The most common question I get asked as a family photographer is “what shall we wear?”. It’s a great question and really important, as clothing can have a strong impact on how your photos will look. There is no one size fits all guide, as it depends on personal preferences, but the following guidelines can help you put together a cohesive style that will look great.
1. Avoid logos and bold graphics
Logo’s and bold graphics can distract from the rest of the image, they are designed to be looked so the viewers eye will naturally be drawn to the clothing, rather than the people in the image. Graphics, such as cartoon characters on t-shirts, can also date an image. Plain or patterned clothing is better for a timeless look that will look great on your walls for years to come.
2. Be co-ordinated, not matching
Having everyone wearing a white t shirt and jeans may be an easy way to go, but that look is a little outdated now and it’s nice to have everyone dressed differently so that they are still individuals. Instead, focus on co-coordinating, not being completely the same. Here are a few ideas to stay cohesive
- Pick a key colour and work around that, for example if you choose blue, have everyone wear a mix of navy, white and blue. These colours blend well together, so your family style will be cohesive.
- Choose all cool colours, or all warm colours. Cool colours are greys, blues, purples and some pinks. Warm colours are browns, reds, oranges and yellows.
- Blend dark and light colours carefully. If everyone is in light colours, a dark pair of jeans will stand out. Similarly, if everyone is in dark clothes, a white shirt will stand out. Ensure there is a good mix, so no one stands out over everyone else.
- Think about the style you are going for, e.g. dress, formal, boho, rustic. Focus on that style for everyone.
3. Feel comfortable
If the clothes you are wearing are uncomfortable, it will show in the images. Particularly with young children, who often have no filter and will be very vocal about itchy jumpers
4. Think about the location
Decide on the location before you plan your outfit. That way you can be sure that your outfit choices match your location. W.g. light and airy on the beach, smart in the city. There will also be practical considerations for your location, such as easy to remove footwear at the beach so everyone can paddle, and sturdy footwear for a rural setting.
5. Think of the season
Warm colours look great in the Autumn next to the russet colours of the leaves. Reds look great for Christmas photos and pastels are perfect for Spring. Of course, this is just a guide, so don’t choose colours that you do not like just because you think that’s just what you should pick.
6. There will be mud
If your session is being held in a park or field, there is bound to be at least a little mud, and you know you that young children will always find it. I’ll try to avoid mud wherever possible, but it’s not possible to avoid it completely when shooting in parks or fields. To lessen the impact of mud:
- Wear dark colour shoes so that it doesn’t show.
- Avoid wearing your very best shoes if you’re worried about mud
- Go for wipe-clean shoes like leather over canvas or suede which will be more difficult to clean.
If you really don’t like the idea of getting muddy, it’s a good idea to prep your children first. Perhaps take some wellies and a puddle suit and promise the children they can get muddy after the session, as long as they avoid the mud during the session.
7. Mum, don’t forget about yourself
Mum, I know you will probably be the one picking out everyone’s outfits, making sure everything fits and is laundered before the session. Don’t forget about yourself though. Do you feel gorgeous in your outfit? If you don’t feel good, it will show in the photos. Choose something to makes you feel great, and you will look great. Take some time to pamper yourself before the session. Get a massage, or your nails done. You’ll feel more relaxed during the session and it will show in the images.
8. Pay attention to detail
Chipped nails, gaping buttons on shirts, and stains can out stand in photos. Pay attention to the details and ensure everyone is looking their best.
10. Footwear and Accessories
Avoid white shoes or trainers, out eyes are naturally drawn to lighter areas of an image and we don’t want that to be your feet, wear dark socks for the same reason. Some accessories such as scarves and hats can add interest to an image, but avoid anything too big and bright, as they can overwhelm the image. Keep jewellery simple, remember, less is more.
11. Plan ahead
Ensure everything is laundered before the session. Check everything fits. We all know how quickly small children grow out of their clothes. Have everything on hand the night before so you are not rushing before the session. If you are getting a hair cut, do it at least a week before so it has chance to grow about a little before the session.
12. Limit Black Clothing
Many people I speak to like black because it is slimming, but it is also a harsh colour that can wash out paler skin tones. Other dark colours are also slimming but are softer and more flattering next to skin. Navy, charcoal grey or brown work great if you prefer dark colours.
13. Fit and Flatter
I hold my hands up here and admit that I like to wear loose fitting clothes to hide my shape, but as comfortable as this is, loose clothing makes us look larger than we are. Choose well fitting, flattering clothes instead. Here is a great article that gives advice about how to flatter different body shapes.
Ready to plan your family session? Contact me here.
You may also be interested in these articles on family photography