Outfit Selection for Perfect Portraits | Planning The Shoot Around The Client's Clothing | Paul Wilkinson | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Outfit Selection for Perfect Portraits | Planning The Shoot Around The Client's Clothing

teacher avatar Paul Wilkinson, Portrait Photographer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

8 Lessons (14m)
    • 1. The Suitcase Challenge

    • 2. Pre-shoot Part 1: The Client's Selection

    • 3. Pre-shoot Part 2: Looking through the suitcase

    • 4. Outfit 1: The Stripey Shirt

    • 5. Outfit 2: The Blue Dress

    • 6. Outfit 3: The Black Dress

    • 7. Outfit 4: The Black Strappy Top

    • 8. Your Turn | What's Next

  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

When a client turns up with a suitcase of clothes - or even just the outfit they've got on - how should what they wear affect the type of portrait you create? In this video, model Sophie arrives at my studio with an array of outfits that I'm seeing for the first time. I select a handful of them, talk through the shots I visualise based on the outfits, then go outdoors and into the studio to create those shots.

I share lighting tips, explain how I match location with clothing choices and share my images straight-out-of-the-camera (with camera settings) as well as the finished edits.

Afterwards, use your new skills to create better images of your clients so you can start making a living from your photography - and don't forget to upload what you create so that we can give feedback!


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Paul Wilkinson

Portrait Photographer


Paul is one of the UK's most sought-after portrait and wedding photographers - not just for his eye for an image but for the manner in which they are created (mostly laughing, always relaxed!)

His images have adorned numerous publications from the BBC to the Times and have won countless awards as well as giving him the accolade of Fellowship of the Master Photographers Association.

He and his team are based near Oxford in the UK though often you'll find him clutching his passport and his cameras as he creates images for people across the globe!

This class is brought to you by the Mastering Portrait Photography team!

See full profile

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%
Reviews Archive

In October 2018, we updated our review system to improve the way we collect feedback. Below are the reviews written before that update.

