I should probably start this post with the disclaimer, that I am NOT a stylist. In fact, I am not sure I would even consider myself STYL-ISH! This is one of the reasons that I don’t like to give too much direction on what my clients wear. More often than not, a family pulls up to a session and I am wowed at what they are wearing (in a good way). And the fun part is, their outfits are not something that I would have/could have picked out- but it just. works. So, I guess for this post, it might be more of what NOT to wear. Some things I have learned along the way of what photographs well...and some things that do not.
Tip #1: Avoid matchy- matchy.
Everyone in white shirts and jeans has a very dated look. Also, even more than that, when photographing kids that have all been dressed in matching clothes, it suddenly becomes hard to see where one kid stops and another starts. Arms blend together, etc.
(Disclaimer #1: I have lots of mom friends who love to have their kids in matching clothes, and in everyday life I think it is ADORABLE too! It's just, in pictures, complimentary clothes (vs matching) photograph better…In my opinion. Except Christmas morning pajama pictures...matching Christmas jammies win every time for me!)
Here is an example of perfectly coordinated (but not matching) kiddos!
Tip #2: Be comfortable! (and practical)
Most of my sessions are in a field, on a farm, etc. Stiletto heels *might* not be the best choice! I also do a variety of standing and sitting shots. Short, tighter fitting skirts might keep you from comfortably snuggling up with your family on a blanket on the ground. Also, with little girls wearing a dress or skirt, I highly recommend throwing on a pair of those under shorts/playground shorts/cartwheel shorts (I think every store calls them something different). If your daughter is anything like mine, she hasn’t quite figured out how to be “lady-like” when wearing a skirt!
Example of a family that chose a beautiful color palette AND is comfortable enough to get cozy on the ground! (This mom is also a photographer, so she knows a thing or two!):
Tip #3: Just say ‘NO’ to neon.
Light reflects off of surfaces. And when it reflects, it will reflect the color it is bouncing off of. This is one reason that when I am shooting, I am always in a white or black shirt. If I were to wear my fave Clemson tshirt, when I am getting in close for a shot of your sweet baby, their face would have an orange reflection on it. And, as much as I love my orange…no need for your baby’s face to be that color. Whatever color YOU are wearing, will reflect off onto you and your family that is standing around you. This is referred to as ‘color cast’. The effect is much more noticeable with bright colors, so muted tones are the way to go! And, an added bonus, muted tones are timeless, neons/bright colors come and go with the fads (hello 80’s and early 90’s!).
Here is an example (NOT my picture) of color casting on faces. See how yellow the one girl's face is, and how orange the other one is? It's not cute. The side pony is though. ;)
Tip #4: Pick a color or two, and go from there.
The biggest tip I give families is to choose a color or two (or three, max), and make sure each family member has at least one of those colors. Let’s use plum, navy, and gray as our example. And, if you are anything like me, I am the hardest/pickiest to find something for, so I always start with me and go from there. So, say mom is in a navy dress that has a floral pattern (plum being one of the colors in the flowers). Dad can wear jeans with a checked button up shirt that has a plum/burgundy color to it, with a navy vest or pullover. A daughter could wear a plum tutu dress, navy stripe tights, and a gray cardigan. Or a daughter could have on a denim dress with burgundy tights (denim totally counts as a navy in my book!). And a son could wear gray pants, a fun graphic shirt with a plaid shirt that has navy and burgundy in the plaid.
Just a FEW examples of some of my clients showing off their styling skills at their sessions with me.
One BIG tip that I learned during OUR family pictures last year is to think about who will be beside each other in pictures. My daughter is a huge ‘mama’s girl’, so in all of the family pictures, she wants to stand by me, have me hold her, sit in my lap… So by default, my son is beside my husband. Last year, I had my husband and son in plaid- and I think it would have been fine…if there had been some separation between them. But, I wasn’t thinking about my sweet little Stage 10 Clinger, and plaid on plaid wasn’t ideal.
Bottom line, make sure everyone is in complimentary outfits, so it doesn’t matter where the kids end up in the pictures.
REAL bottom line- do I still love my family pictures from last year, even though there is “plaid on plaid”? Yes! Did I still order a 16x20 canvas to hang in my hall? YES! So, the REAL bottom line is that these pictures will have the people you cherish most in this world in them, so it really doesn’t matter what everyone is wearing!
(But, it doesn’t hurt to keep these tips in mind!) 😉
Picture of my family from last fall (and all its plaid glory):
Photo credit: Rebecca Perkins Photography
And one more sweet picture by Rebecca of my little mini me, just because: