What not to wear: Clothing tips for family photos
The number one rule for clothing choices for family photos is to keep it simple. You want to keep the portrait’s focus on the subject; therefore, the most simple clothing choices are best for creating timeless portraits. I suggest loose fitting solid neutral colors, avoiding strong patterns, logos, words, or fun characters. Jeans, khakis, T-shirts, polos, sun dresses are all classics and photograph well.
Some other tips and tricks for fabulous family photos:
- Coordinate, don’t copy. Choose 2-3 colors for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that color palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones. OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones. So that we see the people first and your portrait looks stunning. Wedding group photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colors and the people stand out!
- Aim for classic but current. Trends are fun, but classics are forever. You might want to update timeless pieces with current accessories.
- No neons! Wear solid colored clothing so that we see all of your faces and no one person stands out. If you wear bold stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group. Subdued, muted tones will highlight your family and not be distracting.
- Turn up the texture. Whether it’s a nubby sweater, a tweedy scarf or a fur vest, varying textures adds dimension and visual interest.
- Girl talk… To look your best, choose similar tones for your top and bottom (both dark or both light) so that one doesn’t look bigger than the other. White top, dark pants will make your top look bigger. White pants, dark top will make your butt look bigger. Choose skirts and dresses that are about knee level so that your legs don’t take attention from your face, and you will be able to sit and bend easily. All bodies look good in wrap tops, A-line skirts, and jackets cinched at the waist.
- Powder it up. Makeup should be a little bolder than everyday, but not garish or overly trendy. Be sure to top it all off with some powder to eliminate any shine.
- Groom the guys. I know he probably doesn’t want to switch it up too much, but details matter for him, too. A close shave and some moisturizer go a long way. Make sure his shirt and pants are clean and well-pressed, no frayed necklines.
- No white socks. Choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach) because white just sticks out like a sore thumb and that’s all you’ll notice in your portrait. For guys the socks should match the pants, not the shoes. Also, make sure all shoes are in decent shape, or again, that’s all you’ll notice. For kids, ballet flats, and loafers are perfect.
- Ditch the bling. Keep all jewelry simple and classic because too much draws attention from your face. This is especially important for men with big watches.
- Keep hair consistent and natural. Do your hair the way you normally do it while wearing these clothes – no fancy up-dos with jeans. You want your portrait to be timeless and represent who you are, not just what you look like coming out of the hair salon. If you want to get a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session. Fresh hair cuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need it to grow out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session.
- If you are unsure of clothing choices, I suggest bringing a few outfits that you are considering and allowing me to help you make the final choice. You can also email or text me some photos of the choices. If we are shooting at my studio, I also have on hand a few items for kids like dresses and tutus that you are welcome to incorporate into the session.
I want your portrait to focus on the unique qualities of each subject, and not just what outfit they were wearing. Clothing should compliment your portrait, not complicate it.