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What to Wear: Family

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I am so excited for your upcoming family session, as I hope you are too! Often my clients find that once the thrill of booking a session has settled in, they are faced with an overwhelming number of decisions to be made regarding what to wear during the big day. To make this task a little easier, and to make sure that you are completely happy with the way you look on the day, here are some tips that you should keep in mind when planning your family’s looks. it is never too early to start planning, and I hope that this comprehensive guide can help you, and may even serve as an inspiration to do some shopping!


Coordinate your colours, but don’t match them.
Long gone are the days of matchy-matchy outfits. Why dress everyone in blue jeans and white shirts, when your whole family never dresses that way in day-to-day life? Show some personality and style in your photos by picking a few colours that pair well together, and select everyone’s outfits based on that colour scheme. Think navy/beige/gray/white | pink/taupe/cream/olive | coral/white/cream/gray etc. See our Pinterest board for inspiration and colour palette ideas.
Choose pastel, muted, light colours.
Think pretty pastels, soft colours, grays, neutrals and earthy tones. This will make almost any colours work well together in your group and make sure no one is standing out. Strong bright colours will appear neon-like in photos and become a distraction from the face. Avoid dark and black colours, and limit whites.
Solid light colours are best, subtle patterns are okay.
If you wear bold stripes, flowers or contrasting plaids, that piece of clothing will be the number one thing that stands out in your photos (rather than faces) and will quickly become annoying in a collage or an album.
92ca7d235611509c0011520e39c72309___2Add layers and texture.
Texture and layers are your friend as it adds interesting elements and style without the distraction. Think scarves, knits, cardigans, lace, flowy silks and skirts. Be careful however not to add too much bulk to avoid unflattering photos. Layers are also wonderful to change up the look midway through the session, while still being cohesive overall. It’s not just for ladies, either! Other members of your family should also consider going for the layered look. For the man in your life, this website has plenty of information on how to put together the killer outfit, and here are some great examples of layering for kids, too.
Accessories bring your photos to life and help tie the outfit together. Choose classic and somewhat minimalist jewelry. Trendy statement necklaces may draw too much attention from your face and date the photo. Layered bracelets add a nice touch. Men can never go wrong with a great watch. Don’t forget to bring comfortable matching shoes for all outfits. If you choose heels, bring walking shoes along as well. Kids often do well with some props to help them pose – a plush toy to hug or a scarf/skirt to keep their hands busy.
Look to your home decor for colour inspiration.


Not sure which colours to choose? Look around your home and see if you tend to use bright and vivid colours, or more neutral tones to decorate. These photos will become artwork that you will display proudly in your home, and you want them to complement your decor rather than compete with it.



Avoid all white or all dark clothing.
It’s easy for the colours to get blown out when you’re wearing all white, and blacks can lose detail and reflect dark shadows onto your face making you look tired. Try not to have dark colours at least for your tops. Generally speaking, it’s best to stay closer to your skin tone to avoid too much contrast – my goal is to expose correctly for your face, so if your outfit is much darker than your skin, it will be underexposed and resemble a black hole. Similarly, if your skin is dark, wearing white or very light colours will make your outfit completely disappear into a creaseless, blinding white cloud.
When shooting outside in colder weather try to do multiple warm layers instead of typical dark coats, but do bring them along for extra warmth in between photo set ups.
Avoid reds if you have a reddish complexion
Reds are best used in moderation as it can mess with the overall colour temperature of the photos if it’s the main colour used. Also people who tend to have pinkish complexions or get red noses easily in chillier weather, will want to avoid reds close to their face as it will accentuate.
Avoid logos, characters and words.
We want the focus to be on your family’s beautiful faces, not on what’s written on your daughter’s sweater or the minion character on your son’s t-shirt. Large brand labels also date the photos.


More tips:

Natural make-up and usual hair style is best.
Avoid overdoing your make-up and hair and choose your typical styles instead. If you don’t wear much make up usually, try covering any blemishes and blotting away the shine, add some mascara, a lip gloss and you’re done! If you prefer to wear full make-up, here’s a great tutorial on how to get it camera ready.
Men can often benefit from oil blotting sheets in the summer and some chapstick in colder weather. Having wet wipes on hand are great for kids faces and fingers, especially if they are having snacks.
Avoid getting a radically new hair style before the session as ladies need some time to practice working it and warming up to it. Men’s hair looks best a week or two after the trim, just to grow it out a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session for maximum confidence.
Plan ahead.
Start thinking about outfits early. Don’t assume that a dress will fit your daughter, or that you’ll just grab a clean shirt from your son’s closet. You don’t want to find out that her dress is too small or that there’s a stain on his shirt the day before the session. I also recommend having your little ones try on the clothes and spend a few (clean) hours in them a few days before the session. Does that pretty dress have itchy tulle? Are his shoes too tight? Find out ahead of time so that we’re all smiles the day of the session.
Pull it all together.
Take all of the outfits (shirts, pants, dresses, shoes, accessories) and lay them all out on the floor together as individual outfits. Take a photo of them all together on your phone and see how they look next to each other. Are your eyes automatically drawn to the shirt with neon stripes? Does that sparkly skirt seem out of place? Make substitutions so that the wardrobe choices complement each other rather than compete with each other.
Ask for advice!
Send me your photos that you just snapped and ask me what I think! I am more than happy to help you with this so that you look and feel your best the day of the session. You are also encouraged to bring several options with you to the session so that we can make substitutes on the go or change up our look for some of the photos.
Finally, think classic.
These photos will be hanging on your walls for many years. Avoid trendy fashion and stick with the classics while still showing your family’s fun personality. High-low skirts are so last year! Choose longer skirts and sleeves to be comfortable when you pose and help hide any flaws.

This should be plenty to get you started! Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you need any help at all.