What To Wear For Your Family Photo Shoot

What To Wear For Your Family Photo Shoot
By Bree Hulme

Clients often ask me what to wear for their family photo shoot.
Above all else, I want you to wear something that represents you, as a family. There is no use buying clothes that do not suit you and your style. You do not want to look back at your photos in 2 or 10 years time, and cringe, remembering that time you all wore "those clothes” for some family photos.

That being said, there are definitely guidelines I give to my clients when it comes to clothing choices for their family portrait sessions.

1.    Choose clothes that don't overwhelm - this can be colour, pattern or style. The photos we are taking are not for a fashion spread in a magazine. We are creating family pieces of art, capturing the connection, the love, the relationships between your family. The photos are not about the clothes, they are about you, so we don't want the clothes to be the stars.

2.    You don't all have to match - choosing clothes with a colour story, similarities in tone or temperature is great. But you do not have to all be in blue jeans and white t-shirts. In fact, I strongly discourage coming in matching white tees and jeans! Some clients like to choose one colour to weave through different outfits within the family, but in subtle ways. Maybe one child is wearing a bold mustard, the other outfits compliment this bold colour, rather than clashing with it such as in the family portrait below. 

3.    Colour temperature and tones can be a good guide - Colours can be divided into different temperatures. Warm versus Cool. Warm colours such as red, yellow, and orange; evoke warmth because they remind us of things like the sun or fire. Cool colors — such as blue, green, and purple (violet); evoke a cool feeling because they remind us of things like water or grass. Tones can be bright, vibrant, subtle, pastels, darks, or lights. Choosing clothing with similar colour temperatures and tones can help create a coherent colour story. Mixing in neutrals with a couple of colours makes sure you are not all matching. Classic neutrals such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray and shades of cream and white appear to be without color, but in many applications these hues often have undertones. Be aware of these underlying tones as you match colours and clothes. You ultimately want to create a colour palette of between 2-4 colours, with some neutrals included in this palette. For example in the image above, the colour palette was something similar to this: 

4.    Dress to a similar dress code - This is one that I think is super important. Don't put Mum in a beautiful lace dress with heels, and have Dad in a pair of boardies and thongs. Make sure you all look like you are going to the same event. And keep our location in mind - high heels at the beach are not very practical or comfortable! This is an occasion to dress up a little though. Even if we are shooting at the beach, swimmers and sarongs are not necessarily the look we are going for. This can be a good chance to dress your family in an elegant, sophisticated way, ensuring you are still staying true to your style.

5.    Accessories are awesome - Changing outfits mid-session is a No-No for me. It disrupts the rhythm of the session, and it can alter a child's mood dramatically. What was a happy and cooperative 4 year old one minute, can be very upset if he/she doesn't want to put on the other outfit you brought with you or take off the one they are wearing now. But, you can easily add and remove accessories without too many problems. Hats, scarves, cardigans and jackets, headbands, jewellery and beanies are all great to use to change to look and feel of a portrait without needing much effort or causing too much disruption. Layers are the key. 

6.    Graphic t-shirts and large comic characters are best avoided - Clothing wrinkles, folds and is sometimes obscured by arms and heads in portraits. There is nothing worse than a cute quote on a t-shirt actually spelling out an obscene word because of an unfortunate fold in the top or a strange angle of the camera. So avoid graphics on t-shirts altogether.

7.    Patterns are great, but not on everyone - I love patterns, and there are so many gorgeous dresses and shirts around at the moment with just beautiful prints and patterns. Stunning romantic maxi-dresses for mum and dapper checked shirts for dad. But not everyone in the family portraits should be in a pattern.

8.    Lace & subtle textures are a YES! - I love all things lace, texture, embroidery. Anything that adds a subtle detail to your clothing without overwhelming. I also love how classic and timeless lace is.

9.    Classic & classy - if you are still not sure what your style is choose something classic, classy, something that won't date. Soft pastels colours, a lace blouse or dress, a simple linen collared shirt.

10.    Shoes can make or break an outfit - Make sure you are happy with the shoes your family members are wearing. They will be in the portraits, and they can really make or break a photo gallery. If you hate someone's shoes, you are not going to like the photos. 

11.    Rules are made to be broken - in the images above you can see how beautiful warm yellows pair with cool blues and denim colours. So mix and match, just don't overwhelm your family members with too much or we won't be able to see them for their clothes.

12.    Take a photo of your outfits together - Send it through to me if you aren't sure. Ask yourself if the clothes compliment each other? Do the tones match? Is everyone dressed for the same dress code?

13.    Pinterest is a great source of inspiration - But don't get overwhelmed. Take some inspiration and then find your own style for your portraits. What do you want to be looking at hanging on your wall in 2 or 10 years time?  

14.    Let your fingers do the shopping - browse around online for some classic and beautiful clothes that won't take away from your portraits. 

15.    Finally, a Mani & Pedi might mean you don't cringe at the photos of yourself where you are barefoot on the beach and just finish off your polished outfit, and if hair and makeup will make you feel even more polished, then ask me for recommendations for some amazing hair and make up specialists to use before your session.

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