How to Prepare for your Business Portrait:

Professional Business Portraits and suits go great together
These two radio hosts set the stage for what they plan to discuss by wearing politically charged ties.

Every business portrait experience is different. Some people are incredibly nervous and some people couldn't care less. It varies from person to person, but it's important to remember that your photo should represent yourself. Yes, it's important to impress clients, but not in a manner that would come across as disingenuous. There's no point in dressing like you're going to ball if none of your clients will recognize you. So, with that being said, don't over do it. The photo is about you, so just relax and be yourself and let the photographer do the rest.

Dress how you would on any given professional day.

Woman look great in collared button-ups, also.

If you were a fashion designer of women's clothing or a tailor of men's suits, it would be expected that you would dress yourself in a manner that reflects your profession. Likewise, if you're a lawyer or banker, you most likely wear a suit everyday, or at least a tie. It's what is expected of you from your customers, peers, and employers. Similarly, painters and artists rarely dress in 3-pieces, not out of an inability, but simply because it isn't needed or expected. So, before you get ready for the shoot, ask yourself this, “Would I normally wear this?” Would your peers or coworkers be shocked by your outfit or would it fit in with your day to day? Would anyone recognize you? That's really important.

Dress to match your potential customer's expectations.

Business portraits can be casual too.

Half of a business portrait is instilling recognition and recall to the customer so that when the need arises they know who to call and they remember you first. So, put your professional foot first and dress how you want your clients to see you.

Wear your favorite clothes/colors.

Wear your favorite shirt that matches your best pants. Chances are, you wear it often, meaning clients and co-workers will easily recognize you; but also, you're creating a comfort zone by wearing your favorite clothes and that will give you more confidence and self-identity during the shoot.

Wear tonally similar or complementary colors.

Find the color that you think will work best and then pick out several matching items of similar color or complimentary color. It's helpful to avoid outlandish colors that clash with others. Avoid Hunter Orange and stick to colors that are easily complementary. Thankfully, many websites and business cards are simple deviations on white and grey, which are complimented by practically any color.

A great resource for matching and complimenting colors.
"Color star-en (tertiary names)" by Kwamikagami - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons.

Take a look at this handy color wheel above to help you decide on your colors. It's always best to either dress in a single color that varies in brightness and darkness or to dress in one bold color with a complimentary color alongside it. You can always tell what's a complimentary color because it will be situated directly across the color wheel from the color you've selected.

Be aware of your background.

The woman in this picture is lit well and stands out, but her shirt blends into the background.

Take a moment and think critically about all the places this image will be shown. Is there a singular theme that unites them? You want to make sure that the background you select and the clothes you wear won't clash with the digital or physical surroundings that your photo will be placed in.

Avoid uniformity. If you select a brown background, for goodness sake, don't choose a brown blazer! Your image is meant to pop out from the background, so please, don't dress in camouflage. Be aware of the colors you'd like to use for the background so that you can avoid wearing them.

Dress in layers or wear accents.

Don't be afraid to wear a suit or dress up in your business portrait.

When in doubt, layer and accent the color you've selected with matching or complimentary items. Ties are a great example of an accent that can be engaging, and attention grabbing. When picking out accent items for your outfit, consider dressing in complimentary or similar colors like mentioned earlier.

Bring a spare change of clothes!

It's always better to have more options than less, so feel free to bring extra clothes or accent items to try on. At the Peter James Studios, we have a full service dressing room for all of our clients to use. Bring a couple outfits and let's see what looks best.

Let's review:

1. Dress how you would on any given professional day.
2. Dress to match your potential customer's expectations
3. Wear your favorite clothes/colors.
4. Wear tonally similar or complimentary colors
5. Be aware of your background.
6. Dress in layers or wear accents.
7. Bring a spare change of clothes!

Most importantly, don't stress about it and work it up in your head. Just be yourself and have faith in the photographer. We have mirrors, changing rooms, and brushes on hand. If anything, bring a spare change of clothes and let's take a photo of both outfits and select your favorite. Let's take the photo that you want and need without compromise.