Shanti's Diary

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Dressing Risky (Not Risque)

Photo of Shanti Knight by Daniel Knight’s Studio B Photography

If I weren’t intentional about what I wear, it would be all black, all the time. And it was that, for a very long time. I know I’m not alone in this. Black is (almost) universally flattering, it’s hard to mess up, it can be adapted for almost any occasion, and, most importantly for me, it doesn’t stain easily. (My job as a photographer often requires me to lay on the ground or the floor, climb up on things, and potentially bump up against dusty or grimy surfaces from time to time.) In essence, black is safe.

It’s the exact inverse of this, and several more reasons, for which I adore and respect light-colored clothing (when I’m off the clock, and on my photographic subjects). Please allow me to elaborate…

Brittany & Sophie | Chicago, Illinois

1. Light colors are risky. First things first, and going back to my own favorite reason to wear black— it’s completely possible that you’ll spill something on it. Not long ago, I sat in something (I don’t know what, and it doesn’t matter) in my white jeans and for the rest of the day I had people telling me meekly, politely— almost as if they were themselves embarrassed for me— that I had something on my tush. The funny thing about this was that, since I’ve been practicing being okay with imperfection (thanks, Brené Brown and Tonya Leigh), I was like “Okay, whatever.” It’s the same attitude I have toward wedding dresses. Your wedding day is the only day you’ll likely wear that dress. That gown’s whole life’s purpose is that day. Wear it with gusto. Wear it with abandon. The cleaners will take care of it. And, sometimes, the marks of imperfection on light-colored and white clothing can tell a story. Which leads me to…

Aimee & Immy | Lake Eola Park | Orlando, Florida

2. Light colors are interesting. From a purely scientific perspective, we know that lighter colors reflect light, and darker colors absorb light. Which means that, in photographs, a lighter color is more likely to show the subtleties of light, the slight brush of wind, etc. They can, by reflecting more light than they absorb, show more detail and create more visual poetry.

Jade & Brian | Chicago, Illinois

3. Light colors can force us to pay closer attention to details. Black and darker colors, because they absorb light, allow us to camouflage, without paying much attention to fit, etc. With lighter colors, there is far less room for carelessness. Lighter colors force us to be attentive to fit, to correct undergarments, and even to how we operate in the world.

For more inspiration, visit my Instagram page or my website. And next time you’re planning to be in front of the camera, I encourage you to consider wearing a lighter color…

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