About a month ago, I started booking for fall photos and about a month ago, I started getting a lot of emails with the same question: what to wear?
I am not an expert fashionista. I am only a photographer. But here are some tips that I've shared with my clients and I hope it will help you plan your upcoming photo shoot! (No pressure, it's just your Christmas card photo!)
1. No White. No Black.
I recommend that colors be used for fall photos. And if you choose to do light or dark colors, choose an ivory or cream or gray instead of black and white. My camera just isn't a fan of black and white.
2. Try Not To Match Perfectly.
I know the trend of all white shirts was popular a while back, but what works best with my style of photography is a palette of similar or complementary tones, not exact matching colors. When planning a photo session for my family, I typically find the dress or outfit that I like and fits me best. It typically has a subtle pattern, whether floral or flannel, and I will choose a neutral or any solid and complementary color from that pattern and "pull it out" in a solid shirt on my son and then find another similar color and "pull it out" in a solid shirt on my husband. If my outfit is solid colors, then I will look for subtle patterns for my son and husband that pull in my solid colors. But the tones being all warm or all cool and the colors being complementary will give the family photo that pop that you want on the front of your Christmas card. Some stylish colors that go well this time of year are olive green, denim, navy, tan, fuchsia or burgundy.
3. Patterns Vs. Solids
In my experience, I prefer patterns to be on the littles OR on the women/girls and let the solids be on the adults OR on the men/boys. My family just went to the beach and I grabbed a summery maxi dress with a colorful pattern. It had pink, navy and sea green in it. So I then grabbed navy shorts and a sea green shirt for Gage and khaki shorts and light turquoise shirt for Mitch. (Dont ask how a black undershirt got in the photo, cause I don't know) The colors probably matched a little too closely, but I was taking the photo myself and I could edit accordingly. If I could change one thing it would be to have Mitch in an ivory or navy shirt. But my point is to allow a break up in solids and patterns but to choose subtle patterns, thin lines do crazy things in a photo, and big chevron or diamond patterns can distract from the subject which is your family.
4. I Swear By Navy Blue.
Navy and mustard yellow. Navy and coral. Navy and burgundy. Navy and tan. Navy and sage green. Navy and light blue. Navy and light gray. There are so many endless combinations and themes that go with navy and it is always in style. If you are looking for a starting point- I will suggest navy blue.
5. Comfort Trumps Fashion.
Choose an outfit that you are comfortable in. If you feel self-conscious because the dress you chose is stylish or was on sale but makes your thighs look bigger than they are or makes your arms look funny, THAT concern WILL show in your expression and your body language. I always encourage my clients to dress for their body type, not what is on the racks. If you have a small waist, wear a dress or top that accentuates that or wear a belt to bring the attention to your best features. I am pear shaped so I typically choose a maxi dress or wear dark pants and a bring the attention to the top of my body, which is smaller. But either way, be sure to choose comfortable clothes that you FEEL confident in and I promise you will LOOK more confident in the photos. I say this all the time: I cannot Photoshop in confidence :) I have beautiful clients and I love seeing them laugh and play with their families without having to pull and tug on their clothes.
6. Be Touchy Feely
When I see a family photo, I am immediately drawn to the mother's hands. I know, weird. But body language says so much and when your face is smiling but your arms are crossed or awkwardly hanging by your side- unfortunately their story trumps the smile on your face. So parents- always try to have your hands lovingly touching the shoulder or waist of your child or lovingly holding your spouse's hand. No matter what the pose, your photo feels connected if you are all physically touching.
7. Relax And Have Fun With It!
I always try to get my clients to laugh within the first minute or two of a shoot. When they really laugh, I know what their real smile looks like so that's what I try to capture from then on. I want my clients to have a good time, to play and giggle and be silly with their beautiful children. I will pose you a few times, but I will also ask you to just play and sing any of your favorite songs or do your favorite handshakes, give piggyback rides, fly your kids like an airplane... whatever you do for fun at home, I hope to see in front of my camera as well. That way I can truly capture the joy and beauty of your precious family. So please, relax and try to have fun!
8. Plan Ahead.
I encourage families to pick out their outfits, shoes, headbands, bows and bowties and have them all assembled and ready to go the day before your shoot. Family photos can be SO STRESSFUL without having to tear the house apart looking for the baby's only bow that matches your dress and the toddler's other shoe that you could've sworn was beside the dryer but now it's gone. (I'm speaking from experience here) Life with kids is crazy but having all of the clothes and accessories in one place beforehand will make it less stressful for the parents and children the day of and you will show up a little less frazzled and more willing to be touchy feely and playful :)