Creating the perfect shoot

What do we wear?

This is one of the most common questions i get asked.

Deciding what to wear in Family Pictures can be a daunting task. What colors to wear? How can we coordinate, but not be matchy-matchy? I’ve got some great tips to think about, and at the bottom some ideas to help you on your way to get fabulous family pictures.

Clothes make the portrait, what the subjects are wearing in a portrait is just as important as all the other details such as: lighting, location, and posing.

To help you with this subject we have compiled a list of what to wear tips, of course, every person is an individual and if you think this is not for you then don’t worry, these tips are used daily by experienced photographers around the world, based on experience as to what looks good in-camera. My goal is to help you to be the main subject in the photo and flatter you, making you look your best.

Some suggestions for what to Wear:

For newborn and baby sessions I would recommend a long sleeve shirt for Dad in a neutral color. Beige, khaki, light blue, olive green, burgundy, navy, charcoal, taupe, cream and brown are all great colors. Think “muted” tones. If mum can also please stick to light/neutral make-up and groom your hair in a way you want it to be remembered in years to come. Siblings should be dressed in neutral tones like dad. Jeans, light brown or khaki trousers work well for boys and the “sundress” style looks with NO pattern look best on girls. Again, keep colors neutral and “muted” so that faces stand out more than the clothes they are wearing. Bright colors detract from your children’s beautiful expressions.

These are so tips for a successful clothing scheme:

Coordinating colors not matching. Long gone are the days of everyone wearing a white shirt and matching. Instead, pick a couple of colors and choose clothes that will fit in this color scheme.

Start with one piece and build it up.  If you have a color palette in mind, or even if you don’t…shop around to find one piece that you love. It can be a little girls neutral dress or a boy’s plain shirt, but if you find one central piece, it helps to plan and build everything around that. Since us moms like our kids to be the focal point, I’d suggest this focus piece to be on one of the children (not an adult). That doesn’t mean that they will stand out the most, after accessorizing it will all flow together.

Plan in Advance. Once you book your session, start thinking of the clothes right away. You may think certain clothes will fit your kids or that one dress is clean. If you wait until the day of or the day before you may run into an issue of clothes not fitting, not coordinating or being dirty, we all have been there! The more time you allow yourself to decide what you would like everyone to wear, the calmer you will feel.

Look at your home décor advice on colors to wear, I ask where they plan to hang the portraits in their home, and what colors are in that room. For some people, this doesn’t make a difference. But for others, if they plan to hang the prints in their family room that is painted red and black, and you plan to wear orange and brown, it won’t work very well.

Do you like bright colors? Neutrals? Since you will be hanging these photos in your house you want to make sure the colors of your clothes go with the color scheme of your home.

Wear solid colored clothing: so that we see all of your faces and no one person stands out. If you wear stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group.

Choose muted tones: that are a bit subdued so that you are the subject not your clothes and you don’t stand out from the group. Bright colors project (especially reds, oranges, and yellows), which also makes you look larger.

Avoid all white or all black clothing: If you are wearing an all-white shirt then it is very easy to blow out parts of your shirt causing it to lose its detail. The same can be said with all black, it’s easy to have clipping on black clothing and the detail is lost. • Avoid Patterns: A little bit of texture or patterning can be a good thing in one place, but if there are multiple patterns in a photo, it can be distracting.

Pick 3 colors

It’s a good idea to pick 3 colors to work with as your main colors, then consider greys, whites, blacks, or browns as freebies. Not necessarily all of them together, but one or two that work with the 3 colors you chose.

Say no to characters: Your little one may love their Toy Story or Frozen shirt but you may want to skip it for the family photo session. Just like patterns, characters on shirts can be pretty distracting.

Comfort Matters: – kids especially – styled in hats, boots, tutus, and jackets they look adorable. But if those kids aren’t comfortable, you are in for one miserable photo shoot. Make sure to keep everyone’s comfort level in mind.

Think classic: These photos will be hanging on your walls and treasured for years to come. By choosing simple, classic clothes you will help give your images a timeless feel.

Once you have gathered items in the colors you have picked, I try to find a spot in my home that I can keep it all out. I like to lay the pieces on the floor, and look at it from afar, take a picture of them, so I can see it from a different perspective.

Hair and Make Up: Stick to light/neutral make-up and groom your hair in a way you want it to be remembered in years to come. If getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session – again this seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised! Fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need it to grow out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session.

Split up the pairs

If you have natural pairs in the family: mom and dad, siblings, and baby, try to split up the colors, as they will often be standing near each other. When I have babies, I know I will want to be holding them (helps me look thinner) so I see my baby as my “pair” and aim to not dress us alike. My husband is my obvious other pair, and as the two tallest, I have to make sure he and I are also not “matchy-matchy.” This part can get complicated, so do your best, then let it go! 

Please check some examples on the page below! BUT, this is your session and you may want to wear certain clothes for a variety of reasons and that’s fine. What should I wear is the most common question so I put these tips together to help but by no means is it compulsory.  I recommend you wear colors and clothes that YOU like as these are your photos. There are lots of helpful tips in Pinterest if you feel these colors are not your preference. At the end of this guide, I have included two photos of a family I recently took, the coordinated, it gives a softer feel to the image.