Sunday, March 3, 2013

How to dress for a family photo shoot.

This is a tricky subject.  Mostly because style is very personal. And I'm not you.  But who I am, is someone who sees a LOT of people in photos.  Aside from my personal work, I am always studying.  Studying other people's work.  Studying the light in the evenings.  Studying color combinations in nature and in life.  I love to take in my surroundings, and I am - above all - a people watcher.  I L O V E people watching.  To probably, I would say, an unhealthy degree.  But because of this weird quirk of mine, and because I have photographed enough families / groups to know, I kinda feel like I have something to offer y'all on this subject.
And, as I prefer in life, I am going to start off with the "bad" news.  The don'ts.  Here we go.

Don't NUMBER 1.
Please please please don't dress your family in the whole white shirts and jeans / khakis. This is not 1993. As a matter of fact, try not to wear any white - unless you are a small person under the age of 2.  The reasoning behind this: the eye is ALWAYS drawn to white first.  Go ahead.  Try it.
Instead of white, try cream, ivory, off-white.  Off-white goes a long way, looks more natural, and is a great color for any complexion.  Ooh, and while we're at it, a lot of super bright colors, and BLACK don't photograph well either. Sorry.

Don't NUMBER 2.
Please don't try so hard.  It shows.  I know, I know.  You want everything to match.  Match the venue, match each other, match the room in your house said picture will be hung.  Trust me, I am soooo guilty of this for my own family.  But I've found with photographing y'all, and with my own family's photos, all this stress just isn't worth it.  Stop stressin' and allow things to look natural.  The truth is, the harder you try, the more forced things will look and feel.

Don't NUMBER 3.
Please don't "match". No little boys with the same exact shirts, no little girls wearing the same exact dresses.  Moms & dads - PLEASE don't wear matching sweaters. Let some personality shine through.  Trust me.

Don't NUMBER 4.
NO NEW BALANCE SNEAKERS.  Or running shoes of any brand.  Nike, Reebok, etc.  Barefoot is better than that, so please keep your shoe choices in mind.  And I mean this even for the kids.  Please.  Please.  No sneakers.

Don't NUMBER 5.
No brands.  Specifically anything that screams, "OLD NAVY", and the like. It's distracting, and this is not an advertisement for the store thankyouverymuch.

Ok! All done with the negativity!  That wasn't so bad, huh?!?

Here's the DO's!
DO number 1.
When choosing everyone's outfit, choose to tackle the hardest personal first. And by that, I mean YOU. The mom.  Let's face it - if mama don't look good in the picture, and she kind of cringes everytime she looks at it, that photo is NOT going up on the wall.  This is honestly what I do in my family.  If I like what I have chosen for myself and I feel confident, then the battle is half-over.  Ok, so maybe in your family, your hubby is the tricky one.  Find out what he'd like to wear (give him a few options, or take him shopping for a new shirt, etc.) and then go around that.  Again, hubs - NO NEW BALANCE.

DO number 2.
Accentuate the feature you like about each person.  Over the years I have found that when I'm dressed in something sleeveless, even though I like my arms, I'm not happy with the photos.  because it's a LOT of skin in the head shots. But I don't think that I'm the only adult who would feel this way, so it's a safe bet to make sure everyone except lil ladies has got some sleeves on.
Let me give you some more examples of this.  In my family, I've found that I like to accentuate my husband & sons' eyes, my daughter's hair, and my legs / smile.  When choosing outfits and accessories, I try to keep these features in mind.

DO number 3.
Follow the rule of 3! 3 colors.  Keep them neutral.  If you want to include a pattern, I suggest keeping it subtle and keeping it to one or two people in the family.  The pattern doesn't need to be the exact same, just something coordinating.  Then the other outfits can coordinate with these prints.
Keep the venue / shoot location in mind.  Although I don't recommend trying to be matchy-matchy with the location, it's good to keep your surroundings in mind.
Here are some of my favorite color combos:
green, blue, gray
brown, orange, green
yellow, blue, cream
teal, coral, gray
cream, orange, blue

Do number 4.
Embrace individuality.  If your 3 year old is obsessed with his Batman costume and getting him out of it is a chore, just go with it! A few years will pass and when you look back at that photo you will smile at the memory of that phase that is probably long gone.  And, if you're anything like me, you'd give anything to get it back.  So why not make a great memory out of it!
Keep in mind the opposite... if you have 3 sons and you chose the color combo of teal, coral and gray, you should probably keep the coral color on yourself.  Your photographer doesn't need any moody teenagers because mama is makin' them wear a color they hate (cough, cough - CORAL!).

Do number 5.
Some tips on shoes and accessories.  These can make or break your seshy.  Consider your surroundings.  An urban shoot? Converse and flip flops are awesome.  Or maybe Sperrys and ballet flats for the ladies.  If it's a lifestyle shoot (read: at home), barefoot is best as long as the weather is great.  An orchard shoot lends itself to boots, cozy hats and fun gloves / leg warmers during the fall.  During the spring throw on some fun contrasting color cardigans, headbands and socks.
Always keep the time of year in mind.

All that being said, I'm going to give you some visual DO'S!

.photo cred diana rothery.
.photo cred diana rothery.
 .photo cred diana rothery.

 {embrace individuality! our family shoot fall '11. this was our christmas card}

 I hope this helps.  If you have a scheduled shoot with me and would like some feedback on what you're choosing for your brood, I would love to help you.  I am more than happy to let you pick my brain and offer you some suggestions, etc.  Cheers to many great family memories hanging on those walls!

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