A few months ago, I was so excited to have my dear friend Beth Wendland in town for a visit and to take my own family photos. Just like all of you, I am not immune to a bit of nerves at the idea of being on the other side of the camera, and selecting outfits is the major concern for most clients. So much was running through my head, and I’m sure many of you have shared the same questions: How to hide the baby weight I’m still carrying? What will look best in the photos? How do I select outfits without breaking the bank on a new wardrobe for all of us? As a client, I faced these questions, and as a photographer, I know how it is to be on the other side of the camera, too.
Today I’m sharing my top 5 tips for picking outfits for your family photo session, and I’m sharing one tiny sneak peek from my own family photos… but you’ll have to visit Beth’s blog post today to see more!
My Top 5 Tips:
1. Choose your photographer carefully based on their style, and make sure your color palette and outfit selections complement that style.
This sounds straightforward, but really, choose carefully. I chose Beth not only because she is a fantastic photographer and friend, but also because her style–rich, vibrant color–reflects my own preferences as well as my family and home decor. We are a casual, active family, and I think all of us have a bit of sass. Also, our home decor is fairly neutral, but with pops of color here and there. I wanted photos that reflected our personality and would fit in well in our home, and that’s why I chose Beth. Of course, it only made sense then to choose colors that played to her strengths, too. I love her use of vibrant color in her photography, so it would have been silly to choose monochromatic greys and whites! Let your photographer excel at what they do best!
2. Dress the toughest person first, then design the rest of the family around them.
In most families, there is one person who is a bit tougher than the rest to dress, either because of body image issues (ahem, that would be me), stubborn kids (maybe your teenager is balking at dressing up), or perhaps a husband whose wardrobe is smaller than your own. Often times, the tough customer is actually mom, the person who is signing up for the photo shoot! But whatever the case may be, start by selecting the “hard outfit” first. A lot of people reverse this, and instead focus on the kids (“Little Susie has a beautiful dress to wear, and I can figure out what I want later”) and then end up frustrated as the session date approaches. Instead, realize that your kids will probably look cute in whatever you choose–and often our little ones have more choices than us anyways! Find something that satisfies your family’s toughest customer, and the rest of your decisions can follow.
For my session, I dressed myself first. I chose something that suited me and that I would feel comfortable in, but that also covered up my “trouble spots” that I feel less confident in since having the baby. Also, since I knew that I might be playing with the kids and holding the baby, I opted against the dress I first considered in favor of something that I could move more freely in. I’ll never forget a session I did where the mom had told me beforehand in our pre-session consult that she wanted photos showing her active family, but then she arrived in a fitted white dress… we made it work, but it definitely altered my plans for the session!
3. Choose two colors as a guide for the outfits, and then mix and match prints and solids for an effortless yet coordinated look.
Often people reflexively want to select one color, or one print and have every member of the family wear the same thing. (“Denim shirts for everyone!”) However, this results in a very forced, matchy-matchy look in photos. Instead, choose two complementing colors, and mix and match a few classic prints and solids. For my own shoot, I chose coral and blue. I wanted something fresh that would work with the fall colors outside, and by mixing solids with simple prints, I ensured that things wouldn’t be too busy or clash. Avoid prints that are very small or with too much going on–you don’t want your outfit to look like a “magic eye” poster.
4. Dress for the season and the weather.
This is another tip that sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised how many children I photograph with chattering teeth because their holiday dresses are sleeveless and we are shooting in early December! Nobody photographs well when they are uncomfortable due to the temperature, and it just looks plain silly in photos when the weather obviously conflicts with the wardrobe choices.
5. Choose clothes that reflect the best version of the real YOU and your real family, not an idealized magazine ad.
I cannot emphasize this point enough! At the core of my own photographic philosophy is the belief that our sessions should reflect reality–not a varnished version of what we *think* other people want. Life would be boring indeed if every family showed up to photo sessions looking like the same J. Crew ad! When choosing to invest in family photos, invest in clothing and a photographer who will help showcase the real beauty of you and your family. You should look like the best version of you: confident and radiant and maybe a bit more polished than your day-t0-day look, but still recognizable as you. You and your family will all look best when you are comfortable and happy in your own skin, and your clothing should be a reflection of you.
My own family photos feature some images of Seth cuddled close to me in his ring sling. It may not be what every family would choose, but it reflects me and our family. Everyone who knows me knows I love babywearing, and it’s a major part of my motherhood and my kids’ babyhood that I wanted chronicled. Make sure your own family photos reflect what is important to you.
So how did all of this play out in my own photo session?
Well, to see a complete sneak peek from my own family’s photo session with Beth, you’ll have to head over to her blog today to check it out!
Please, tell us what you think! We love to hear your comments!