Photo of the Day

Eye-Catching Portraits and Photos of the Week for Jan. 29

January 29, 2024

By Hillary Grigonis

Clothing can make or break a portrait. The wrong wardrobe can fail to flatter the client’s body type, while the right wardrobe can create a cohesive, artistic image. In some cases, clothing can be a cultural icon and the focus of the image itself. These five photographs from Bethany Johs, Anna Grove, Stephanie J. Graston, Tosha Gaines, and Wen Wen Tang are stunning examples of how wardrobe influences a portrait. Find expert advice from these five photographers on clothing, from highlighting the client’s own wardrobe to creating a client closet full of options.

Bethany Johs, Artography by Bethany

© Bethany Johs

Coordinating the wardrobe with the backdrop is key to creating a cohesive portrait. Bethany Johs of Artography by Bethany credits the wardrobe stylists at The Portrait Masters Conference for this coordinated setup. While Johs credits the stylists for the wardrobe, her choice of pose highlights the model’s clothing and figure while the shape on the backdrop also perfectly intersects the model’s braid. She captured the shot while helping set up the shooting bays at the conference, using a Canon 5D Mark IV, Sigma 85mm f1.4 Art lens, and Profoto strobes in a clamshell setup.

“The wardrobe was provided by the fabulous stylists at TPM, and they didn’t disappoint!” Johs says. “The choice of colors in her clothing and makeup complemented her skin tone and hair perfectly. When choosing wardrobe for your clients, consult with them on complementary color palettes and interesting textures and layers.”

Anna Grove, Anna Grove Photography

© Anna Grove

Anna Grove of Anna Grove Photography focuses on creating empowering portrait sessions for her clients at her fine art portrait studio in Houston, Texas. This photoshoot was for a client celebrating her 50th birthday. Grove wanted to create an image that reflected the client’s determination, positive energy, and confidence. She started by using the orange and gold theme of her birthday party and working with the client to select wardrobe options from the studio closet for the portrait. Grove captured the shot with the Nikon D850, a 50mm lens, two lights and a hand-painted backdrop.

“My goal is to select the right outfit for their personality and body type or features,” she says. “This orange dress is part of my studio wardrobe. I invited her sister to be my assistant for the day and to throw the various dresses and fabrics. This familiarity helped my client relax and be her true self. When my clients have fun, I can bring that emotion out into my photos in a way you can feel. I give my clients a transformative, empowering experience where they leave their session feeling like they’ve grown two inches taller and are ready to take on the world!”

Stephanie J. Graston, Jean Graston Photography

© Stephanie Graston

Stephanie J. Graston of Jean Graston Photography tends to start her work with a mood board that envisions everything from light to mood. Wardrobe, hair, and makeup is often a big piece of that vision. For this shot of model Gabrielle Pinto, Graston worked with hair and makeup artist, Amy Castro and Judah Townsend, a friend Graston met through The Portrait System, helped with behind-the-scenes footage. Townsend also brought a few items, including a unique feather collar, which inspired the wardrobe in this unique portrait. Graston captured the shot with a Canon 5D Mark IV and Canon 50mm f1.4 lens. She lit the shot with a Flashpoint XPLOR 600 and a Paul C. Buff 86″ PLM umbrella with a cover.

“As for advice on choosing a wardrobe for any session, make sure it looks and feels ok,” Graston says. “Sometimes a garment is the perfect look but doesn’t fit for everyday wear. Maybe it doesn’t zip up. It’s ok because you can typically present a full look without a perfect fit. Clothing aside, fabric pieces are always great for draping, fitting form, and flowing. Don’t underestimate a piece of fabric for making a fashion statement. Additionally, there are times it’s not going to be the most comfortable to be in for the long term. If you know you might have to sacrifice comfort temporarily for the right shot, communicate everything with your client or model and check in with them throughout the session. They could be too hot or too cold depending on your theme/attire. Making sure they are comfortable throughout the process is key, because it will show in the final output of images.”

Tosha Gaines, Tosha Gaines Photography

© Tosha Gaines

For this shoot celebrating Dia de los Muertos, wardrobe was key in both honoring the holiday’s traditions and creating an emotional portrait. Tosha Gaines of Tosha Gaines Photography says the shoot was an emotional journey honoring memories of loved ones. “The process itself is a form of art therapy, a visual expression of grief, love, and respect,” she notes. Gaines captured the shot with a Canon EOS R6 Mark II and a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 DG OS HSM Art. The key light was a Flashpoint XPLOR 400 Pro and Wescott 7′ umbrella, with a Stella Pro Reflex S as the backlight and rolling Cheetah light stands.

“My client was unsure how to dress her session. I asked her to bring the items she wanted to incorporate in the session,” Gaines explains. “Luckily, I am blessed with a creative team that assist during the session with styling, which produced this final image. In order to facilitate a therapeutic session with styling your subjects, try to choose clothing that aligns with the desired emotions and complements the shoot’s mood and setting. Ultimately, ensure clothing enhances the overall aesthetic and reflects the individual’s personality for a captivating photo session. Prioritize comfort to help subjects express genuine emotions, creating more authentic and impactful photographs.”

© Wen Wen Tang

This portrait by one of Rangefinder’s 30 Rising Stars of Wedding Photography from 2022 Wen Wen Tang of The Shots Gallery is part of a series inspired by a Borneo traditional beauty standard, where women wear rings around their necks and legs to elongate the limbs. This tradition is no longer practiced on the younger generations. Tang was inspired to photograph the women to explore the definition of beauty and how drastically different standards can coexist at the same time. She captured the shot with a Nikon D850 and a 50mm f3.5 lens with lighting modified by a square diffuser and square white bounce.

“Ring ladies are a Bornean traditional beauty standard, where from a young age, they wear rings around their legs and necks. As these rings made of brass or metal are pretty weighty, they press into the limbs or body where they rest,” she says. “After periods of time, the pressure elongates the limb. Usually, the ones on the neck are most visible. It’s a cultural and traditional practice that shows how we perceive beauty in the modern sense and that beauty really is only a perception of one’s conditioning.”

Dig into our Photo of the Day archives for even more timeless photoseye-catching wedding photos and portraits. Submit your wedding, editorial, documentary and other interesting imagery to:

The Location Lighting Series
Creative Portrait Series
Painterly Portraits
The Business of Fashion Photography
Raw Portraits
The Successful Small Photography Studio