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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 to wear for family photos

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?

what to wear for family portraits

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.

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One of the most stressful parts of planning a wedding is connecting with vendors and knowing which one is the right choice for you. The wedding business is booming and there are plenty of options to choose from when deciding everything from the florist to the reception entertainment. So, when you begin searching for a photographer how do you know who is right for you? Most people would say, “well I looked at their website and liked their photos so I’m going with him/her.” Not a bad way to make a decision because loving your photographer’s style is important but there are lots of other questions to be answered and issues to consider before spending your hard earned money.

When planning your wedding an important fact to consider is that photographers tend to book out early, especially for Saturday Summer weddings – so it’s best to start researching your options early so you have plenty of time to get the photographer you want booked on your date. Ideally you want to start thinking about booking your photographer 10-12 months in advance. Typically couples start off their wedding planning by choosing the date first and then try to schedule all of their chosen vendors for that date but if you get a late start on planning this approach may backfire and make your planning even more stressful. Try to be flexible with your date when you begin to book vendors, in the long run that may help you land the vendors that you know you’ll really love who may otherwise be unavailable on your set wedding day. Another idea is to consider a Sunday wedding (gasp! I know totally insane idea especially in Wisconsin but hear me out..), Sundays are usually more open for vendors and prices are usually considerably lower, especially when booking a venue.

1. Style: Choose a Photography Style

Every professional wedding photographer has a distinct style to their photography. This may be easy to spot by looking through their portfolios and other times it’s much more subtle. Wedding photography has really evolved over the past 40 years. I recently started touching up my parent’s wedding photos that were shot in 1974 and I noticed a definite style of photography called Portraiture. All of my parent’s wedding photos were posed or staged. Think of a photo of the entire family standing on the alter in the church smiling at the camera. Lots of people really love and cherish these types of photos unfortunately ALL of the photos looked this way.

Many couples will choose their photographer by looking at the photographer’s portfolio which is a great way to identify their overall style. Some photographers may have a very creative or edgy style of photography that is recognized by the use of creative and unusual perspective shots, strong colors and out of the box settings for their photo shoots.

My photography style is considered photojournalism or documentary. This means I take story-telling approach to documenting your day capturing moments and your emotions.

2. Personality: Ensure a Good Fit

Your photographer is going to be spending one of the most important days of your life right by your side so it’s important that you not only love your photographer’s style but that you also mesh well with their personality. One of the ways that I try to capture emotion in my images is by snapping shots when I’m just talking with the bride and the groom. If you feel comfortable you are at ease and most “yourself”. My goal is to document your day, your true self and the essence of your relationship. It’s a good idea to interview several photographers to ensure you are choosing someone who you think you’ll enjoy hanging out with on your big day. At the very least give them a call. If you don’t get a good vibe from a photographer on the phone they may not be right for you. A wise photographer once said is that you want to work with someone who you think, “hey I could be their friend”. At all cost, try to avoid choosing your photographer based on price. The old saying that you get what you pay for is TRUE (I’ll talk more about that later because it’s uber important).

3. Packages: Ask the Crucial Questions

When considering which photographer is right for you consider what products and packages they offer. Keep in mind that not only is it important how long they will be with you on your wedding day and how many total images they will deliver – it is also so crucial to ensure they offer PRINT products. Why? Good question! For more on this check out my INVESTMENT page.

Do their packages include digital images and what are your printing rights?
Do they offer albums – how many pages are included in the album – what is the album quality? Do they have their products printed by a professional photo lab?
Do they offer engagement sessions?Does the photographer offer encore sessions? Trash the dress sessions?
Can they do video? How long are the videos and what is the quality?

4. Professionalism: Make sure they are Legit

What makes a photographer legit you ask? To ensure the highest level of professionalism and quality of product you need to ask a few simple questions when interviewing perspective photographers about 1) gear, 2) insurance and 3) contracts.

GEAR: What kind of gear does the photographer bring to a shoot? Do they have 2 camera bodies available? What would happen if they drop their camera on the day of your wedding – do they have a back up? Extra lenses, batteries and plenty of storage?

