Clothing is a great way to help show your family’s personality and sense of style! But knowing what to wear for your family photos can be difficult. Here are a few tips and tricks I have learned as a Milwaukee family photographer that have helped my clients look their best.
Avoid anything too matchy-matchy, noticeable logos, graphics, neon colors, and bold prints. Don’t plan more than one pattern across multiple family members (ie. Dad wears a plaid shirt, while Mom wears a floral top and kids were striped polos). I also recommend avoiding light-colored or ripped jeans, shorts, t-shirts, and tank-tops as they tend to not photograph as seamlessly.
Start with Mom’s outfit first! A light, flowy dress that is able to catch the breeze can bring extra movement to the photos. Wearing layers and textured clothing such as knits photograph beautifully.
Choosing clothing that fits you correctly is key! Clothing that is too tight is uncomfortable, doesn’t allow you to move, and rides up or bunches during your session. However, outfits that are too baggy won’t let us show off your figure, and make you look wider than you actually are!
Coordinating, simple jewelry, and colors that are muted (think soft pastels if you want that romantic, airy look) or go BOLD and get a bold red or yellow dress for that punch of color against a blue sky. As for your shoes, just keep the location in mind when deciding between heels, wedges, or sandals.
Move on to Dad next! Men look best wearing a complementary solid colored top. Button-down shirts and sweaters are perfect. If you want to buy a new shirt, just make sure that it’s all ironed or steamed to get out all those wrinkles. For pants, go for some chinos/dressy slacks/dark jeans. For shoes, a pair of brown dress shoes (unless the outfit is black).
Children’s outfits are a great way to bring in a pop of color. I recommend choosing at most three family outfit colors. So it’s easiest to pull a color from the outfits you already have picked for you and your spouse. That way your kids will coordinate!
Also, make sure your younger kids are comfortable in their outfits. If you chose something they absolutely hate, this will show in your family pictures.
Most families choose to only have one outfit planned for their family photos. You are more than welcome to plan additional, and I never limit the number of outfits. However, please remember that the more time you spend changing is less time we are able to be shooting.
When planning outfits make sure to consider the location of your engagement portraits. Choosing outfits with colors that clash with those of the existing environment will fail to make a cohesive looking portrait.
Think about the time of year. The light yellow-green of spring, deep greens of summer, and red-oranges of fall make for very different color pallets. Consider the season your family session is taking place when you are picking your outfits.
Plan your outfits down to your shoes, socks, jewelry, and matching belt. Details matter when it comes to family pictures!
In addition, switching out small accessories (i.e. jackets, hats/headbands, etc) is an easy way to add variety to your images within a portrait session.
If you want to wear your glasses in your family portraits, think about popping out your lenses or borrowing empty frames from your optometrist. This is the best way to avoid glare or distortion that eyeglasses can cause in portraits.
Use a matte foundation and concealer. Shiny or shimmery foundations may make your skin look oily, so I recommend you avoid them!
Avoid products with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These cause makeup “flashback” that leaves a white powder residue in images with flash. Google “celebrity flashback photos” to see examples of what can happen, and why to avoid it!
Go natural when it comes to your makeup. While you may need to add a little extra mascara for the camera, don’t go too heavy!
I often recommend wearing your hair down with soft curls, waves, or even straightened as long as it has movement. I want you to be able to shake and flip your hair around!
Hiring a professional hair and makeup artist can help you look naturally glowing and your very best. If you need help finding one, I would be happy to give you a few recommendations.
You’re more than welcome to bring your dogs to your family photo session! I love animals and am happy to have them there. This usually works best if you have an additional person who is able to come along on the session to help your pup during images that don’t involve them. Another way is to arrange a pup pick up time about halfway through the session or pick a location and time of year where your dog will be okay to sit in the car for 20-30 minutes 🙂
Still sure where to start? When in doubt check out my What to Wear Pinterest board for inspiration!
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