“What do you suggest for outfits?” This is one of the top questions I get during the pre-session consultations that I have with my clients. Tons of holiday pictures (whether professional or snapped on an iPhone in your backyard) are right around the corner. So why not share what I always tell my clients when the question comes up?
Number One Tip (with nine million exclamations behind it) ---
Dress mom first.
Who is initially contacting me because they want updated family photos? 99% of the time it's mom. Moms (myself included) are by far the hardest on themselves when it comes to finding something picture worthy to wear. Mom, pick your outfit first and base everyone else’s around your’s---kids look cute in anything and dads (typically) don’t care and just want to be told what to wear. Pick an outfit that is flattering for you and that you feel BEAUTIFUL in. Because let’s be honest, when you get the photos back, who is the first person you’ll look at? You! And if you don’t like the way you look, you won’t like the photo. And if you don’t like the photo, it won’t get put on holiday cards or printed for your walls, and then what’s the point??
So how should mom go about picking what to wear for themselves?
Go for fit over anything else (color, pattern, trend). Accentuate the parts of your body that you love and conceal the ones you might be a little self conscious about. For example, I’m not a fan of my arms or knees, so you’ll never see a family photo of me with a sleeveless shirt or short dress.
Make sure to give your body some shape. The best way for ladies to do that is to create a flattering waist line. Even if you don’t necessarily like you’re middle, look for empire waists, cropped jackets, or a thin belt around your natural waist. If you have legs that you're proud of, show them off in a skirt or dress.
Ok, so mom’s figured out, now what?
Please (pretty please) don’t go all matchy matchy (the everyone in jeans and white shirts look ---> just don’t).
It’s all about balance. If mom is dressing in a pretty bold print, then more subtle patterns and solids are best for the rest of the family.
Create interest with solids by adding layers, varying textures, and accessories. Lace, knits, flowing chiffon all have very different texture, and can add great variety in photos even if they're in the same color group. The best way I can describe it is if everyone in the shot stood side-by-side in a line, would either the top or the bottom look all the same? You want to avoid this. Even if it just means going up or down a shade in the same color family on an item.
Ever hear of the phrase “don’t try anything new on race day?” Well it basically means, stick to what you know when it comes to game time. Don’t use the morning of the pictures to try a new hairstyle or makeup routine, unless you’ve tested and perfected it at least a few times before. You want to look your best in the photos, but you also want to look like you.
Hard and fast super don’ts
Avoid any graphic tees, shirts with phrases or words, visible logos, and neon colors. These are super distracting in photos and the eye will be immediately drawn to them instead of your beautiful smiles.
For little girls in dresses and skirts, don’t forget to put a diaper cover or solid, neutral-colored pair of bike shorts underneath. You don’t want that sweet shot of her being tickled ruined by a flash of Disney princess panties.
These are a few of my families’ favorite choices:
Josh has the print aspect taken care of, and although Ashley and Hudson are both in solid tops, Ashley’s flowy, feminine dress adds texture and interest. Josh and Hudson are both wearing blue shorts, but Hudson's darker hue prevents them from seeming too matchy. And all of their adorable-ness together make them look cohesive and coordinated.
Same concept with the Muhlbeiers. Amanda’s lacy dress is the perfect texture and addition of interest to Knox’s solid shirt, while Dalton’s plaid shirt is the bold pattern. Now, baby Dru was still cooking at the time, but she could have been easily been popped in there with a charcoal or navy flowy dress with a tiny floral print to finish off their perfect family photo.
The Thompson’s mommy and me session is a good example on how to incorporate multiple kiddos. Hunter’s plaid accents on his shirt cuffs coordinate with Henry’s solid shorts. Charlotte’s bold floral dress balances perfectly with Jennifer’s solid, chiffon top. And what says super mom more than crazy cute wedges?
This extended family session was styled to perfection! The guys coincidentally all wore black pants but little Ava's light-colored, perfectly ruffled skirt gets all of the attention in this group shot. The guys did a great job of adding layers for variety and you can see how the ladies' use of small print and varying blue tones made everyone look distinctive as an individual while still cohesive as a group.
The most important Don’t:
Don’t let it stress you out! Honestly, most people (and I’m the WORST) think way too much into it, and once it’s all said and done, you don’t really notice what everyone is wearing (unless your photographer is writing a blog about it and dissecting your choices to use your photos as examples 😬...sorry!). The goal is to look natural and comfortable so that you are completely googly eyed around your family for an hour or so---> because that's what really makes for great photos.
These are just a few tips to hopefully steer you in the right direction. I hope it helps a little! I’d love to hear some ideas you guys have and offer any help to make your decisions at all easier!