Everyone stresses out SO much about what to wear… and I want to try and take some of that stress out of this! This is supposed to be fun, right?!
- Start With Choosing Colors:
There are these great little things called “color palettes.” Usually they are used for home decorating and design… but they’re also perfect for coordinating colors for a family portrait. I suggest that you choose 3-5 neutral colors. Neutrals do not have to be variants of gray, brown and black. They can be mustard, forrest green, rust, mauve, navy etc. If you want brighter colors, I would suggest choosing just one. I suggest avoiding bright oranges and magenta/pinks, (usually, not always!) as they can make skin look green in comparison in photos.
Choosing colors is where the color palettes come in. It really makes coordinating groups a lot easier and does all the work for you!
Pinterest.com is a great place to start looking.
- What is Your Goal for the Photos?
It’s important to remember to think of what you want to DO with these photos.
Do you want these for holiday cards? Then think of the other complimentary colors you want on your card. Red is great for holiday cards but maybe not your wall.
Do you want these for prints on your wall? Then the colors you choose need to look good with your home decor. I always suggest using a palette of neutrals because they will look good no matter how much the other colors in your home may shift.
- Take Notes from your Surroundings
Draw colors from your location and incorporate them into your wardrobe. If the location is the beach, choose a light beige, cream and brown as your base neutrals and blues or teals as your color.
You can also choose colors that compliment your location. Look at the color wheel! If your backdrop has a lot of cyan, find a way to incorporate some magenta details to contrast your backdrop.
- Solid White is Hard to Work with…
Its extremely challenging to get everyone in the same shade of white, so unless you only have one person in white. avoid it. Choose cream or ivory instead, it’s much more forgiving.
- Make Sure your Clothes have Variety
This recommendation is especially relevant if the family consists of many people. You ideally want to make sure that every person looks personified in the type of clothes he/she wears. For example, if there are 3 girls in a shot, one of them can wear a white beach dress, the second – a jumpsuit, and the last one – a skirt and a blouse.
- Patterns & Prints
Be careful with patterns but don’t be afraid of them! Try and think more texture and less pattern. I’m especially not a fan of thin stripes, they tend to do odd things to your eyes on screen and in print… Remember that more often than not, less is more.
I do really love large floral pattens on dresses, just make sure all the colors are all in your color palette. It often works to have ONE person in a print and base the rest of the clothing colors others wear off that print to tie it all together.
Some Basic “Rules“
– Start with mom’s outfit and build around that. (Baby/kids will look cute in almost anything,) so choose this outfit FIRST so that you feel confident and look great! (Assuming you’re the mom reading this… but maybe you’re dad!)
– Shoes matter! Don’t have someone in dress shoes while some else has sandals on.
– Accessories matter! Add scarves, hats, (gloves?) to add the coordinating color to an otherwise neutral outfit.
– Classic shoes or barefoot is best! Remember to choose footwear that works with the location we are working in. Don’t wear heels for a hike!
– Avoid being overly matchy-matchy, ideally everyone should have some variations in their colors.
– I usually like to have kids in the brightest colors to pop more within the group since they’re the smallest, but this isn’t a must.
– No text/logos on clothing, please!
– Make sure you don’t put everyone in jeans. Mix it up, texture and color. Maybe girls in skirts and boys in chinos while dad wears jeans etc.
– When choosing whites, make sure they are the same tone of white! Not stark white and off-white, this will usually look bad when put all together…
– Try to avoid hair cuts within 2 weeks before the shoot! Just in case you don’t love your cut.
– If you have very little kids, ALWAYS bring an backup outfit in case the first one gets soiled!
– Long skirts/dresses look AMAZING in photos!
– Subtle patterns are best if you want to use patterned clothing, do not put everyone in patterns!
– Avoid trendy styles.
– Say “yes” to layers!