Ever wonder what to wear for family photos? As a photographer it is one of the primary questions I get asked, especially as client’s approach the holiday season!
After years of inquiries I finally decided to write a DO’S list for family clothing, specifically targeted towards clients who live in Phoenix-Scottsdale-Tempe Arizona because of our beautiful and available desert back drop 😉
The desert provides such a wonderful, neutral canvas. While I tend to be a fan of soft colors as the focus of an image is more on my client’s beautiful faces, color pops so well!! You can see how both April’s soft dress and Emma’s colorful outfit look lovely and unique in the above photo.
Below Jami’s pink shirt provides a beautiful contrast to the soft desert colors behind her family…it works especially well because the other tones of the family’s clothing and her accessories are earthy.
Location plays a HUGE part in what a family should wear to their session. When you’re shooting at a location with a lot of green, it’s really important to avoid wearing GREEN because you’ll get lost in your surroundings. Images tend to look muddy. I recommend finding colors that fit the season you’re shooting in, even if the weather hasn’t quite caught up yet 😉 Hear in Arizona it’s often still in the 90s in October, however choosing Fall colors like the Grimes family did before still produced the exact look they wanted.
You can see how the rich browns and oranges they wore, contrasted in different textures and patterns popped out from the green backdrop!
I tend to encourage client’s to avoid anything too “match-matchy” however I think sticking with the same color palette can look AMAZING as evidenced below in these two cute families! The tones of clues and different patterns provide congruency and contrast at the same time! They did it perfectly in my opinion.
Sometimes styling kids can feel tricky…one thing I like to do for inspiration is to check out my favorite kids clothing boards on Pinterest to see how companies are styling their clothing! Websites I look to for kid’s clothing inspiration include Gap kids, Zara, Joyfolie. I’ve shot Kayce’s family for a number of years and she always NAILS styling her kids, just look at how cute her boys are below!
Both Brooke and Lyndee did a great job at playing with textures with their girls that coordinated with their own dresses. I always recommend starting with mama’s outfit and building the family’s clothing around what mama feels best in! And again you can see how these soft colors look stunning with the desert landscape!Again…for soft, neutral colors. I’m also known to strip a baby down because I love how the focus is then on baby and mama and not bunchy clothing that gets in the way 😉 This sweet little family nailed integrating color without it being over-powering. I recommend sticking with a similar color tone–in this case, neutrals and gem tones. While none of the family members are wearing the same color, they are all wearing clothing in gem tones which completely compliments one another. You can see how the colors here work with both a green and neutral back drop! Sometimes we think that we have to dress in formal wear for a family session, however sometimes the best photos are pictures of what your kiddos look like just being kids!! Kayce did a great job below with the boy’s tattered jeans. The kids look like they’re living life which I just love! She also did a great job at integrating some different patterns (striped head band and leopard leggings) however it worked best because the rest of the palette was neutral. This. Is. Perfect. So let’s talk accessories! Overall I tend to encourage client’s to do less over more 😉 Coco Chanel always recommended taking off the last accessory you put on! Stay away from anything “too” trendy so your portraits look timeless, and, wear what YOU love and feel great in! I love how Baby Girl’s headband pops in this image but doesn’t have to compete with anything else. Small accessories can still make a big statement! This little guy’s pink bow tie adds a ton without being overly trendy. The boys accessories here are tasteful and blend well with the overall colors and style of their session. They ADD to the photo rather than competing with the kid’s sweet expressions. One word of advice here. If your kids won’t wear an accessory when you try it on them for fit, don’t expect that they’ll wear the accessory during the photo session! I’ve seen so many parents’ disappointed when their babies rip hats, head bands and/or neck ties off 😉 Your kids will only look natural in photos if it’s similar to what they are normally wearing, so save yourself the struggle!
Lastly, here’s a short list of things not covered above 😉
DO wear more make-up than you’re daily wear, especially if your photos are outdoors. The sun will wash it out and some contouring helps all us ladies out! Better yet, consider having your make-up professionally done, you’ll feel and look amazing.
DON’T wear graphic tees. The wording won’t show up or read well in photos.
DO wear fitted clothing! Baggy clothing will look significant;y more baggy and you’ll likely look bigger. A great fit, even a slightly small fit will look better than something too big!
DON’T worry about whether your kids are smiling or performing! That’s the photographer’s job. The BEST thing you can do is to hire a photographer who understands how to interact well with children and is willing to draw out their personalities and capture your family as is without forcing a pose or shot.
I am not above bribing but I honestly believe that a photo session should be FUN for little people, and that bribing isn’t necessary if the kids feel comfortable and you are having fun as a family!