INSURANCE: Your vendor may actually require that your photographer carry general liability insurance. This insurance not only covers the photographer but also the vendor and you in the event that Grandma trips and falls while getting ready for her close-up (note this has NEVER happened to me!!).

CONTRACTS: You want to ensure that the terms and prices that you and your photographer agreed upon are actually contained in a contract signed by both parties. Before signing your contract be sure to ask who will be photographing your wedding. Some large photography companies have several shooters. The person you spoke with on the phone or met in person may not be the person who will show up on your wedding day. If you want a specific shooter make certain that is specified in your contract.

You also want to ensure that your agreed upon prices are also listed in your contract and the dates when your payments are due. A contract should be in place to ensure you are getting what you paid for and it legal protects you as well as your photographer.

5. Post Production

One of the most common questions I am asked is how long it will take to get the finished product or “when can I expect to have my digital files in hand?”. That is an excellent question because it’s a complicated answer! To fully answer I want to break down what you are actually paying for when you hire a professional photographer. On your wedding day I may spend 8-12 hours shooting. It’s not uncommon for me to take over 2500 photos over the course of the day. Many of those photos are taken in bursts – meaning I will take 10 shots within several seconds to ensure I capture just the right moment (this is especially helpful when photographing that first kiss).

Over the next several weeks I will be sorting, renaming and editing your photos which I shoot as a RAW file. RAW files are then turned into jpeg images that are smaller more compressed files but they are still very high resolution images. I sort through those 2500 to find only the best shoots and then begin hand editing each photo ensuring proper exposure, color and some minor edits. Typically I will deliver to you 200-300 fully edited images.  All files are then uploaded to my on-line gallery website where you can view all of your files and order additional prints and gallery wraps. It’s important to know if your photographer offers the option to purchase your digital images and if so how will you receive them. Are the images given to you on a DVD or a USB drive? If you have a preference make sure you relay that to the photographer.

Post-production time can differ for each photographer especially based on their workload. It’s great to choose a popular photographer who shoots a wedding every weekend but their turn around time for editing may be longer because they shoot many weddings. Just because someone shoots 50 weddings a year that doesn’t mean they produce a higher quality product – actually just the opposite is usually true. Typical turn around time to see your photos is 6-8 weeks.

If this is all sounding too daunting and making you uneasy, don’t worry. It’s gonna be OK.

Choosing a photographer may sound complicated but if you do a little research and ask the right questions you can feel confident in the decision you made. If you are feeling uneasy don’t sign a contract. Sleep on it. Talk to your friends. Call the photographer again and ask the questions that are keeping you awake at night. At the end of your wedding day you will have your memories and your photos to document those special moments so take your time and make the decision that feels right for you and your fiance.

Natalie Weber is a Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin offering photography and memory preservation services to Wisconsin’s Lakeshore communities from Mequon to Door County.

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Just like everyday you want to choose clothing for your maternity session that you feel most comfortable and beautiful wearing. Here are a few tips and ideas on how to choose the right maternity session outfit to get beautiful photos and the results you love.

1. The Maxi Dress.

Long or mid knee length maxi dresses with a chunky necklaces photograph well. A maxi dress highlights that beautiful baby bump and covers up any areas you feel are “problem” areas.

2. Wear Solids.

Solid colors photograph best however if you have a pattern you love and you want to include your significant other in the photos you want to be sure that you aren’t overly pattern happy and are wearing clashing patterns. Keep in mind that patterns can be very distracting, you what the focus of your images to be that beautiful baby belly not the pattern of your husbands favorite shirt.

3. Look at the colors in your home.

If your home color palette is composed of neutral colors – if your walls are beige and brown think about what colors would be complimentary. Colors such as a deep turquoise or burgundy pair well with neutral colors. If you have a more bold color palette with accent walls with pops of colors you may want to match some of your color choices with your accent color. When you get your large canvas print up on the wall you don’t want the colors to clash with your wall color.

