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| p.1 #10 · Which do you prefer solid black or pure white BG. |
For me clothing drives both the background choice and lighting strategy because clothing is the biggest potential distraction from the face. I'm not selling clothes in the photo I take so my goal is make the front of the face contrast the most. Put a white shirt on a dark background and it overpowers the face, but put it on white and the face contrasts the most.
Background tone dictates lighting strategy. Short lighting is very effective on dark backgrounds because it make the far profiled side contrast most strongly pulling attention across the face and then stopping there. But put that same short lit face on white and the bright profiled side disappears into the background perceptually. On white find low ratio full face butterfly or oblique / broad lighting that keep the front of the face darker and saturated more effective.
For portraits I favor dark clothing on a medium dark background because it makes the face contrast strongly and attracts the eye of the viewer like a magnet when full face / butterfly or oblique / short lighting are used. Keeping the background lighter than the tone of the hair is necessary for separation unless a hair light is used. With white backgrounds I find myself always fighting the glare of the background to see the face. The more background the bigger the problem. I usually only them when the subject is wearing white/ light clothing or I don't have time to change it.
With black backgrounds rim lighting is needed for separation. The clothing might be as black as the background compared together, but if you render them that way in the photo the clothing will disappears into the background. If I was shooting on black I'd ideally want the subject wearing clothing gray clothing darker than the skin but lighter than the background. If the subject was wearing black clothing I'd want to shoot them on a dark gray background, or black illuminated with gridded background light behind head and shoulders for separation.
On white backgrounds it's mostly the color contrast of the face, not the tonal contrast that catches the eye and that works best when the clothing is either similar to the skin tone (as in your shot) for sleeveless outfits (so clothing doesn't contrast with all that skin to much), white, or cool pastels. Whatever will help the warm color face contrast from everything else ó if your goal is to keep attention on the face as long as possible.
What contrasts the most will attract the viewer first and they will keep coming back to it. If something contrasts as much as the face it will sooner or later pull the viewer off the face to check it out. For example, in your black background shot if the guy was wearing black pants I wouldn't notice them one way or the other. The light ones are a distraction that pulls attention to his crotch. All things considered that shot would be better cropped at the waist vs at the crotch to remove the distraction of the pants, unless of course you want attention there. FWIW the girl is also cropped awkwardly at the bottom (arms chopped off ) and the white pattern on the dress is a distraction.