I’ve gotten a number of questions regarding family photos recently.
What’s a girl to wear for an outdoor photo shoot?
What looks timeless but modern?
How do you dress if you have young girls in dresses? How do you dress if you have teen boys in jeans?
And on and on it goes.
There’s certainly no one size fits all answer, but we’re going to tackle family photos for today’s Fashion Friday. The key is to first answer a few questions critical to determining how to shop:
1. Do you want it to feel formal (dress up) or casual (dress down)? It likely depends on the occasion, the setting, and your own family style. What will make all of you feel comfortable so everyone is wearing real smiles in the photo?
2. What’s your setting? Indoor or outdoor? Studio or on location? You need to know the where to know the how before styling the family.
3. How many people do you have and what ages? If you’ve got a toddler girl, as precious as an all lace dress may look, she’ll likely throw a fit about how itchy it is and you won’t get a smile. Trust me. Our four year old photographs with the boys in ties and little bit in sequins in the woods was a terrible experience. I feel awful for our photographer because it wasn’t her fault. I’d picked a post nap time photo shoot window, and then threw them in uncomfortable clothes and made them walk down a wooded path. Never again!
4. What’s your photographic style? Do you like to have everyone posed and looking at the camera or do you prefer the photo journalism style where photographers capture the spontaneous moments. Clothes, and how your family moves in them, matters if you’re doing a journalistic style shoot.
Once you’ve got those questions answers, the rest should be fairly straightforward. From a stylist standpoint, I prefer selecting a color palette rather than having everyone in matching colors. But I’ve got friends with gorgeous photos with everyone in white shirts and jeans, so that may be a point of personal preference.
Here are a few of my favorite photos (my girlfriend Kristen has a wonderful eye for styling her family in a flattering color palette) as well as a specific purchase list for my one girlfriend who’s got a super short fuse for an upcoming outdoor shoot. Kristen’s aesthetic is spot on: she consistently sticks with casual, but polished, and goes for bright pops of color in solids that compliment but don’t match – I adore it! (And if someone has a pattern, it’s the littles which is totally adorable, don’t you agree?)
For Christmas, I like my pictures dressy, but for the rest of our outdoor photo shoots we go casual. For Christmas, I’ve done traditional reds, greens, and plaids as well as silvers and blues – both read well when selecting a Christmas card background. For casual family photos (even the informal ones like our 4th of July at the farm), I’m a sucker for BLUES! I think it’s so pretty for outside. In one shoot, I ventured out with yellows and oranges as a lovely compliment to the blues.
For my girlfriend with a super short fuse, and what I am going to guess is tween boys who don’t care a lick about what they wear, I say opt for casual simple blues. You could probably outfit the whole family at J. Crew. She’s got strawberry blonde hair with fair skin, so deep blues or bright blues would bring warmth to her skin. One of her boys has some of that red which will pair well with any of the blue palettes (pale, bright, navy).
For momma, either pair this gorgeous navy polka dotted blouse with this seersucker skirt and cute sandals, or try being the “blue blender” with this simple turquoise and blue button down and casual skinny navy pants or dark wash denim jeans.
For the boys, if they wear plaid, the adults need to wear solids. If the boys wear primarily solids, then the adults can add a pattern. But you don’t want four patterns competing. So either try a great blend of blues (and even a bit of lavender like this button down, then you could do PURPLE and blue which Kristen did beautifully above), or partner a cute graphic tee with an unbuttoned solid blue shirt (or even more fun, gingham!). These would each fit the bill and partner with jeans already in their closet and cool tennis shoes.
I always shop for my husband last because he is the easiest to find clothes for and normally it’s a button down or polo in a complimenting color. If dad is bold, you could opt for a bright pool blue linen shirt untucked with jeans, or if he’s classic opt for a contrasting gray shirt tucked in with a belt (or even something whimsical like this blue with the subtle goldfish would be fun!).
Now it’s your turn – share your favorite family photo over on Facebook and give us all inspiration for our next shoot! What’s your best family photo shoot tip?