One of the questions I am asked most frequently by my clients is “What should we wear?” And it’s no wonder! Your photos are an investment that you have most likely spent some time and money on, and besides adorning the walls of your home and probably your Holiday cards, they will be passed down for generations to come. It is understandable that you want to look your best.
I have compiled a few tips here that I am hoping will help you feel less overwhelmed when it comes time to pick out your wardrobe for your next photo session. Keep in mind that these are all just ideas. You certainly do not have to implement ALL of them… or ANY of them for that matter. The most important thing is that your photos are a reflection of YOU. But if you’re feeling stuck, or just need some inspiration, here are a few tips to guide you.
A FEW RECOMMENDATIONS & TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED
I often encourage mom to decide on her outfit first, and then build out the rest of the family’s clothing from there. Find something to wear that makes you feel beautiful. If you feel good in what you are wearing, it will transfer to your photos. Being comfortable and confident will make a huge difference in how you feel and how relaxed you are in front of the camera.
Don’t be afraid to dress it up. Dresses are the most flattering for women, and photograph beautifully. Long dresses with movement add an extra touch of grace and elegance to your photos. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle for an extra romantic and classy feel.
If you choose to wear jeans or pants I just recommend getting a fit that you really love and feel great in. If you choose to wear something more casual on the bottom, then think about dressing it up on top. A beautiful flowy top or lace accent can make your outfit feel special for this occasion.
Adding in a statement accessory or two is a great way to finish the look, and these photograph beautifully. If you’re looking for a way to tie in your color palette or to give a finishing touch to your outfit, statement accessories are always a win!
Flattering Your Features
In my experience, every woman, regardless of her shape has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on arms on camera, so I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is a set of slimmer-looking arms.
Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
Make a Statement
Pairing an accessory or two with your outfit can really help bring some extra dimension to your images and be a nice tie-in when you’re coordinating with a group. Statement pieces bring a lot of pop to the photos, while the smaller, delicate pieces of jewelry are not as noticeable on camera but can still add a little dimension when chosen carefully. The name of the game here is to complement, not overpower.
Belts, bracelets and earrings bring great visual interest, so choose one or two that don’t compete for attention.
Chinos and button-up shirts or Henleys look sharp, masculine and tailored in photos. Keep in mind that fitted slacks, khakis or jeans, as opposed to cargo styles and baggy jeans, look the most put together and photograph the best.
Mix it Up
Many guys love to mix a suit coat, blazer or sport coat with a different pant color. It adds some extra visual interest, and breaks up the color tones. I am a big fan of this fresh take on a timeless classic.
FOR THE KIDS
For the girls, dresses and skirts are always a go-to. Especially for those fun twirling pictures! And boys look fantastic in slacks, button-ups or Henleys just like Dad. Little touches like hair accessories, bow ties and suspenders can add the perfect finishing touch to your photos.
I always recommend trying the kiddo’s clothing on ahead of the session to make sure that it fits and they are comfortable in it. This can save a lot of headaches on picture day!
There is an old-fashioned idea floating around that everyone in the picture needs to match. This is not true! Choose colors that look nice together, but don't fall into the trap that you all need to be wearing the exact same outfit or color. Avoid thinking about “matching” and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.
Selecting & Mixing Colors
I recommend choosing softer, lighter tones and avoiding those ultra-bright, bold colors. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too.
That softer color palette fits beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be paired in so many different ways.
I recommend having at least three core colors in your palette. After you’ve selected your own outfit, take a look at the accent colors in it, and use those to tie in the outfits of everyone else. Keep it interesting by keeping each person’s primary color different. For example, if you are wearing a cream dress with blush accents/accessories and brown leather shoes (with your primary color being cream), your husband could wear navy slacks with a simple cream or blue shirt and tan blazer (his primary color being tan); one child could wear a blush dress with cream accents, and another could wear khaki slacks with a cream shirt and a navy vest.
FINISHING THE LOOK
When you’ve settled on the outfits for each person, you can start thinking about how to finish the look. Keep in mind that layers and accessories can really help bring some extra dimension to your images will always give you the most complete look. They’re also a nice tie when you’re coordinating with a group. For the girls, consider adding a statement necklace, scarf, or hair pieces or headbands. For the boys, consider accessories such as a vest, belt, jacket, hat, suspenders, ties or bow ties. These are simple, but perfect ways to give a perfect finishing touch to your photos.
Mixing Up the Pieces
If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bow tie, while the other one wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring a great visual interest to the photos.
PREPPING THE LITTLE ONES
Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water and any small objects (like toys or lollipops) that might help us get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior.
A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat after the session if they’re good listeners, like an ice cream cone, for example. It also helps if they’re bellies are full and they’ve has some good rest beforehand. Once you prepare them physically and mentally, then feel free to give them (and you!) grace! They’re little, and I know that some days don’t always go as planned. I’ve seen it all and will make sure to get you great photos, regardless of their moods. Our goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family.
I will ask you and your little ones to just be you at times. You might tickle, tease, or just be silly. I love grabbing these natural, organic moments. Don’t feel funny if you do not get direction at all times. Enjoy the moment and please don’t worry about a thing.
I know I’ve given you a lot to think about. Remember, in spite of everything else, the most important thing for you to remember is to just enjoy your family. Let this be a time that you have fun with each other, tell silly stories, and laugh a lot. At the end of the day, it won’t matter nearly as much if you were having a bad hair day, if the location was perfect or not, or if your kids weren’t listening to your every word. You will look back on these pictures and remember these fleeting moments, and how quickly they went. I’m so honored to document this precious time for you.