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What To Wear For The Cameras

And More Importantly, What NOT To Wear


Before you go on camera, do a practice run with a friend.

The camera sees things differently than human eyes. It flattens a three-dimensional word into two dimensions and transforms colors and contrasts. What looks good in real life may look terrible on camera -- and vice versa.

Jannes Glas

What looks good in real life is much different than what looks good on camera, whether it's photos or film.

Photos and video are important because we're visual creatures. Newspaper stories with a photo are much more likely to get read, and television stories without good eye candy tend to get buried or turned into short two-sentences briefs.

It's also important to work with TV news, as many people rely on a single main source for their news, whether it's the newspaper, radio, the internet or television. If you're not on the TV news, you don't exist to a large chunk of the population.

1) What to wear, and what not to wear

Wear solids. Stripes, houndstooth and other patterns will look strange and cause a moiré pattern.

Avoid pure white or black. Go with neutral colors or pastels. The camera will boost the contrast. White on television can blind the viewer. Black and navy will look as dark as midnight. Stick to more muted colors.

Make sure your clothes are comfortable. Don't pick a suit you hate to wear because you think it looks great. If you're uncomfortable, it'll show up in your face and body language.

Avoid flashy or dangly jewelry, and if you wear contacts or glasses, stick with contacts. Glasses reflect the glare of the lights.

Wear knee-length socks. If you don't, skin will show when you cross your legs.

Makeup is smart, even for men. Ask for help.

You'd think it goes without saying, but I have to say it: don't wear Levi's, shorts, T-shirts, flannel shirts with suspenders, T-shirts or buttons with political messages or anything trendy. Footage of reporters and public figures wearing leisure suits and giant sideburns in the 1970s are still floating around. It is not pretty.

Treat it like a job interview and dress like one.

2) What to bring

Take a couple different sets of clothes to any photo shoot or TV interview. Maybe the dark purple you're wearing is an exact match for the background and you look like a floating head. It's best to have options.

Bring a hankerchief. The lights are hot and you'll sweat. Bring a comb ad whatever hair products you use.

Bring a bag -- or a trusted person -- to hold your wallet, cell phone and car keys. You don't want anything in your pockets that might create a bulge, be uncomfortable when you sit down or start jingling in the middle of a shoot.

3) What to do

Act naturally. The two easiest mistakes are to smile all the time or to freeze.

Use smaller gestures; whatever you do on TV or during a photo shoot is magnified by the lens. Assume you'll be in close-up the whole time, because you usually will.

Do a practice run the day before. Dress in what you're going to wear and have somebody shoot film while asking questions. You'll notice things in the practice run that you'll want to fix and some things you'll want to do more often.

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