Fortunately for me, I get to spend A LOT of time with families, which means I’ve seen it all! I’ve seen what works and I’ve seen what doesn’t, and I get asked pretty frequently ‘how should our family dress for our family photo-session?’ I’ve compiled all the do’s and don’ts, and here they are!
Wear Something Comfortable
-You (parents) can probably get away with wearing something uncomfortable, but kids have a much harder time pretending to be comfortable, and the last thing we want is for your little girl to be begging to take off her (adorable but) uncomfortable shoes, or your little boy to be tugging at his shirt the entire time. If you or anyone else is uncomfortable, it will definitely show in the photos! It’s quite hard to get grouchy and miserable kids to smile or to stop fiddling–and boy, oh boy, have I tried! The more freely you and/or your kids can move, the happier everyone will be.
-If you’re planning on wearing heels or cute but uncomfortable shoes, bring a pair of flip-flops or flats to be able to switch in and out of quickly–it makes things soo much easier and your feet will thank you! Especially if the location is outdoorsy and/or requires lots of walking!
-Dress in a slightly fancier version of what you normally wear. By picking outfits that you would normally wear, you will reflect who you are and you’ll be more comfortable and focused on having fun, rather than trying to pose and project an image of a person and family that you’re not.
-Make sure everyone likes what they’re wearing and feels confident in how they look (beyond just feeling comfortable). Confidence and happiness really do show in the photos, and not being happy with the clothing selection will usually result in lots of frowns and cringing–not really our goal for good family photos!
-If your kids are in a phase (humpty dumpty, spiderman, etc.) and will not take off that superhero shirt–embrace it! They’ll (hopefully) grow out of it, but it will be a nice reminder in the future to look back on.
Avoid Intricate Patterns and Stick to Solid Colors
-The main focus of the images should be your family, not the patterns, stripes or logo on your clothes. Our eyes tend to go to flashy things first, so wear something that’s not too distracting and doesn’t take away from the meaningfulness of the photos.
-Yes, those ripped jeans and animal prints are super cute now, but will they be in 10 years when you look back at the photos? Wear something you don’t think will be embarrassing in a few years from now!
-My suggestion is to go for a classy and timeless look (as long as it fits your personalities!).
-You definitely do not have to match!
-If you choose to match, I recommend not totally matching, but instead going with colors in the same color palate–so dark earthy tones, purples, blues, etc.
-Please don’t dress the whole family in the white top and jeans/khakis look. It’s soo 90’s! Also, keep reading to find out why not to wear white!
Colors to Avoid
-Red and orange!!! Aside from reflecting back on to your skin, thereby giving your skin a red or orange tint, cameras have a hard time accurately picking up, and, therefore, displaying these colors.
-White is reflective; the clothing articles may become overexposed in the images, which means details will be lost. Undergarments (such as undershirts) and accessories are totally fine, but I recommend staying away from solid whites. Also, our eyes naturally go to white first–totally not the point of family photos! Similar but better options are cream, ivory or off-white.
-Bright colors are also reflective, and are quite hard to capture accurately on camera. Also, neon yellow may totally be a trend now, but will it be in 20 years from now? (Well……..knowing fashion and how it comes back every few decades, probably…but you get my point!). Bright colors are also pretty distracting for the eyes–let’s keep the focus on you and your family!
-Also, keep in mind the surroundings of the location you choose. If we’re going to do the session at an orange orchard, avoid wearing colors that will make you blend in (like green). If we’re going to do the session at a rustic looking forest, avoid wearing pale clothing. I generally find that darker colors tend to be more flattering and you’ll be more likely to stand-out from the background, but again, that depends on which location you choose.
Other Things to Consider
-Make sure to accentuate (or hide) the best (or worst) features of each person. I.e., if you have beautiful eyes, accentuate them by intentionally wearing contact lenses, if someone in the family doesn’t like their arms, make sure they wear long sleeves, etc.
-Feel free to accessorize (jewelry, scarves, hats, flowers in hair, vests, etc.), but make sure not to over-do it! The focus should be you, you, you! Also, remember that some accessorize go out of style, so choose wisely…The good thing about accessories is that you can take them off or modify them to create a different look during the session, without having to do a full wardrobe change.
-Shoes DO matter! Please don’t wear sneakers…unless they’re really cool Converse that work with the outfit. Shoes can totally make or break an outfit, so definitely give them some thought.
-Take into consideration how you plan on using the photos, and dress accordingly. If you plan on using the photos for holiday cards, wintery, seasonal clothing might be best. If you plan on hanging a large canvas over your fireplace in your home, take the color scheme of that room into consideration when decided on the color palette of your attire.
-If you have younger kids, make sure to take their sleep schedule into account–a grumpy, tired child is no fun! Also, bringing their favorite toy along may be very helpful (although they may not put it down…so choose wisely!)
~~**Remember, the purpose of the session is to HAVE FUN and capture a piece of your history! Come with a positive attitude and let’s make some magic happen!