Choosing outfits for family photos can be overwhelming. Here are some simple things I do when choosing outfits for my own family photos to make it a little easier.
My first piece of advice is from one mom to another, choose your outfit first. Now, I don’t always take my own advice. Dressing my kids is a creative outlet for me and they just have so many cute clothes to choose from. It’s easy to jump straight to their outfits but that often leaves me searching the depths of my closet, Nordstrom RACK, or Target for something to go with their outfits. Nothing seems to work and I am left feeling in love with their outfits and wishy washy about my own. So, take my advice and choose your outfit first. Find something you love and feel great in and use that as your base. I love dresses for this because the flow of a dress adds so much interest in the photos by allowing movement. A flowy top or wearing your hair down in curls can also have the same effect. You do not have to wear a dress, but think about how you can help add movement and interest to your photos with your outfits without distracting from what the photos are really about, your family! This advice would also apply to the parents in any type of family situation, I think, but I can really only speak from my own motherhood experience on this.
The next best tip I can give you when styling a family for a shoot is to consider the levels in which each member falls. To illustrate this I have a photo of my own family with lines across so you can imagine the “levels” I’m talking about. Consider the ages and heights of everyone. For these family photos we
had our youngest who needed to be held the whole time, so he would be on the top level. His outfit would need to look good with not only my top (in this case a dress) but also my husband’s top and coordinate with the kids for photos with just the three of them. Our other two kiddos are still pretty short at 3 and 5 years old, so they were mainly on the bottom level and standing near my dress or my husband’s pants. So with this in mind I made sure their outfits didn’t compete or clash with that part of our outfits and that they also tied in with an item or two on the top level.
With these things in mind, here is how I start.
I lay my outfit on our bed or an open floor space. I pull out 1-2 tops and 1-2 pants for my husband and place them next to my outfit in their respective “levels.” Now, I will sometimes buy new pieces at this point for the kids if they need, but like I said, they usually have a pretty cute wardrobe. I’ll pull out a couple options for each kid and lay them by our outfits in the correct layers (baby’s outfits up on top, kiddos on the bottom). From there I just start playing around with it. I’ll pull out pieces I don’t like and switch back and forth between different pants, tops, etc. that I have out until it feels balanced and coordinated. You are going for balance and coordination!
Tricks of the trade: A few things I’ve learned from years of photographing families
Thin closely spaced stripes don’t usually translate well on camera, think of the look you get when you try to take a picture of your computer screen with your phone. It can look kind of funky.
Bright colors don’t always translate true to color and can cast colored hues on your skin making skin tones look off.
Try to stick to one or two patterned pieces and usually the smaller the pattern the better. This is not always true, sometimes a big floral can look great if you pair it well.
It helps to repeat a pop of color again in a smaller way. Example: One kid is wearing a mustard yellow top, another kid could wear a mustard yellow bow.
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