Spring & Summer
It is the first question every family asks once they’ve booked their family portrait session. What to wear in their family photos. I can almost hear the stress in mom’s voice as she asks. And as a mom of two little girls. I get it! Dressing myself and looking pulled together can be challenging enough, never mind trying to dress the whole family!
I’ve learned a lot over the years of helping my families simplify choosing outfits and looking picture perfect. And I want to share my favorite tips for what to wear in family photos with you!
START WITH THE BIG PICTURE IN MIND
It may sound simple, but this is one that can easily be over looked. Some colors look great together and some… well, not so much. Before thinking about what to wear in your family photos or what color scheme to choose for your outfits, start by thinking about where you plan to display your portraits. And where your portraits will be taken. If the wall where you plan to hang your family portrait is brightly colored, you may want to avoid brightly colored outfits so the colors don’t compete. Instead opt for soft neutrals or muted tones. On the other hand, if your walls are neutral, pops of color in your outfits would look great!
The location you choose will also impact the colors you choose to dress your family in. Think about the overall colors of your location. If it is mid summer there may be lots of green in your portraits. Including red clothing choices may unintentionally leave your portraits feeling a little Christmassy.
COORDINATE OUTFITS INSTEAD OF MATCHING
Gone are the days of everyone wearing white t-shirts and blue jeans. Today’s family pictures are more about coordinating than matching. Cue a sigh of relief! Ahhh! Everyone doesn’t have to wear the same color. Or dress in the same style! Each person in your family can dress in a way that fits their own personality. And you can still look pulled together in your family pictures.
I’m sure you’re wondering, How do we pull that off? And still look coordinated? Keep reading below!
3 STEPS TO PERFECTLY COORDINATED OUTFITS
Start by selecting a color palette of 2-3 coordinating colors, based on what you love, where you plan to hang photos in your home, and the location where you are taking photos.
Then, Mom goes shopping! Pick something that you fall in love with and makes you feel amazing. When you feel amazing, it will show! And you will look amazing in your family portraits.
Select outfits for the rest of your family based on Mom’s outfit and you color scheme.
Use accessories to pull your look together and help each member of the family coordinate with others.
For example, in this peach and denim family outfit, the little girl’s floral dress is the “hero” piece. Mom’s shoes and belt pick up the peach color, and Dad’s shirt echoes the peach base in a more subtle tone. The little boy’s plaid shirt pops when paired with the peach tones, and ties into the blues in the floral print.
GO FOR CLASSICS
Your family pictures will be enjoyed for many years to come. Hopefully they will be passed down to your children and grand children someday. Crazy to think about it that way, right? To avoid having your family portrait look outdated when next season’s fashion and color trends change, lean toward more classic styles.
DON’T CHOP YOUR PICTURE IN HALF
You will see that I often use dresses in my inspiration boards for what to wear in your family photos. There are two reasons. Dresses tend to be flattering on women and in photos. Second, using dresses helps to add variation to the overall image and avoid a strong horizontal line in your image. Imagine if everyone in your family wore a light colored top and dark pants. If I took a picture of your family standing up, there would be a visual line at your waist separating the top half of the portrait (light colored shirts) and bottom half of the photograph (dark pants). By having different colors on tops and bottoms as well as using a variety of styles (skirts, dresses, pants and shirts) you can avoid this dreaded horizontal line and create a much more interesting family portrait.
SIZE DOWN KIDS CLOTHES
It’s so much fun buying cute new kids clothes for photos! However, if you buy the next size up with the intention of letting them grow into it, you’ll run the risk of having your kids look disheveled in your portraits. For photos, its a much better idea to choose clothes fit them snugly- no floppy arm holes on dresses for little girls or too-big shirts for little guys.
Dressing in layers will add dimension and depth to your portrait. This is one of the biggest differences between sessions that look good and sessions that have that wow factor. This is the perfect opportunity to also add a layer of texture for even greater visual interest. For mom, this may be a light an airy lace shrug in the spring. Or a tailored cardigan or jacket over a dress in the fall.
The trick to pulling off layers is to keep them tailored so they look sophisticated rather than bulky. For little girls, textured tights under a layered skirt, paired with a top and a little denim jacket always looks polished and pulled together.
IT’S ALL IN THE DETAILS
So far we have focussed only on the clothes. But it is the little details that can truly make or break a picture. Take a moment to pick out shoes to match each person’s outfit so an old pair of sneakers or flip flops don’t get thrown on last minute on your way out the door. You can also use your choice of shoes to add a pop of color to your outfit or to help pull two outfits together.
THINK ABOUT FAMILY GROUPINGS
Up until now, we have been looking at your family’s wardrobe as a whole. But if you plan to have a picture taken of just your children together, or a mommy daughter picture, be sure to consider how those outfits look together as well. If your daughter has a flowered dress on and you son is also wearing a heavy pattern, it may be a bit too much when they are the only two in the picture. If this is the case, you could select a different outfit for one of them. Or you could choose to add a solid sweater, jacket or cardigan to one of the outfits when they are paired together for a photo.
SNAP A CELL PHONE PIC OF IT ALL TOGETHER
Lastly, when you think you have your outfits selected and ready to go, lay them all out together and take a quick cell phone picture of it. When you look at the picture, do you love it? Do you see anything that needs to change? It’s funny how a picture can often show us little issues.
Once you have your outfits set, try to relax, have fun, and enjoy some sweet family time during your portrait session. I can't wait to see you!