightest touch of mascara to accentuate their eyes and lip balm to soften the skin on their lips.  If their skin is oily, a little translucent powder can help mattify the skin, which looks better in a fine art style portrait.  I like to let their youthful skin shine through!


No 2

Children and hair (Portraits)

Hair without product every time.  If your child has wild unruly hair, I'd rather we styled it by putting it in braids around the head, in space buns or a large loose plait.  Boys with long hair can always tie it back,  but no gels, hairsprays etc.  Sometimes the artificial shine is really noticeable in the camera and often I'll use a fan to create movement in the hair and this will also affect the outcome of this.

dancer leaping photograph

No 3

Hair (Dance photography)

Hair should (almost always) be up in a ponytail or bun, I have learned the hard way that hair down can ruin a great movement shot; the body and position can be spot on but the hair a big mess.  Obviously it will depend on the length and type of hair you have.

close up beauty shot

No 4

Teenagers & adults makeup for portraits

Keep it simple, you can wear as much makeup as you like but keep all the tones natural, including lipstick. When I do professional photoshoots the model will always wear a lot of makeup, even when it is very un-made up looking in the shot.  Eyeliner (only if done well) and mascara work fine in a portrait and really do help to enhance the eyes, but false eyelashes and highlighter can have the opposite effect, creating really shiny highlights and heavy hooded eyes.

Fine art photograph

No 5

What to wear?

Florals, dresses, blouses, shirts.  Natural fabrics, like wool, cotton and linen work well.  Dancers can wear leotards or dance wear.  I don't photograph people in garments which have logos or tv characters etc.  After all, it's not an advertising campaign but a timeless photograph which should stand the test of time.