The very first question I get asked after I confirm a booking for a family photo session is “what should we wear?”. I understand your anxiety related to this question, you are investing in your family portrait and that can feel like a lot of pressure. I recently contacted my favorite photographer to book our family portraits and with 4 kids to outfit I’m realizing that this is no easy task. I’ve done some research for myself so I thought I’d pass it onto you along with some additional resources to help this task seem less daunting and more enjoyable.
Be the star.
When choosing your clothing first remember this – you should be the star of your portraits, not your clothing. Meaning whatever you choose don’t let the outfit take away from the people in the portrait. If the colors of the clothes are too bright or the patterns are too distracting people will only notice that and not the smiles on the faces of your family members or feel the emotions the portrait should evoke.
Coordinate your colors, don’t match.
You want to choose colors in the same color family but you don’t want to be a carbon copy of one another. There are many different ways to choose your color palette for your outfits, here are a few ideas:
1. Pick a piece of clothing that you love and know you want someone to wear for the photo shoot. It could be a blue patterned dress of your daughter’s or a coral tie of your husband’s – then begin to build your palette around that color.
2. If you have a particular color you know you want to incorporate but don’t know what other colors would coordinate well check out Design Seeds.
3. Think about your photo shoot location. What colors would coordinate well with an urban backdrop or a grassy field? At design seeds you can also look at photos to inspire you and the color palette will be drawn out of that photo.
What works well in this family portrait:
-complimentary colors without being too “matchy”
-note the teal polka dot pants on the little girl and the teal on the t-shirt of the little boy – ties the look together
-Dad is wearing plaid but it’s not too distracting and a button down shirt is a classic look
-Maxi dresses look great on Mom – always a good option especially when showing off a baby bump
Dress for the season.
Keep in mind the season and purpose of your photo. Are you taking a portrait for your annual Christmas or Holiday Card? Do you want the photos to have a holiday color palette? If so think about it that portrait would be appropriate to display all year round or will it have too much of a Christmas Vacation feel? (I’ll talk more about coordinating your colors with the colors of your home in a bit.)
At all costs avoid the denim and white shirt look. Not only is that look overdone but everyone has large family portrait from the 1990′s hiding in their home someone sporting this look. You can certainly work denim into your look in a way that isn’t overdone for example, dad may wear jeans, and baby girl may wear a jean dress.
Also, try to avoid the mini me look. Again, coordinating colors are good but mommy & me matching outfits can just look odd (think awkward family photos).
Shine your shoes.
Pay attention to what you wear on your feet the day of the photo shoot. Nothing ruins a photo like a raggy old pair of running shoes that were once white and now they are kind of a beige/brown color. Choose shoes that make a statement and reflect your personality. For men remember to match the socks with the pants – not the shoes. If you are wearing khaki pants choose khaki socks to avoid the white-gym-sock-sticking-out look.
Look to your home for inspiration.
Are you planning to order a large canvas of your family portrait to hang over your fire place or in a prominent location in your home? If so it’s wise to look at the colors of your home when planning what to wear. What is the color palette of your home? Do you prefer cool sea inspired colors of pale blues and greens or is your home decorated in a warm palette of red, beige and yellow?
Choose classic looks and stay away from clothes that are too trendy. It is never ever ok to wear a cartoon character on your shirt or anything too pop culture because over time it will go out of style and your kids will ask, “Dad who is Sheldon?” or “What does Bazinga mean”?
Classic look ideas for men:
-denim jeans or neutral colored pants such as khakis
-button down shirts – solids work well but a
-solid colored polo shirts or solid colored sweaters layered over a plaid shirt
Accessories are your friend.
Visit my Family Session Pinterest board for more inspiration on what to wear for your family portraits.