“What should we wear?”
It’s my most-asked question from my family photography clients. And with good reason – everyone wants to look as great as possible, while still feeling comfortable and true to themselves for their session. I admit, before my own family session this spring, I spent a lot of time thinking about what all of us should wear (and what my kids would agree to wear!).
With that in mind, here is the style advice I give to my clients before our shoots:
Try to coordinate rather than match. Start with a colour palette or a pattern (or both!). Maybe it’s blues, greys and whites. Maybe mom has a colourful pattern in her dress and the rest of the family draws from it. Imagine that you’re all going out for a meal after the shoot – are you too matchy-matchy to be seen in public? The family above did such a nice job “coordinating” their clothing, while not shying away from patterns (some polka-dots, some pattern and it all works really well together). The family below did an awesome job coordinating all EIGHTEEN relatives for their session.
Dress for the same event. Do you want to dress-up or stay casual? Either way works well, just try to be consistent. If one family member is obviously more or less “fancy” than the others, it can really stick out. Imagine you’re heading out to an event – is EVERYONE dressed for a party OR a day at the park – doesn’t matter which one, as long as it doesn’t look like one member of your family didn’t get the memo.
Dress for the same season. Similar to above. If you want to look summery – put everyone in pastels. Want to create a cozy fall vibe? Stick to jeans and sweaters. I feel like this is something to especially think about during fall or spring when the leaves may change before it’s actually cold, or the blossoms may bloom when it’s still freezing. I LOVE how well the family below styled themselves for their fall shoot – the tones and the layers are perfect for the season and the golden leaves in the background.
Dress for the location. Think about where your session will take place. Does your wardrobe suit the location? Take the two sisters below. I shot them for the first time in late fall in the alley behind their house near Trinity-Bellwoods Park. The second shoot took place at their family farm in Caledon. Their clothing choices were so different from shoot to shoot and perfectly matched their setting (imagine switching their clothing from location to location – wouldn’t work, right?). PS: Before you go into a panic attack that you will never look this stylish for your session, know this: 1) their mom is a decorator. 2) these girls are way cooler than all of us.
Avoid logos or big fonts. If there is text to read in an image, it’s impossible not to read it. Take a look at the image below of my son. I love it except for the writing on his shirt. Every time I look at it, I can’t stop reading “Central 8” and it annoys me to no end.
Dress them in their favourites. If your kid has a piece of clothing or accessory that they won’t take off – encourage them to wear it to at least part of the shoot (this is a really easy sell because they’re probably already wearing it and have been for 3 days straight). In a few years, your photos will have extra special meaning because you’ll remember that item as part of who your child was at that time. My son went through a faze a few years ago when he would ONLY wear purple. It’s over now – and every time I see a photo of him from the purple-period, I can’t help but smile.
Pick clothes that move. This is a bonus, but clothes that move are extra fun. I love a swingy dress on a fall day.
In short, you don’t have to be super-stylish or go on a major shopping spree to rock your family session. Shop your closet first, try to convince everyone to mildly look like they belong together and give me a call. Or better yet, Facetime me from your closet!
PS: Want to see how I styled/negotiated with my family for our session? Please forgive the crocs. I may try to photoshop them out.
Photo credit to the lovely and patient Amrita Singh.