Every year about this time I’m starting to think about our annual family photo, because pop that baby into a beautiful frame and it’s pretty much the perfect Christmas present for the Grandparents!
And one thing I always think about is… outfits!
Whether you’ve booked a professional family session or you’re going to take your own (and get in the frame!), it needs to be given careful consideration. Clothes can make or break your shots for lots of different reasons. So today I’m sharing our tips for what to wear at your family photo session (and what NOT to wear!) so you and your family can shine!
If there is only one consideration you make with regard to your wardrobe, it has to be inject some colour! Whether your preference is for brights…
…or you’re partial to more muted, earthy tones…
Related: The Ultimate Family Posing Guide
…the subtlety of faded pastels…
…or even a palette of neutral tones. The points is… it’s all colour, and avoid black altogether if you can. When it comes to dynamic looking photos, black won’t do it. And it’s not as flattering in photos as you might think!
Pops of colour really help subjects stand out from the background, and ensures the final images are dynamic and eye catching.
Related: DIY Family Photos
Textured knits, scarves, beanies and colourful woollen tights or leggings in winter make incredible black & white portraits. Also think about buying their jackets in bright solid colours, but avoid neon! Not only is it jarring in photos, but it doesn’t edit or print well.
Everyone loves a beautiful black & white portrait. But not all photos convert well. Why? Because you need a good range of tones and texture to make a deliciously rich black & white image.
In a colour image, even if all the colours are roughly the same tone, it will still work. And when I say tone, I’m referring to highlights and shadows, or how dark or light the colours are. But if you convert an image with very little tonal range to B&W, it usually doesn’t work.
In this image below, the colour is gorgeous, but the tonal range in her clothing is all around a mid-tone.
Related: Black & White Photo Essentials
So when converted to B&W, it’s a little flat (ok it’s a LOT flat).
And even after playing around with contrast and colour channels in this shot, it’s still a little flat and I’ve completely lost that depth it had in the colour version.
So for a good B&W white you need strong variations in tonal range and that means including colours from light to dark. Add a bit of texture as well and you create more interest and depth. In winter, woollen knits are a great way to do this.
In this shot below you can see a good range of tones in his knitted jumper.
Which converts beautifully to B&W and he really pops off the background.
You know those family photos where everyone is cleverly wearing chinos or blue denim and white shirts? It misses out on the opportunity for extra interest by way of contrasting textures, patterns and colours. Try instead to complement without clashing, but there’s no need to match. This shot is a perfect example of a mum who knew exactly what she was doing.
One of the easiest ways to plan a wardrobe is to choose a patterned outfit for one person then pick out colours from that pattern to guide you in dressing the rest of the family.
Just… don’t do it. Unless you want your photos to look like a snapshot that you’ll hate in 6 months. There is nothing more distracting and dating in photos than a giant Peppa Pig or Bluey popping out of the frame at you (much as we all love Peppa and Bluey!). Stick with solids or simple patterns.
Speaking of patterns… they look fantastic in photos. They add interest and if you’re capturing a family together they help add extra colour and contrast without being too busy.
However, you do need to make sure the patterns don’t take over and become a distracting element. The trick is firstly to ensure patterns are classic in design – spots, stripes, simple florals, checks and gingham, and simple subtle patterns. Secondly, that not everyone in the shot is wearing a pattern…balance it with some solid colour.
You know how when you’re wearing something that looks great but feels restrictive, or itchy, or requires you to suck your stomach in the entire time? Well, that shows on your face.
Be kind to yourself. If you’re comfortable, and you feel you look good, you’ll feel confident and that will shine through in your photos. What’s more, kids can move more freely when they’re physically comfortable and have more fun. And the only way to get genuine smiles and laughter is to to have fun!
You don’t need to wear your Sunday best for beautiful family portraits. If your 4 year old insists on wearing a superhero cape or a tutu…let them! Think about this… you want to capture your family, as they are, today. This phase in your child’s life when they won’t leave the house without a superman cape, is beautiful and short lived.
Even though it might feel like a fight at times, when this phase is gone, you’re going to look back and long for those days again. So just do it, because you’ll walk past those portraits in 10 years and stop, and you’ll remember when. The memories will come flooding back, and you’ll laugh… and isn’t that what photos are for?
The other benefit to letting the kids do this, is they really enjoy the session that much more when they’re wearing something they agreed on, and then I can capture their natural happy.
I hope this blog post helped you make some decisions! If you need inspiration, Pinterest is a great place to start!
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