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. The Suitcase Challenge: you have a shoot booked in the diary. Your client turns up and they have a suitcase full of clothes, None of which are the items you are expecting. How do you deal with that in this video? We're going to do precisely that. Sophie. Our model is gonna come along. She's gonna bring a selection of outfits that she loves. But I have no idea what they are. Piece by piece. We're gonna create some really beautiful images. I'm poor Wilkinson on this is mastering portrait photography. 2. Pre-shoot Part 1: The Client's Selection: So when your client brings clothing, we're gonna assume one thing to start with, and that is the client loves everything they've brought. I'm gonna assume they haven't what clothes they don't like. So the client probably would wish to be photographed in everything they bring, or at least most of what they bring. Or maybe they just think, you know, bring a variety. But I do know they're not going to reject anything. So I've got car plant to pick and choose from the outfits they've brought the challenges of photographer does is that each outfit will lend itself to different things. So let's say they come with a white white top and jeans, a fairly standard thing. Then, of course, my mind might think it won't you know what would be a great studio image on a white background? I'm not saying that's the only shot that will work in this situation, but my job is a professional portrait photographer is to create the best images that I can every time I have a client every time I have a client, not just on Tuesdays, and so what we do is every time a client turns up and they bring out their outfits, or even if it's just what they're wearing is they turn up if they've not brought to change clothes. Racing through my mind are the ideas that might create a really beautiful image. If they've come with vibrant patterns, maybe I put negates the plane war. If they've come with something playing, maybe I still put my playing against the plane will. Or maybe I put them against the patterns in the garden. Every outfit will lend itself to an image of my job is to visualize those images. I'm going to try and avoid check patterns because check patterns notoriously tricky with digital senses. If you get that wrong, you're gonna have Mori. If you photograph someone with a pinstripe suit, if you get it just wrong and there's no way of knowing you got it wrong until later, he might get these strange and wonderful patterns. You're not gonna put colors together that clash, or if you are, you're gonna maybe choose a black and white image. You're going to do things so that the image in your head when you look at those outfits and you look at your client, you're thinking this is gonna be amazing. This this is going to be an absolutely beautiful image. And you just do that outfit after outfit after outfit and you laugh and you love every second of it. 3. Pre-shoot Part 2: Looking through the suitcase: So I admit I don't normally sit with a pile of Mike Weitz close on my lap to go through it , but we would talk through the clothes they brought with them. Eso That's exactly what we're gonna do. We try and figure out what kinds of shots might work. Make a prediction and see if that comes to be true. So a blue maxi dress, I can tell it's gonna be fairly figure hugging, given it's about that white when you hang it up. But Sophia look incredible, and in it the type of shot I'd be thinking for this. It's either something, maybe in the studio, with a very plain backdrop where a little bit of shape from Sophie An S curve would look great. But also, this would look great out with one of the walls outside where we can, you know, use a brick wall. Or maybe he's a lime washed war where your eyes are going to go straight to the blue. Everything else would be a uniform color. One of things I'm always looking for in an image is if I can, I'll tie the colors together. But of course, there's very little outside that's that color that I'm gonna be a unifying palette with. So with bright colors like this, Actually, what I'm looking to do is make a statement out of it. One thing we do have outside is a bright yellow door. And I'm wondering whether a shot of Sophie in a bright yellow door in a bright blue dress might look kind of super cool. So a black dress with sleeves tight, Of course. You know, may. I'm gonna put this against a dark background light around the edges. Beautiful tones, beautiful shape. This is one of those where you really can unify the palate now. So has really fair skin, really fair hair. So actually, the whole thing would just be a supporting curve and shape for her face. Nice way of doing it. And I think that be absolutely stunning. I could equally do it against the high key background and have this very dark curve leading up to Sophie's face against a white background. I'm not trying to say there's only one way of shooting these things. I'm trying to explain that as I'm putting it together, I'm thinking all this might make a really beautiful image on this might be the most beautiful image that I can possibly create. Jeans. Of course, jeans are timeless, always great. When I plants to help me jeans, they look great on a white background in the great in the dark background and they look great outdoors, The one and only timeless garment eso. We'll pair that, probably with the black T shirt, maybe the white T shirt. All of that would look incredible. Now check trousers Game. Got to be a bit careful with checked patterns. My instinct always is ever gonna shoot this. I'd shoot it last when I know I'd not got anything else to do. Because if you get this wrong, you get more a patterning, Okay, whether check the pattern of the Czech, interacts with Bayer pattern on the sensor in the camera, and that is not very helpful. The only fix for it, once you've created it, is a lot of working further shock. It doesn't take too long, but if you're doing that on each and every image, it's trust me, a real pain to do so unless I had to do it, I'd always avoid using small checks like this in the shirt or in trousers. I'm sure that the client loves it. I'm sure that is really beautiful on, but from a photographer standpoint, I'm gonna do my damnedest to avoid doing anything with that, and that is the beginnings of a wardrobe based game plan. 4. Outfit 1: The Stripey Shirt: So here we are. Outfit one location, one shot, one on All I've done really is. Look at what Sophie's wearing and think. But it's beautiful. She's wearing a stripey shirt. It's very lifestyle. E. It's off the shoulder, its summary. And, of course, at this time of year, life is beautiful round here Now in my head, all I'm trying to do the whole time is visualized what the images might look like. What kind of images can we create that would make sense with the outfit that I'm seeing in front of me and here in my head all happens. I visualized lifestyle magazines, holiday magazines, holiday brushes and there's something about the outfit the Sophie's wearing and something about this location. It seemed to work together, so we've picked a spot. We're standing right outside the studio door. The sandstone walls add warmth on with Sofia's beautiful skin and the skin tone that's all gonna work quite well together. There's sunlight wrapping all the way around. This is bouncing off all of the surfaces, which gives us a really warm, beautiful, rich like to work in, though we're keeping Sophie firmly in the shade, and if you look at these Final image is what I'm hoping is that her blue eyes would just pop through because all of the light reflecting off the floor will just make them dance. It should be absolutely stunning. 