The first thing I get asked from most families is what to wear for their family portrait session. Usually, the mom is stressed out wanting to ensure the portraits will be amazing (you know it’s true). Well, I’m here to help prevent that! I’ve been doing this for a long time and I want to share my knowledge to help you and your family look amazing!
1. Start with what your end-goal is for your images.
Are you wanting to put these images on your wall? Then think about the color scheme of your room and make sure that the palette matches your decor. If the wall where you plan to hang your family portrait is brightly colored, you may want to avoid brightly colored outfits so the colors don’t compete. Instead, opt for soft neutrals or muted tones. On the other hand, if your walls are neutral, pops of color in your outfits would look great!
2. Coordinate Outfits instead of Matching
Gone are the days of white shirts and blue jeans…SERIOUSLY. Also, Everyone shouldn’t wear the same color or dress in the same style! Each person in your family can dress in a way that fits their own personality. And you can still look pulled together in your family pictures. Think about what Pinterest family pictures you like best? I bet they aren’t wearing the same thing…I’ll also leave some palette ideas below!
3. How to Coordinate your Outfits
- I say start with mom. Choose your outfit first. (Yes I love dresses on ladies because I think they flatter any size and shape). Find your perfect dress, skirt or whatever and base the rest of the families outfits with colors that coordinate with you.
- Patterns like plaids, stripes, and florals. You can even mix-and-match them, and don’t be afraid to layer them with solid colors and denim.
- Fitted clothes. Tailored outfits will always look better than loose-fitting clothing. If you feel the need, wear Spanx to smooth rolls (we all have them). Also, you should choose a cut that works best on each family member’s body type.
- **Be careful with small patterned shirts. It is common that small patterns cause something called Moiré pattern in your photos that require extra editing that hopefully takes it away!
- Don’t have the same color top/bottom on everyone. Imagine if everyone in your family wore a light-colored top and dark pants. If I took a picture of your family standing up, there would be a visual line at your waist separating the top half of the portrait (light-colored shirts) and bottom half of the photograph (dark pants). By having different colors on tops and bottoms as well as using a variety of styles (skirts, dresses, pants and shirts) you can avoid this dreaded horizontal line and create a much more interesting family portrait.
- Wear layers!! Layers add dimension and depth to your images. If it’s hot outside layer with accessories – cute belts, necklaces, bracelets, etc. If it’s cool weather cardigans, vests, scarves, boots and hats are all great examples. Avoid graphics on clothing – accessorize instead!
- Go Glam. I’m not sure I even have to say this, but if you want to go all out with suits and sequin dresses, I’m ALL IN.
4. Think about Family Groupings
Lastly, when you think you have your outfits selected and ready to go, lay them all out together and take a quick cell phone picture of it. When you look at the picture, do you love it? Do you see anything that needs to change? It’s funny how a picture can often show us little issues. Maybe there is too much of one color. Or one little splash of yellow that needs to be tied into other outfits. This allows you to make small tweaks or changes before your big day!
Also, if you plan to have a picture taken of just your children together, or a mommy-daughter picture, be sure to consider how those outfits look together as well. If your daughter has a flowered dress on and you son is also wearing a heavy pattern, it may be a bit too much when they are the only two in the picture. If this is the case, you could select a different outfit for one of them. Or you could choose to add a solid sweater, jacket or cardigan to one of the outfits when they are paired together for a photo.
Some Color Palette Boards for Inspiration
5. Be Ready to have FUN!
I know this is hard. Sometimes family pictures are stressful…ok, most times. This is the problem. If mama’s pissed the kids are pissed. I’ve had families show up and I can hear the 2-year old screaming from a mile away. So, just fake it till you make it. Act like you’re excited and we are just going to be playing.