4. Choose your color palette.

There are lots of factors to consider when you are planning your colors but first and foremost choose a palette you like. Keep in mind the location of the shoot and the colors of the background. Colors such as deep blues, sea foam and mint photograph well on the beach but may not look as natural in a park setting. The time of year that you are having your photographs taken may also influence the colors you choose. Other questions to ask yourself: Do you want to use the photos for any particular reason? Are you alright with wearing orange because it’s fall and then have that canvas on your wall year round?

There are lots of great ways to get color palette inspiration. You can search on Pinterest for color palette boards or just photos that contain a color scheme that is appealing to you.
Design Seeds is another excellent resource and you can actually search for color palettes based on choosing a color you want to use as your base and work other colors around. You can also search by season, style or theme such as “The Sea”, “Floral” and “Nature”. It pretty much rocks.

Here are a few ideas that I created using Design Seeds color palettes and Polyvore:

5. Don’t get too “matchy-matchy”.

If your “significant other” is going to be awesome enough to take some beautiful photos with you think about wearing complimentary colors or colors in the same color palette. Choose the color palette you love and then start raiding your closet to look for items you already have that fit in that color scheme. Another tip: If you have a favorite piece of clothing that you know you want to build your outfit around go to Design Seeds and search color palettes using that color as the base color – for example: you have a beautiful coral maxi dress you know you want to wear but you are not sure what other colors to use to accessorize. Set coral as your search color on design seeds and see what palettes come up. You may not have thought that a dark blue would go well and your husband has a dark blue shirt, you add a dark blue scarf and bam! you are coordinated and look amazing.

6. Avoid the jeans and black/white shirt look.

While a white shirt is classic you can sometimes end up seeing more than you intended in your photos. White can also wash you out and make you look pale.

7. Choose a timeless look.

You’ve invested quite a bit of money for your maternity photos that will become treasured family heirlooms (imagine your son/daughter looking at your maternity photos when they are adults – the worth of these images is invaluable.) You want to choose clothes that have a somewhat classic and timeless look. Another reason to avoid patterns – think back to your Mom’s 1970′s living room curtains!

8. Choose clothing with texture.

It’s great to choose articles of clothing with different textures to add interest to the photo. Pair cotton with jeans, throw in some tweed or have your husband wear chords. Be creative.

9. Accessories are awesome….so are layers.

Start with your base layer of clothing – your solid colored dress, a solid colored top and jeans and then add layers of texture and accessories. Add a textured short jacket or blazer, add a floral scarf, add a chunky necklace and bracelets or a headband. Don’t forget to pay attention to or feet. A cute pair of shoes can make the outfit but it may be appropriate to go barefoot depending on your location.

10. Lay it out.

There are tons of great tools out there online including thousands of Pinterest boards dedicated to ideas on what to wear for portraits. Once you’ve pulled some options out of your closet just keep it simple and lay your clothing choice out on a solid neutral colored surface (beige carpet works great).

For more great inspiration check out my Baby Bumps board on Pinterest!

Natalie Weber is a Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin offering photography and memory preservation services to Wisconsin’s Lakeshore communities from Mequon to Door County.

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When documenting your wedding story it’s important to start at the beginning. To capture those moments and emotions of anticipation that happen before it’s time to walk down the aisle. I really loved capturing those moments for Lynn and Jake at their recent wedding in Cancun, Mexico at the Excellence Playa Mujeres Resort. I joined Lynn at the resort spa salon as she was getting her hair and make-up done. It was a nice quiet time just her and I (well and of course Raquel who was her hair and make-up artist). I was pretty darn impressed at how calm Lynn was but that’s how she is nothing much throws her off of her game. We just chatted and laughed as I clicked away.

When Lynn’s hair and make-up were done (and she looked gorgeous!) I joined her in her suite where her mom, Debbie, and older sister, Carrie, were able to help her get into that amazing dress, designed by Martina Liana. I was able to capture some great moments with her family and just a few beautiful shots of the bride deep in thought while she waited for a call from her wedding planner (I also caught a few tears of happiness in those moments). Lynn decided that we all needed some mimosas while we were waiting so she called room service and was happy to answer the door in her wedding dress when Victor arrived with our cold beverages.

While Lynn was waiting for her flowers to be delivered and for the wedding planner to come and pick her up I ran (well, really walked quickly in my heels) down to the resort lobby where Jake and all of the wedding guests were having a drink and preparing to walk down to the beach. Jake was playing it pretty cool and having a good time chatting with Lynn’s dad and her brother in law. I just stepped back and tried not to make him more unnerved by the camera. There was lots of excitement in the air as everyone “hydrated” before going out into the sun.

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While you might be nervous when picking out your wedding palette, don’t be! Your imagination sets the limit for what kind of palette will inspire the look and tone of your wedding. Of course, there are some that photograph more beautifully than others. Let’s explore.

Blush Pink Palette

Neutral color palettes have been very trendy for a few years now, and it’s easy to see why. The simplicity of the colors look effortless and romantic, and they bring out the rosy cheeks in everybody. Letting yourself be inspired by a blush palette means that your wedding will look chic and elegant, while still having some ethereal and natural tones to it that will look stunning on camera.

Photo credits: cake, shoes, all other photos natalie weber photography & dress by simply bridal

Navy and Green Palette

While it may seem like a little much to have two such bold colors on the palette, combining navy, apple green and white to a palette looks fun and wickedly carefree, just like summer. The beauty of having two such great colors will be that your wedding color palette will look original and confident.

Orange and Grey Palette

If you’re looking for a beautiful palette for the fall, look no further than orange and grey. The dark color of the grey perfectly complements the daring orange that you’ve combined it with, and looks absolutely stunning. Using the dark sky as a backdrop will only enhance the colors in your photograph, and you will be more than satisfied with the look of your photos.

Mint Accent Palette

Mint is one of the hottest colors of the past several years, and it’s easy to see why: it looks gorgeous next to many colors, and it seems to complement so many of the simpler colors that you might want to have in your wedding. Make mint the accent color, alongside latte or shades of brown, greys, navy to pop out the things that you want noticed the most.

Photo credits: table setting, lace, cake, shoes, dress by Simply Bridal

Blue and Grey Palette

If you’re looking for an absolutely gorgeous winter palette, let yourself be inspired by various shades of grey and blue, ranging from deep and dark blues to the lightest colors of icicle blue that you can find. Combined with the beautiful colors from outside, your colors will look natural and instinctive in your photographs, with just the right touch of class.

No matter the palette that you decide to go with, remember to choose colors that you love and that inspire you, so that planning your wedding décor will look graceful and lovely without stressing you out. That easiness will certainly show in your photographs, which is exactly what you want.

Thank you to my guest contributor Jessica Dei from Simply Bridal for this great post!

Natalie Weber is a Wedding & Lifestyle Photographer located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin offering photography and memory preservation services to Wisconsin’s Lakeshore communities from Mequon to Door County.

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There are so many amazing people out there. Seriously. Lately when I am looking at photography products and websites I am thinking to myself, “I bet the person that had that idea, created that, designed that…is completely awesome.” I decided to put together a regular post to share the love for all of the amazing people in this great big world that are brave enough to put themselves out there and share their inspiration and creativity. Here are just a few of the items I am crushing on right now and where I found them on the web. Please pop on over to their sites and say hi. Spread the love.

*Note anything I feature here I have either already purchased, read or listened to. No one is paying me to feature their products. I genuinely just love them and I want to share them with anyone out there who would love them as well.

 

1. Podcast by PhotoBizXposed - Right now I am absolutely hooked on this podcast for several reasons really…but mainly because the host Andrew is talented photographer himself and he has a great Australian accent…all joking aside, I have gotten some tidbit about marketing, business, photography, customer service out of every interview. Definitely worth your time if you are a hobbyist or a pro photographer.

2. Oh Snap Boutique – online design resource for photographers offering card, marketing and album templates. Absolutely stunning design. I have spent more than a few $$ here and hope to show off some cards using these templates sometime soon! (She also designs project life cards that I started using in my 2014 Project Life album!)

