Ohhhhh the joys of pictures! Honestly, I love them! That's why I am a photographer. Not only do I love taking pictures, but am also a complete ham in front of the camera. After being a photographer and taking hundreds of family pictures, even I still struggle with picking outfits for my own family.
Last month we had our own family pictures taken and I went through about 3 different outfit variations along the way. I knew I wanted them to be more simple and classic so I decided on pink with white/cream, and have the boys in blue jeans. I had a dress I planned to have my daughter wear and then I bought myself a dress. The colors of our dresses didn't match at all! I was going for a rose pink and hers had a slight orange tint while mine was a little more purple. Not good. I played with the idea of adding in turquoise as well, but with 4 of us I felt it might get overpowering for the clean and classic look I wanted. Still, I came up with new outfits adding in the additional color. I didn't like it. I eventually took the dress back and happened to find a perfect one when I stopped by Down East Basics on a whim (I'd already looked and didn't find anything before)! I was back to my original color scheme of white, pink, and blue jeans. I love how they turned out! I do have certain tips I give to my clients, some of which I didn't follow.... and reaped the consequences. I hope these help you avoid my faux pas, and take some stress off of your shoulders.
1. Choose a Location: You want to be sure you will not blend into the background. Pick outfit colors that will stand out! If you want a location that has a lot of trees and green grass, you don't want to wear green. If you are taking pictures with red brick, you don't want to wear red. White barn? Don't wear white. You are paying to have pictures done and to document your family, you want to be able to see everyone. If you have no clue about what location you want, speak with your photographer, or you can search on Shootipedia.
2. Pick a Color Scheme: The time of matchy-matchy outfits (jeans and white shirts anyone?) has gone the way of the dodo. When you are first picking your outfits, its best to pick 2-3 colors and a neutral. If you have a hard time picking colors that go together, I suggest looking at design-seeds.com and finding a pallet of colors you love and match your outfits to that.
3. Wear Something that you Like: If you are uncomfortable in your clothes it will show through the pictures. This goes for children too. If you force your child to wear something they hate, it is more likely they will be upset and hard to work with. Also, watch out for accessories that they may like to put in their mouths when you're not looking, or will be a distraction. I put a bow-tie on my little man because he always pulls off his ties and puts them in his mouth. I knew that I would end up taking it off before pictures were done and I really wanted him to have a little pink to tie our color scheme together.
4. Pick the Outfit for the Hardest to Dress First: When I started planning my family pictures, I made this mistake. My daughter had tons of cute dresses and I had a couple to pick from and thought it would be easy to find a dress for me. NO! After I scrapped everything twice, I found a dress for myself and suddenly everyone else's outfits slid into place. Pick the person in your family that will be hardest to find an outfit for and start with them.
5. Add a Pattern: Too many patterns get busy, but having one person in a pattern with one or two of your selected colors looks great! Too many solid colors can become boring, especially if you have a lot of people in your pictures.
6. You Don't Have to go Shopping: Many people don't realize that they already have the perfect outfits already. Before you go shopping at the store, go shopping in your closet! Take the color palette you have chosen and go into everyone's closets and pull all of the clothing items that fit your vision. Put together as many outfits as you can (or all of them!) before you go to the store. When I spoke with the mother pictured below, she told me how much she hated shopping and I told her to go shopping in her closet before going to the store. They had a lot more than she thought, and they decided to go with shades of blue for their pictures.
7. Plan for the Weather: I live in Utah so you never know if it is going to be cold, rainy, sunny, bright, snowy, etc. In fact, you could get all of the above during your session! Crazy Utah weather. If it is below freezing, perhaps find some nice sport coats for boys and pea coats for girls. Just because there is snow, it doesn't mean you can't get pictures! Just be sure you know your kids personalities (and husband's...) well enough that you know they will weather the cold and not be grumpy the whole time. If it is going to be rainy, take some umbrellas and use them as props as well as to keep you dry! Regardless, take the temperature into account and wear the appropriate amount of layers, sleeve length, thickness, etc to give you the most comfort during your shoot.
I hope these tips help you to create beautiful family pictures, and take some stress off of your shoulders!
About Kendra: I am a stay-at-home mother of 2 and a huge advocate of sweat pants. Though I adore my two children, I sometimes lock myself in my room with a large glass of chocolate milk and some loud rock music to keep my sanity. I am also the owner of Kendra Leigh Photography and Video which is a boutique photography studio specializing in providing an amazing experience for my clients rather than simply giving a disk or thumb drive.
Feel free to contact me via email with any questions or to set up an appointment at email@example.com.