Thursday, October 29, 2015

What in the world should I wear for family pictures???

I would have to say that the most common question I get after booking a session is:

"Do you have any suggestions or tips on what to wear?"

I always feel like that really is a complicated question, but I try to answer it the best I can.  I know that this is in the top 3 most stressful parts of taking family pictures for most people (along with worrying about how your kids will behave and stressing if there will be a shot you like in the bunch).  After thinking about it for a little bit, I decided to write a blog post to go into a little more detail, and include with it some picture examples so you can visualize.

*I do feel like I need to say that I am not a fashion/color expert.  I am just a photographer who loves color & patterns that has found through the years what photographs best, in my opinion.  Also, these are in no way any sort of set in stone "rules," because honestly it brings me joy when I see families breaking the "rules" and just being themselves!*

1) Be you.  Don't try to hard to be the "perfect Pinterest fashion family" if that is not you.  If that IS you, then fashion yourselves out... but also, if that IS you, you probably aren't needing my help.  If being you means dressing up in incredibly fancy clothes and heading out into the middle of the desert, then be you.
If being you is jeans and comfy tops, then be you.

2)  Take into account where you are.  If you are going to be somewhere with a busy background, make sure your clothes aren't so busy.  If you will be somewhere with a more simple or mono-tone background, bring on the patterns!

3) Speaking of patterns... There are times when patterns are OK to mix, and honestly there are times when they are not.  Take plaid for instance.  I love plaid.  I have 3 sons... we use plaid a lot.  If the plaids all have the same colors in them, feel free to mix different types of plaids (on different people...not that same person please. ha!) but balance it with solids.  

I am also a big fan of stripes, and they work with almost anything... plaids, polka dots, printed fabric, etc.

If you are wanting to wear a fabric with any sort of print on it (birds, flowers, feathers, etc), depending on the amount of colors in it, I always recommend using it on one person (or maybe a 1:3 ratio, the more people in the picture, the more prints you can add).  You don't want to be overwhelmed when you look at the picture.

4) I, personally, do not like everything to be matchy-matchy (for example: everyone wear blue jeans and a white t-shirt).  Not only does that come across very bland in a photo, but it also doesn't showcase each individual's personality.  One exception to this rule would be when you have three beautiful young daughters.  Sometimes you have to put them all in the same pretty dress because... well.. it's precious!

5) COLOR.  The biggest question everyone has is "how do I pick out my color scheme?"  Here are a couple questions I have for you to think about when picking out your outfits:

a) What is the color scheme in your house?  When you hang prints on the walls, will it bother you if the outfits in the photos do not match your decor?  If you think it would, then I would start looking towards the color schemes of the rooms that you plan on hanging your pictures in.

b) Do you like color or are you more of a neutral kind of family?  If you like color, pick 1-3 colors that you think go well, and then a neutral to tie everything together.  Some neutrals that work great with brighter colors: gray, black, brown, and navy/denim.  

If you are a more neutral person, I encourage you to pick shades of the same color, so that the photo can still be pretty monochromatic without being bland (like grays & black look fantastic together.  As do cream, tan, & brown).  You can even do this with color (as opposed to neutrals) but it will still look more on the neutral side if it's different shades of the same color.

If you are in the middle of the fence, pick a neutral color scheme and then maybe one color to break it up.  It doesn't have to be a lot... a tie on dad, scarf on mom, headband on baby girl, etc.  Just something to add a little POP.

So how do I, personally, pick out outfits for my kids?
Well, honestly, I'm kind of an OCD person that starts looking months before the shoot for something to catch my eye... I love color and patterns, but I want them all the blend together.  Most of the time I will find a shirt I really like for one of my boys that is either plaid or striped, and then take the colors that are in that one shirt and start to put together everyone else's outfits from that inspiration.  That being said, I haven't even thought about what we are wearing for our pictures this year... I should get on that...  but I will show you our family pictures from the last few years so you can kind of see how I, personally, do it.
2011- I found plaid shirts for my 3 boys in similar color schemes... and then kind of went crazy.  I would say this was a "break all the rules" year, but these are also some of my most favorite picture outfits!
 2012- I tried to go with colors that I don't normally gravitate towards (burnt orange, cream, etc) and honestly, although I think they all look great together, these are not my favorite because I don't love the colors.
 2013- I reverted back to my favorite (turquoise) and easy colors like black and gray.  I loved this one because I was able to use different colored pants to add to the color scheme.
 2014- To be honest, I found that adorable wine colored leather jacket for my daughter and had to get it, and based my entire picture scheme off of that.  I then found my youngest son's plaid shirt that had the same wine color and was able to bring in the other colors to go with it.  This is another favorite of mine!  And if you haven't been able to tell by now, I am a BIG fan of mixing plaid and stripes ;)
 The previous 4 photos are courtesy of Elaine Dieball Photography, edited by myself :)

Real quick, before I wrap up, I want to say that you do not have to put a ton of thought for outfits, if you're in a time crunch.  This past summer all of my siblings and their spouses were in town (one set from San Diego and one from Germany) and we decided we should set up a tripod and take some group shots.  We had to work with a group of 14 people, 6 of them having to use what was in their suitcases.  So I said "look for black, grays, blues, and then pops of coral."  We were able to do it, and it looked great!  So honestly, don't stress!

More than anything, I want to end with what I started with... the most important thing is that you be you.  That's the most beautiful part of family photos- capturing who you are... together!

If you found this helpful I would love for you to come follow me on Instagram (ericastephensphoto) and "like" me on FB:


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