3. Camera Bag by JoTotes – My mint camera bag is also by Jo Totes and when I saw that THIS one was on sale I had to have it. I’m a sucker for a beautiful camera bag – what can I say.

4. Camera Straps by Nicole Berlowski. Nicole is actually a nearby photographer who’s superhero power is creating the world’s most glamorous camera strap! I have one. It’s on my favorite camera. I want another one. Check them out.

5. A Beautiful Mess – A photo idea book - If you don’t know who Elise Larson and Emma Chapman are I would highly recommend that you get to know them. Two pretty awesome ladies that I have been following for maybe 8 years?! They are the beauty and brains behind a Beautiful Mess blog and the authors of this inspiring book. Whenever I am feeling less than creative I check out their blog or pick up this book and my mind is re-energized. A great investment to nurture your inner creative spirit!

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It’s every bride’s worst fear when planning a predominately outdoor wedding. Rustic outdoor weddings are totally vogue these days and Pinterest provides an abundance of inspiration for accessorizing outdoor venues but what if, after gluing all of that ribbon around mason jars and cutting burlap for table runners, it rains?

It happens. I know because on the day of the very first wedding I was hired to shoot professionally, it rained. Actually, it poured. It hailed. It thundered and I was pretty sure I was going to be struck by lightening because I was pretending to be a wedding photographer. As I was driving to the venue the sky looked pretty ominous but I was optimistic that it was going to just pass over us. The moment I stepped out of my car the rain started and seemed as though it would never end. I ran to the covered bar/reception area with my gear to find the Bride standing at the end of the bar all by herself drenched not by rain but by tears – her perfect make-up now running down her face. It was pretty apparent that the family (including the Groom) were keeping their distance.

This is the moment when I seriously began to question my decision to photograph weddings. Crap. I did not sign up for crying brides. I saw the Bride’s sister who I knew well and looked to her for advice…what should I do? Should I talk to the bride? Should I give her space? Should I reassure her? I decided NOT to go the route of using the rain-is-good-luck-on-your-wedding-day speech.

I gave it a few minutes and went over to talk to the Bride once she seemed to appear a bit more pulled together. I reassured her that while the weather may not be what she expected we will still get some beautiful photos (I hoped) and told her that I was here for her and I would start photographing the details while she and the groom decided on what to do next. There was a back-up location planned in case of rain near-by so the wedding could easily be moved and since it was a pretty casual wedding it wasn’t a big deal to push back the ceremony time.

This experience taught me several valuable lessons that are not only helpful for photographers but for Brides as well.

1. Be flexible. Good advice for the photographer and the Bride. All couples should have a rainy day back up plan if their dream is the have an outdoor venue. If possible you want to be as happy with that indoor venue as you would be with the outdoor option. If you dreamed of getting married in a botanical garden and your indoor back-up option is a pole barn on site with metal folding chairs you will be even more devastated when you have to move indoors. If you plan an outdoor wedding be realistic and be flexible. If you keep that mind set you will be less disappointed if you do have to modify your plans due to weather.

2. Plan ahead. This goes hand in hand with being flexible but apply it to planning ahead for photography in the rain. Pick up some cute umbrellas as part of your wedding day gear and have enough for your wedding party. Photos of the wedding party holding umbrellas is totally bad ass. Are they what you envisioned? Maybe not, but as a narrative photographer I want to document the day as it was and all the ways that made it different and uniquely part of your story. I picked up several white and green polka dot umbrellas for my own wedding and I never got to use them. I was blessed with a beautiful day but if it did rain I was OK with that because I planned ahead.

3. Stay positive. I know, I know it’s easy to say but much harder to do. Certainly all Bride’s deserve a good 5 minute cry if it rains on their wedding day but as a photographer you are not allowed to cry! Rainy day wedding photos can actually turn out more amazing then ceremony photos on a beautiful sunny day with a 12 o’clock outside ceremony. Why? Overcast is good. The light is softer and you avoid those harsh bright sun shadows. Typically even though it is overcast and rainy there is enough light that you can get well lit shots without compromising your ISO.

 

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