Style Guide for Family Portraits. Toledo Ohio Family Photography.
By Amy Christensen
Being a fashion blogger has opened my eyes to an entire world that I was once not even interested in. I grew up with two older brothers, so was more concerned about riding my bike and playing in the creek behind our house, than learning about make up or being concerned about what to wear. When Rebecca decided to go into professional photography, my eyes were once again open to a world that I had only dabbled in when I was in high school. I had always been enamored by the idea of taking pictures that others would find beautiful, but I was more interested in nature photography and most of the pictures I took of people usually ended up off center and blurry. Now, I see just how beautiful pictures of people can be, especially when in the right setting with the right light and having a professional who knows what they are doing is a must for great family photos.
Rebecca has taught me many things about taking pictures and I in turn have shared what I have learned about putting outfits together and thrifty shopping with her and her sister. When Rebecca came up with the idea of collaborating on a post about what to wear to a family photo session, I was excited that we could combine both our areas of interest into one article.
There are numerous things to consider when thinking about what to wear for your family pictures. Colors, patterns and styles are all part of the, don't mind my pun, picture, but don't just think about the externals, think about your family as a whole and what they are going to feel comfortable standing in front of the camera in. Some people have a hard enough time getting their picture taken and feel totally awkward in front of the lens, but then add to that trying to make them wear clothing that is not their style or color preference and the smiles are not going to be very natural.
Here are a few simple ideas to help you get the best pictures out of your family sessions.
1. Know your family.
If your family is ultra casual don't ask them to get dressed in their best dresses and sport coats. Yes, you want them to look nice, but they won't look natural. There is a difference. If you have a family with a wide range of ages you may have to seek compromise from your children to provide a cohesive look for your pictures. For example, if your star basketball player usually wears gym shorts and his team tank, ask him to wear a nicer pair of jeans with a team tee instead. If your four year old only ever wants to wear her Elsa dress, see if she can find something in her closet (with your help) that has Elsa's beautiful blue and white colors for a different look. This is your family and that is what makes it unique. The pictures should represent who you are as individuals within that family.
2. Think about the season and location.
Thinking about what season it is will help you to dress appropriately for the day as well. If it is cold and snowy, you will need boots, hats and mittens. If the weather is overcast you might want to think about brighter colors, so that your family is the focal point of your portraits rather than the gloomy weather. If the weather is sweltering hot, that will also affect how your dress, in that you want to choose clothing that is light weight and breathable, so you all are comfortable during your session.
Be aware of your location as well. If your are going to a park where you will have to walk a ways, or a downtown location where you have to park and walk, be sure to include comfortable shoes. If you want to wear dressier shoes you can always carry them with you and put them on when you get to the actual shoot site. The family photo session should not be a labor, but a fun experience for the whole family. Think comfort and style for everyone involved.
We have gotten away from the idea of everyone wearing the same color, but there is something to be said for the unity and cohesiveness of a family portrait if there is some color unity through out. Instead of one color pick three, let's say blue, green and yellow. Each family member has the freedom of picking one of those colors as the color they want to wear. You could have dad wear blue, the boys wear green and mom wear a printed pattern that includes all three, or a dress with two of the colors adding a belt in the third color. Prints or solids are fine as long as they fall within your choice of colors for your shoot.
A good way to choose colors is to look at a color wheel chart. Check out Rebecca's Pinterest board for lots of great color combinations and coordinating outfits. My advice is to stay within the cool color range or the warm color range rather than picking colors from opposite sides. I believe that will make for a more unified look, even if you aren't wearing the exact same color.
One other way to choose colors is to go for neutrals. We don't usually think of choosing neutral colors for our pictures, but going with colors like gray, beige, black or navy, can really make your family look polished and classy. Especially when you combine these colors against the bold, backdrop of full summer bloom.
4. Patterns and Texture
When choosing outfits for your family shoot, don't shy away from patterns and texture. After you have picked your colors look for fun prints and patterns in those colors. For example if it is a summer shoot have mom pick one of her favorite floral maxi dresses, then draw on colors in that for the rest of the family. Let's say the dress contains bright pink, navy and jungle green. Dad could wear a navy polo, the boys variations of green and your little girl, that bright pink gingham dress she's been waiting to wear.
For a fun change in the cold weather think about adding fuzzy hats, mittens and scarves to your outfits. Have dad wear a light brown beret, mom wear a faux fur leopard print scarf, the boys long brown scarves and gloves and the girls creamy colored knit hats and mittens. Texture is a great thing to add to your outfits for variety and interest in your family photos. Think fuzzy, warm, outrageous Christmas sweaters for the holidays, shearling boots or coats or puffy vests in complimentary colors for other cold weather ideas.
The family photo session is an opportunity for your family to bond and have fun. Make an outing of it and go out for dinner or ice cream, after the shoot (just in case there are spills). Be sure to pick a time where everyone is rested and feeling well for the best possible outcome. Family photos are a way to capture a moment in time. Don't be afraid to have them done and to spend the money to have a professional like Rebecca take them. Using the tips above and working with a good photographer will give you beautiful pictures that you'll never regret investing in.
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