5. Outfit 2: The Blue Dress: believe Dress, Maxie. Jess. Apparently, I didn't know that. But as predicted, Sophie looks amazing in it. And sometimes with photography, in fact, nearly always with photography, the simpler the better. So all I've done is try to find a nice spot off light, a nice plane background where I'm just gonna take advantage off Sophie, shape the blue of the dress and everything else just pales into insignificance. If I try to look somewhere else, where is complicated? I could have done and the dress would still equally look great. But here all I want to do is have something very graphical. Very simple, very elegant. Looking at Sophie's outfit, she just looks amazing. Anything that for me jars a little bit of the shoes, the sparkles, everything right. But with a dress like this, I'd expected to be in heels. So you get that extension on that height. So I'm gonna ask Sophie to do is just kick a shoes off and then just rise up onto a toes and they go on that for May feels a whole lot more natural. It feels a whole lot more in keeping with the styling of the dress, even though actually, her feet may well not be in shot in the final images. It just feels a more natural, more stylish image. Sometimes the shoes are too much. So some points to note are the wall is a light cream which lends itself to this kind of photography. Were working in the shade. There's sunlight either ends here. But right here, where we're standing is pretty shady. All I'm gonna ask Sophie to do is just curves near no feet down, toe up me across. Thank you very much, Hinds. At different heights, please. Thank you very much. It is that simple, peaceful and elegance. How hard can it be? 6. Outfit 3: The Black Dress: But here's the thing. Sophie is now weighing her doctor s. And so we've come up to the studio thinking, as expected, I'm gonna do a shot against the black background. However, the blocks were still set up from a shoot I did the other day and I'm thinking, you know what? That might just make an interesting image. Why? Well, depending on how I crop, it either got on almost pure white image. But the dress or the shape of Sophie and her dress is the only dark thing in the image. Or if I crop it even wider, I might even include the lighting in the shop because it actually looks quite cool. So don't ignore the opportunity to try something unexpected, something really different, something that you will intending to do because it might just be the most creative thing you do all day. So the outfit lends itself to a shot like this simply because it's boiled right down to its simplest form, have got white. I've got skin tone and I've got black. And so the shape of the outfit, that shape of sofa in that dress, which is really figure hugging, So it's really curvy and really beautiful just seems to work the way I've asked to see it. The way she stretching out across the blocks is just beautiful. Sometimes it just works to make the shot work. What I thought in my head is I want a really clean, really clean image, and what I'm gonna do is like the back wall, so that it's almost completely pure way to do that. I've got to strict boxes just pointed towards the rear notice that they're not striking Sophie. If I bring the box any further forwards, notice how it strikes Sophie. I don't want that kind of like, I want the sofa, the light to be striking the wall. And yes, some light will bounce back and create this beautiful wash of light around Sophie. But I'm not lighting her directly from the to strip boxes. I've asked Sophie just oppose this way just because the boxes were there that way when she came in and it just seems to work on. One side, positioned her, so I've got those really nice curves. All a vendor is used another soft box, another large soft box, and this is just lighting, really. Sophie's face her feet had kind of drifting down in the shadows a little bit. But I've got a lot of, like pinging around the studio. I've also got a white, semi reflective floor and any light coming off that book back wall is gonna wash through. And if I put the camera down really, really, really low or Well, in fact, pretty much on the floor, I'm gonna get reflections from the blocks reflected down into the surface, and that should create a really clean but quite interesting in it, so that's precisely what we do. 7. Outfit 4: The Black Strappy Top: I've switched to a black top denim on black or denim and white are completely and utterly timers. You can use them anywhere. And in fact, I brought Sophia in white. But then I saw this patch of light on the white wasn't gonna work. So watch. So if you step back on your mark, look out bright. That is forwards again. And the reason I've switched to black is I knew that the white would just bleach out. Must have all sorts of trouble with it. However, it would have worked fine if either knots found this patch of sunlight. This was coming through a gap in the leaves above us. And that's the thing about portrait photography and in particular, styling images and finding the best locations. Sometimes you just have to have the eyes open and find stuff, and this is a much better shot for switching to the blacktop. I've switched to the strap it up, not the T shirt, because I wanted Sophie skin to show rather than just the cut of the T shirt in the pocket . This is slightly sexier, in my opinion, Sophie looks great in anything, but you get my drift on with the light pocket we've got here on the shadow around her and all of the colors. Just a wonderful shot, and that's what I got to say about that. 8. Your Turn | What's Next: So there you have it. We've distilled down a suitcase full of clothing, a handful of really, really beautiful images, each image based around the look, the styling, the color and the tones and form of the outfit and the way Sophie carried them off. You, too, could do this. Grab someone, grab some clothes and just go on experiment. Play with light T shirts, dark T shirts, dresses, whatever is but think. Think about the image you're creating sketchy in your head and piece it together, and we'd love to see those images. Please upload them into the my projects. Top down, below on If you'd love to, Why not? Hop across the mastering portrait photography dot com where there's a whole heap of videos that might just be of interest to you. If you're passionate about your portrait photography until next time, take care more of the shoulder top. Yes, little top vest. Top thing you talk. What's the name for that T shirt? I don't like you, Tool