What {NOT} to wear in family photos!

9:01 AM
What to wear, what to wear... 

This can certainly be one of the most time consuming and difficult parts of a family photo shoot. A few years back when I switched taking pictures with a fellow photographer, I put off getting our pictures done for MONTHS mainly because I just couldn't get the outfits together! Sad, I know.

So here are some Do's and Don't of clothing choices... (Let it be known that this is MY opinion. I do not think that I'm better than anyone else. This is just a list of suggestions.)

1-match! Gone are the days of everyone wearing kacki pants and a white shirt. ugh. It's boring, it's not flattering and it's so 90's.

2-have everyone wear one exact color. Especially RED. (again, it's a little too 90's)

3-have the boys wear a stuffy suit and tie and the girls wear fluffy frilly uncomfortable dresses. If the person is uncomfortable, it will show up in the photo. Also, if everyone is looking formal with their clothing, the pictures won't come across as natural.

4-wear shirts with logo's or distracting pictures on them. (i.e. shirts that say "GAP", "OLD NAVY", has a comic book character, or a popular kids character) This is just distracting in a photo. It also takes away from that "timeless" look.

5-wear sneakers! ugh. When a family neglects their choice of shoes, it throws the whole picture off. Rightly said by Ryan Gosling in Crazy, Stupid Love, “Are you in a fraternity? Are you Steve Jobs, the billionaire CEO of Apple? No? Then you have no reason to wear New Balance shoes. Ever!”

For those visual learners I created a little "What NOT to wear" illustration for you...

1- coordinate pop's of color. Establish a base color, like grey, and then accent with 1 or 2 splashes of color, like yellow or turquoise. Not everyone needs to wear the accent color. For example, the Dad and son might just be wearing grey and black while the girls in the family bring in the color splashes in their outfits.

2-layer your clothing. During the summer months this may be difficult but doing it in the other seasons brings more visual appeal and interest to your photo's. Start with a plain shirt then add a sweater or jacket. For a guy, wear a long sleeve shirt under a button up with the sleeves rolled up.

3-combine colors and patterns. Another way to gain more visual appeal is to throw in some patterns that coordinate with your color splashes. For example, a cool plaid shirt on a guy or a pattern t-shirt under a jacket or sweater for a girl.

4-bring your own personality in with accessories...hat's, leg warmers (for little girls), scarves, necklaces, etc. Adding these trinkets helps to bring in your own family style and personality.

5- wear something that is flattering on you. I know this may sound like a "given" but I'm surprised to hear a lot of Mom's who come to their family photo shoot and complain about how they "hate" their arms but yet are wearing a short cropped sleeve that draws attention their arms! So if you are self-conscious about your arms, wear a long sleeve or 3/4 sleeve or if you aren't a fan of your toosh, wear a long jacket. The fact is, if you feel comfortable, you will look comfortable in the photo's.

Here are some visual examples of some good coordinating outfits...



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Staci said...

Thanks so much for the tips. I shared with my readers on FB!!!

Sarah Harkins said...

My family of 19 (3 generations) took a family photo for a baptism. Although we were supposed to wear white for an outside shot, there ended up being bits of other colors in the photo. I think it is the best large family photo I have ever seen and everyone who sees it, loves it. You're right about too much matchy-matchy. But with our large group, we needed something to unite the group. I think we had just enough matchy with some variety in color. against the backdrop of the green grass and I think it turned out well. Here the link in case you are interested in seeing it: http://theclayrosarygirl.blogspot.com/2011/06/baptism-photos-professional-edition.html

thanks for all the tips! Love the one of about the sneakers! so true.

dana said...

this is so great. Love the outfits!

crystalyn said...

sneakers with khakis and white shirts...oh my. Great idea to not have everyone wearing the pop of color.

Alex White said...

I've been reading some Glamour Shots reviews in preparation to go in for our first family portraits, and we were all having trouble figuring out what we should wear. Thanks so much for this post, it was very helpful!

Correna Horwath said...

Can a family of four wear plaid shirts... Mom in purple plaid and 6 year old in blue plaid.. Dad and 13 yr boy want plaid too but I am wondering if that would be too much... Maybe solid colors for them

Anthony Burns said...

This is a good tip about taking portrait photography for family. Thanks!

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