"What should I wear for my family's photo session?"

This is, without a doubt, the most frequently asked question (after "How much do you charge" of course!). As the mom of 2 boys and wife to a reluctant model, I can absolutely attest to the fact that getting everyone dressed is the most stressful part of the photo session process. I have tried many tactics over the years. Today I'm going to share with you some of my most successful tips for styling your family in a practical and stress-free (well, almost stress free) way.

Start With Mom

Mom, you are most likely going to be the one looking at these photos the most, and how you feel will influence how your family feels. If you feel great in your outfit, that's half the battle won. Choose something that feels comfortable and flatters your figure. Be sure that your outfit (including shoes!) will move with you. My sessions (and most lifestyle sessions) involve a lot of action and walking around. Your clothes should also reflect your personality and fit in the decor style of your home or wherever the photos will be displayed. If you have a taste for modern decor but dress your family in a boho style for your session, you may be unhappy with the results and reluctant to show off your photos. Remember, these are YOUR photos and should reflect who you are, not the latest trend.

Create A Color Plan

Once you have mom's outfit chosen, decide which color is the main color and which colors will be accent colors. From there your can choose outfits for the rest of the family using that color plan. Not every family member has to be in every color! Mix and match colors with textures and patterns to create a sophisticated look. It is better to create a coordinated palette rather that matching everyone. Not only does this create a more interesting portrait, it allows your photographer to create many looks within one gallery (which means YOU get more for your money!).

The colors you choose are as important as how you combine them. Saturated matte colors such as mustard, navy, maroon, or burnt orange photograph beautifully and compliment almost all skin tones. When colors are saturated vs. shiny you avoid a color cast on skin that can show up in images and are time consuming to edit out. Avoid bright, shiny colors such as neons, bright pinks/oranges/greens, or metallic fabrics.

Details Details Details

Finally, don't forget about all the little details:

Shoes: Make sure they are comfortable! If you have new shoes for anyone in the family, be sure to wear them around a few times. Kids can be very particular about shoes-I myself have a child on the autism spectrum and all wearable items must pass the comfort test! If possible, try to choose shoes that don't have logos or characters on them. If this isn't possible, it isn't a problem at all! Just be aware that they will be visible in at least some of your photos.

Accessories: Layers add sophistication and interest to your photographs, and they also can be added or removed to create multiple looks easily. Pair scarves, vests, jackets, and jewelry with your outfits for a varied palette.

Try mixing patterns in monochromatic tones to create an interesting neutral palette!

Pair a bold pattern with vibrant solid color and neutrals for a coordinated-not matching!-look.

Solid, saturated colors mixed with texture and pattern add interest to every photo.

Final Thoughts

  • Shop your own closet first! Not only does this save you money, you can be sure that your own items fit well and are comfortable. Choose a favorite pair of pants and buy a new shirt, or vice versa. Your staple pieces should come from your own collection.
  • Check the weather for the day of your session. We do live in Texas, and as you may know the temperature and precipitation can change on a dime. This is another reason layers are always a good idea.
  • Keep it simple! Don't overthink your style. If you are having a session with me, then you are more interested in your family's relationship than in a particular style and that's a good thing! If your kids will only wear one thing, it may be annoying right now but when you look back on the photos you will remember that season of your life and honestly, that's what my photography is all about.
  • If all else fails and you are stressed, send photos of your planned wardrobe to your photographer! We can help you style your family and advise on what will photograph well.

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