After doing family photos for several years, the most common questions I get pertain to what exactly people should wear, how to do their hair or anything else you can think of in relation to appearance. It's hard to give broad instructions without governing someone's personal style. So here I have devised the most broad and encompassing list of things for preparing for your photos ensemble
Things to consider:
What the hell are we supposed to wear?!
I never like to say, “wear these colors and never ever wear this or that,” because lets face it… no one has the exact same tastes that another family does and some just look better in one thing or another.
However, there are some guidelines to prevent things that just look a little silly/off/insane. (Always talk to your group and get on the same page before you meet up and look a hot mess.)
1. Wearing anything with a printed name/logo/large image is generally not a good idea. Sure! It looks great now, but what about in 15 years when you realize that big name brand you once sported is a giant joke now. Or maybe that big image on your shirt distracts from the fresh beaming faces that are in the photo. “Cleaner” clothing (like solids or a simple pattern) stand the test of time a little better and are less likely to embarrass in the future.
2. Contrary to popular belief - patterned clothing and layered clothing are totally rockin’ for photos. However, these can be tricky. Too many patterns (or too many varying colors like plaids) can start to look like 70’s furniture and just end up a smorgasbord of patterns. Same goes for layers, if one person is all bundled up and other is in summer wear it looks a little silly. Put together all your clothing choices before hand to see if they work together. If you are really unsure just scrap the pattern idea and go for solids. Solids are safe and easier to match with.
3. Pick a theme or a color scheme for your group. No, you don’t all have to be matchy matchy with crisp white shirts, jeans, and chucks (though, this does photograph well). BUT making sure you all look like one group is important. When part of the family is wearing more relaxed clothing and the other part is in a little dressier attire, it looks disjointed and like your wardrobe was an afterthought
Choosing a theme
- Everyone wears flip flops, and jeans. The girls wear cardigans and the guys wear button downs.
- Everyone wears a scarf or some form of snuggly warm attire like a coat, hat, or boots.
- try a classic look where “vintage” is your theme. Gentlemen try a pageboy hat, button vest, trousers. Ladies how about put your hair in pin curls, a peter pan collar top. Be playful with your choices
Choosing a color scheme (avoid the single color choice, unless there are many of you so variance in color looks intentional, or you are all wearing the same brand’s clothing that used the same dye lots. When there are 3 or 4 people in red, generally reds don’t match and it looks weird.)
- Color schemes should either be just choosing something in the same color family (like creams, whites, tans and browns or something like lavender, cream, rich purple and black). Or going for the fun and wild thing with many colors but making sure they are all the same intensity. What exactly does intensity mean? Well, if momma is wearing bright blue, daddy is in bright red, Joe is in bright green and Sally is in soft pink… Sally looks a little out of place and like she is meant to stand out. If everyone stays in pastels, brights, or neutrals colors, you don’t have to match but they do go together. Crossing of those three categories (brights neutrals and pastels) should only ever happen when you are working with in a color family.
What about your hair and makeup?
- Your facial hair should be the best kept version of whatever your face forest (or lack there of) normally is. Shaving off your beard just because or growing a mustache just for the photos is alarming and doesn't look like the you everyone knows.
- Don’t use products/hair cut styles you have never done before. This is the WORST time to try that out. Maybe it will look smashing but… what if it makes you look like Gary Busey on a bad day? Stick with what you know looks good on you.
- You are gorgeous the way you are with the normal make up. Extra amounts than what you normally wear can look harsh or just not like yourself. Don’t over do the blush, bronzer, or whatever else. Trust me to make you look good, it’s my job! Besides you want to look like YOU right?
1. If you have light eye brows, pencil them in a little more than you normally would just so they don’t disappear on camera. You don’t need to go chola status, but just giving your brow a little extra depth prevents the flash from making you look like you shaved your eyebrows off.
2. Really dark eye make up can make your eyes look small or like you got punched in the face. Yikes. The lighter and fresher the eye, the bigger and brighter your eyes look which will ultimately make you look better in photos
3. Choose one thing to go bold on if you plan to do so. Either a bold lip or eyes. Don’t try to cram all your fabulousness into one face.
4. Having hair swept back from your face generally opens up your face more and makes it seem less like you are hiding behind hair. If you have long bangs, consider getting them trimmed a week before so you have time to play with styles and let it grow out just a smidgen so they don’t look freshly chopped and a little too structured (unless that’s the goal). Or try your hair in a fun up do. Always remember, seeing your face is the most important part, and not being able to see it while it is hidden behind long scraggly bangs is a bummer.
Ladies AND Gents
-DO NOT go tanning a day or two before. If you get fried, you will be a lobster in your photos. DO NOT get your brows done that day - puffy red skin isn’t attractive
- Try to look like yourself! This is the person everyone knows and loves!
Some photos for your wardrobe inspiration
Okay enough of the lecturing, the most important thing to remember is smile pretty and make sure you are having fun. =] Being comfortable is noticeable in photos and makes for the best keepers. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer questions, or suggest things they may not have thought of otherwise. They are working for YOU, so you need to be a satisfied client. But also, trust them. You hired them for their ability and liked their style enough to ask them to photograph you and your family. We work with you as much as you are willing to work with us. Happy photo shoot and the best outcomes!