What to wear for your family photos or family portrait studio session

by | Children and family portrait photography, Helpful info for clients, How-to photography tips

One of the questions our clients ask us most is, “What should we wear for our family photo session?”

Choosing what to wear for your professional family photos should be a consideration of:

  1. Your family’s lifestyle and fashion preferences.
  2. Colors and clothing styles that are consistent with the style of family photographs you desire.

Here then are our 10 top tips to ensure that your outfit choices contribute towards beautiful family photographs:

Tip #1: Start with your family centerpiece (or “center person”): Often your photographer will identify a family member who will become a key focal point for your family photos…a centerpiece (or “center person”) around whom your photographer will create balanced and beautiful family portraits. That’s not to say that your “center person” will always be in the middle of every photo…rather, that your photographer will cast the “center person” to play a leading role the photographic story of your family. In most conventional family groups, this will be Mom. For others it may be a grandparent or other senior family member. With that in mind, consider who might fulfill that role for your family and first select an outfit (or outfits) that make that person look and feel their very best…then use that outfit as the starting point for selecting complimentary outfits for the rest of the family.

Still not sure who that person might be in your family? If you’re reading this article, then the chances are that it’s you.

Tip #2: Start planning a week before the shoot: It’s usually not a good idea to leave it until the day of (or the day before) your shoot to start thinking about what everyone will wear (the larger your family, the more important this tip becomes). Most clients require a little time to consider the colors they’d most like to be photographed in, and the clothes they have (or might want to purchase?) in their desired color(s). Then you need to compile complimentary outfits for everyone else, or at least help them choose their outfits. It is important that you give yourself enough time to select outfits that everyone will enjoy wearing, because if anyone in the family (especially younger children or self-conscious teens) feels uncomfortable or unhappy in their outfit, it will likely show in your photos.

Tip #3: “Coordinated” or “matching”?: This is a matter of personal taste. Some prefer for all family members to wear near-identical outfits in their family photos, so that all family members draw equal attention within the image. Keep in mind though, unless matching outfits are subtle and carefully selected, the fact that everyone is wearing the same thing can be a distraction to the viewer of the image (after all, how often does every member of a family wear the same outfit out in public?). That said, simple matching outfits that replicate everyday wear, like blue jeans and white shirts, or dark tops with chinos, can certainly make for beautiful family pictures.

Another option is for all family members to individual outfit choices that are coordinated, rather than identical. The key to doing this successfully is to ensure that the colors in everyone’s outfits compliment each other, and that everyone’s outfit is similar in terms of casualness or formality. See Tip #5 for more information on creating outfits with complimentary colors.

Tip #4: Dress for the weather: Dress comfortably for the weather conditions. If you’re cold and uncomfortable it will show through in the photos, no matter how amazing your new outfit is. Conversely, if it’s hot and/or humid, heavy blazers, suit jackets and cooler season outfits will just cause you to look hot and bothered. Consider how your kids react to the weather too…it’s often harder for little ones to put on a brave face if they’re cold or hot, and it might bring your photo shoot to a premature end.

Tip #5: Color Choices

  • As a general rule for family photos, lighter colors make a body look larger; darker colors make a body look smaller.
  • Depending on lighting conditions, white clothing can make fair-skinned people look a little washed out. White is sometimes better suited to tanned, olive- and darker-skinned people.
  • Generally, muted or subdued colors are best. This will ensure that your family members, not their clothes, are the stars of the photograph.
  • To avoid everyone looking too matchy-matchy, perhaps choose two or three complimentary colors to form the basis of everyone’s outfits. Not sure how to identify complimentary colors? Visit www.design-seeds.com for inspiration. Use the Design Seeds palette search to choose any color and you’ll find a host of complimentary color samples to help build out your family’s outfits.
  • Alternatively, you could select a “theme color”, and choose key pieces for everyone in various shades of your theme color. The theme color might be inspired by the season (e.g. orange or browns during Fall) an event (e.g. reds or greens for Christmas) or just your personal preference.
  • Once you have the complimentary key pieces worked out, you can then safely add some neutral tones (e.g. whites, blacks, greys, tans or browns) as necessary.
  • Bonus Tip: Still not sure what colors to wear. Think about where your photos will be displayed in your home and choose clothing colors that will compliment the dominant color or accent colors in that room.

 

 

Tip #6: What’s your style?: If you’re laid-back, easy going family and you spend much of your time outdoors, consider outfits that reflect those qualities, to avoid everyone looking uncomfortable in unfamiliar, stuffy outfits. However, if your family life is more formal or conservative, you might choose to dress more formally to reflect your family’s unique sense of style. Avoid mixing casual and formal outfits in the same family photos. Instead, talk with your photographer about allowing for an outfit change during your shoot if you want to include both styles. [Note: Casual doesn’t need to mean scruffy, and formal doesn’t need to mean brand new. Clothes should be in good condition, fit well, and be clean and pressed.]

Tip #7: Layers add depth: Consider dressing in layers of complimentary colors and neutral tones (e.g. whites, blacks, greys, tans or browns) to add dimension and interest to your images without creating unnecessary distractions. This will also allow you to add some variety to your family photos without stopping the session for a full outfit change…you can simply remove or add a layer (e.g. a vest or sweater) for a slightly different look from one shot to the next.

Tip #8: Patterns maybe, but avoid text and images: Text and images on clothing can be distracting and will likely date your photos much faster. Patterns on the other hand can often be successfully incorporated into your outfit provided the pattern is not overly bold or striking, and the pattern colors compliment your overall outfit palette. Consider balancing one individual’s choice of patterned clothing by having at least one other person wear a different but also complimentary pattern, so the clothing of no one individual stands out too much from the group.

Tip #9: A quick note on shoes: Chances are that your shoes will appear in many of your photos. Make sure that they compliment your outfit, that they are appropriate for the location of your shoot (high heels and the beach are rarely a good match), and that they are in good condition and/or shined (if appropriate).

Tip #10: Rules can be broken: Do you have your heart set on outfit choices that defy some (or all?) of these tips? If that’s the case, talk with your photographer well before your photography session about whether your outfit choices will help you achieve the type and style of images you desire.

There are few gifts that you can give yourself and your family that will be cherished as much and for as long as professional family photographs and family portraits. A little thought and consideration about your outfit choices will contribute greatly to your professional photographer’s ability to create the beautiful family photos that you desire.

Related: 7 tips to get your kids ready for your professional family photos

Interested in booking Truly Madly Deeply for family, portrait, maternity or newborn photographs? Give us a call at the studio on (912) 642-8000, or complete the form on the Contact page to send us a message.

Do you have questions about family photography? What is most important to you when planning for your family’s photo session? Go ahead and leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to answer you.