One of the most common questions I get asked just before a family shoot is “What should we wear?” It’s such a tough one as it really is such a personal choice, after all you want your photos to last a lifetime as well as also wanting everyone to look like themselves without being uncomfortable. I’ve put together this blog post to try and give a little help and guidance to help you get the best out of your outfit choices for your photo shoot.
1. Start at the end
Ok so this may seem cryptic, but it’s really very simple – how do you want your photos to look when they are up on the wall in your house? Consider your home décor, is it bright and colourful? Or do you use more muted tones? Have a look around your home and find where you would like your new piece of wall art to be displayed. Then have a think about what sort of feel you’d like your outfits to have. This will help you choose your colour palette and whether you’d want cool tones, warm tones, or stick to neutrals.
The most important thing is that you are comfortable (physically and confidently) in clothing that fits you well. Imagine you are going out for a nice leisurely lunch, nothing too formal, shiny or stiff! I adore dresses as they are just so feminine, but it is important you feel able to really get involved, for example by sitting on the floor with the children climbing all over you, without your outfit causing any restrictions or making you feel self-conscious.
If you can, choose outfits that complement each other. I would always suggest considering co-ordinating colours rather than matching (personally I love the white t shirt and jeans look, but it’s not so cool anymore to have everyone wearing the same). Pick a few colours and choose clothes that will fit with this. Try to avoid a lot of red as it can be unflattering on skin tones.
Try to avoid any big logos, writing on tops characters or anything that is going to be distracting and make the photo look busy. Be careful with bold patterns, they can definitely add to the fun, but too many may cause a distraction. After all, we don’t want to detract from what should be the centre of the attention – your faces!
Don’t forget to add a bit of personality with your accessories. It could be a chunky bracelet, a fun scarf, cute coat or even a stylish hat. And if in doubt, remember it doesn’t have to feature in every photo!
6. Plan Ahead
If you plan too early you may find that the little people have grown super fast and so clothes may no longer fit. If you leave it too late you may find that your favourite top is in the wash and won’t dry in time or needs to be dry cleaned etc. I would aim to have your outfits sorted by a week before the shoot day - try everything on and make sure it fits well.
Probably the most under considered item, don’t forget your feet! Remember we may be going for a walk, so the 5 inch stillettos may need to stay in your handbag! Brightly coloured wellies are fun if the weather isn't the best. If you need to wear socks then make sure they aren’t going to stand out and cause a distraction from underneath jeans or trousers. If children (or anyone for that matter!) are going to be wearing new shoes, especially sandals, then make sure they’re either worn in, or have a spare comfy pair to hand. Nothing makes me more grumpy than sore feet.
8. Casual, But Polished
As much as it is important to be super relaxed and comfortable, don't forget the little details that can easily cause distractions. I once took my two lovelies for a shoot in the woods, chose their outfits, made sure they were clean etc. Then as I looked at them through the viewfinder, I realised when my girl rolled her sleeves up, her arms were covered in bright halloween temporary tattoos!! So just a few simple little things that can make all the difference - check for chipped/old nail varnish, loose threads and writing on hands.
Still wanting to read something more prescriptive? Ok, well my own very simplified advice would be that you can’t really go wrong with a collared T shirt with jeans/smart shorts for the guys, and maxi dresses for the girls. You could keep the adults neutral and put the children in brighter colours for an extra pop of colour.
Whatever you decide, I would absolutely recommend bringing a spare change of clothes for children (if they are anything like mine, they are mess magnets).
The most important thing though is that these photos embrace the love and reflect your family, a mix of colours and patterns is always fun!