People always ask….and here is my answer. Wear something that makes you feel good. This sounds obvious, but it’s really important and can really make or break a shoot. Everyone needs to feel happy and relaxed to generate real, authentic smiles. On-location photography can move quickly so opt for something that is easy to move in. Bring those 4 inch heels if you’d like, but wear something comfortable to get you between areas of the location. Warm footwear suitable for mud or possible rain is a must. Dress children in comfortable clothes that you won’t fret over, if they are rolling around in the grass. Clothes for any location; from beach to city to family hike. Be You! Be comfortable! Be festive! Dress WARM (especially important for the kiddos) in the winter and dress appropriately for warmer weather in spring or summer.
Coordinate your family’s style, but please avoid the family uniform. Think coordinating, not matching. It should go without saying to never dress your family alike (twins are an exception to the rule). Nobody prefers it really, even the kids. Instead opt for a coordinated look in the same tonal range. For the quick and easy way to do this, find outfits for mom and the girls in your family (who tend to have bolder choices in stores) and fill in some simple but coordinated choices for dad and the boys. I invite you to choose colors that complement the environment where your session will be located. If you want to take this one step further (if you plan on displaying this picture in your home), try and choose colors that will compliment your home decor. My home is decorated with a lot of neutrals; thus, I would never pick neon colors for our outfits. Of course I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.
I encourage you to embrace bold colors and simple patterns, but keep it balanced. The key to pulling this off is to make sure to use bold color sparingly, treat it like an accessory. Patterns should be balanced with a simple choice for other family members. Use your brightest colors as accessories. You don’t want the brightest colors or boldest patterns detracting from the most important part of the picture: YOU! It is ok to mix solids and simple patterns. I like to think that SIMPLE patterns add interest and texture to a picture. If you stick to a color scheme, everything just naturally blends together.
In regards to color, some families find this “Three Colors + POP” rule helpful: pick three colors (one being a neutral) and put together outfits with those colors only. More than three colors can seem a bit busy. Jewel tones photograph beautifully (purple, royal blue/navy, emerald green, mustard yellow, teal and reds) These are best mixed with neutrals such as GRAY (dark or light), black, white, khaki, pastels or cream. Then, add in an unexpected POP of color. Be aware that this POP will become a focal point in the picture, so I wouldn’t advise adding this color in an area that you don’t want others to look at too closely.
Don’t be afraid of accessories! They are easy to dress up or down and are fun for kids and families to interact with. Accessories and layers are key to looking like you had multiple wardrobe changes. One of the easiest ways to give your photo session a diverse look without forcing your family to perform multiple wardrobe changes in a parking lot is to bring several types of layers and accessories. Think sweaters, coats, hats, and scarves. Accessories can be pulled on and off easily which creates lots of different looks, not to mention they act as fun props.
A special tip for a mom who wants to look thin: wear the same color from head to toe
You can trick the camera by creating a long line from head to toe if you stay in the same color. Choose a mid-tone color such as a blue or brown. Always avoid wearing lighter colors on the bottom as the eye is attracted to the lightest part of a photograph, therefore accentuating your hips. If you prefer to wear a skirt, remember to keep it long or wear tights, for I will be asking you to sit, squat, kneel, etc… (pants are always the best option, but I also want you to be comfortable and YOU). All this being said, I have to add: RULES CAN BE BROKEN. However, I will say that these guidelines generally work well to produce a a cohesive, vibrant family portrait.
And here is what NOT to wear: Please avoid clothing with words or logos or anything too trendy (otherwise you’ll hate the images in a few months). Please don’t force several wardrobe changes on kids, stick to no more than 2 great looks and you’ll keep your little one happy. Please avoid a lot of white. I love the soft combination of warm creams and tans with the addition of color.
The bottom line is to have fun with your family’s photo shoot. Take a little time to prepare for the day. Have a few backup articles of clothing in case of disaster and feel free to consult with me before the session. You’ll be sure to love the images knowing that your family was comfortable and looking their best.