25 Jan The Colour Of Photographers
Military colouring used to be a lot of fun – If you were English you got a red coat and if you were French you got red pants. If you were German you got a red face. It was all about looking as sharp as you could while wielding something sharp. If you were shooting people you made so much smoke doing it that concealment was impossible – so you wore feathers and gold braid and shiny hats.
Then they invented smokeless gunpowder. You could hunker down behind a log and fire on people with a fair chance that they would not see from whence it came and would not kill you back. You could further improve on the odds by wearing clothing that made you blend into the log. Camouflage was born. Uniforms got dust-coloured, tree coloured, or haze-coloured. This helped against rifle fire but nothing deterred artillery from killing you.
Well, things need not be as dire now for photographers. Apart from those fools who insist on going to wars and who would still be wise to wear camouflage whilst doing it, the rest of us can exhibit a bit of flair in our dress as we practise our art. Herewith a few thoughts for styling yourself behind the camera:
1. If you are going to be a street photographer try to look as if you belong on that particular street. One camera – a small one – and exceedingly average clothing. Wear head covering if everyone else does or not if they don’t. Do not stay still for very long in any one place. Look boring.
2. If you are going to cover a wedding, look as if you belong at the wedding. If it is a New York fat cat tuxedo wedding, hire a tux. If it is an local bogan shotgunner lose the tux but wear a sports coat at least. Even if most of the other guests are wearing AC/DC tees, you have to look professional.
3. Going to a hot rod show? Jeans, go-ahead sandals, and a Moon-Equipped tee will mean you blend perfectly. Just this one time you can put on a feed cap backwards and shoot un-noticed. Avoid club colours as it raises a whole series of troubles.
4. Steampunk? Let yourself go – in a vaguely Victorian or Edwardian sense. Wear goggles. Make the effort to produce a steampunk camera and you will be forgiven any sins – make steampunk photos and you will be worshipped.
5. Professional photographer doing fashion shoots? Attach a small beard and shave your head. Even if you are a woman, this is the internationally-recognised uniform of the fashion photographer. You may wear pretty much whatever else you want to, including garments made of plywood. Do not smile. Ever. Even when they pay you.
6. Family/portrait/kiddy event photographer? Flairs. Floral body shirt open to the waist. Gold chains. Cricketers moustache. It will not make you do better but it will make you feel better.
7. Glamour studio work? Mao overalls or three-piece tailored suit in conservative twill from a good bespoke tailor. Cavalry moustache. Monacle if you can learn to wear it. Try to wear kidskin gloves for most of the time. A tightly-furled umbrella is useful.
8. Food or restaurant photography? Wear something washable. You needn’t coordinate it as your client will be a chef and will not be able to see anyone else in the world except themselves anyway.
9. Architecture? Wear something warm. There has never been an architectural photograph taken yet that did not involve standing around in the cold waiting for the light to change.
10. Landscape shooting? No one cares what you wear – you don’t have to either. No-one will see you, and if they do they will not admit to it. You could wear a Peppa Pig tutu successfully. Just choose a garment that will hold 42 different ND grad filters and a pocket flask. And wear comfortable shoes.