Ok, so you’ve decided to book a family portrait session. You’ve chosen a date and found a family portrait photographer to hire. Now you have to deal with the daunting task of deciding what to wear for your photo session. Should everyone where the same colors, or do you narrow it down to a few colors and let everyone wear what they have that matches? Should you wear solids or are prints okay? All these are valid questions, so here are a few tips to help you make your decision.
When a client asks me this question I always respond with the question “Why do you want to take family portraits?” Nine times out of ten the clients answer is “So we can document our family for future generations” (or something along those lines). So if a client gives me an answer like this, I remind them that the most important thing is to keep the focus on the family, not the cloths they are wearing.
To Match or Not To Match…That is the Question
My simple answer is….No, you do not want to match for your portrait session. But that statement is quickly followed up with a single concept….coordinate your colors. When you have a group of people all wearing the exact same colors it can make it hard to tell where one person ends and another begins. This can make it seem as though the group is made up of one big body with multiple heads (I call this the Unimoster effect). Choosing a color palette (3 colors, including one neutral color, normally works well) creates variety in the image and helps keep your photos from being boring. Just make sure everyone in the photograph knows the palette beforehand or you can end up with everyone wearing pastels and uncle Jimmy wearing forrest green.
Patterns or Solids?
It’s a fact that solids are less distracting than patterns and help peoples eyes naturally focus on the faces in the final image (since thats what family portraits are all about right?). But it’s not written in stone that you must stay away from patterns or prints. Just remember not to make them too bold.
Location, Location, Location
Something a lot of people neglect to take into consideration is where your photo shoot is going to take place. You need to dress correctly for your surroundings. If your photoshoot is taking place in the woods in October, you may want to stay away from earth tones like browns, oranges, and yellows. Choose a color that is going to cause you to stand out from the background like a shade of blue or even purple. It doesn’t hurt to take a look at a color wheel to help you figure out what colors naturally work well together. If you don’t want to have to take a course in color theory I suggest visiting the Adobe Kuler page and click “Create” to get a digital color wheel that can show you complementary, triad, and compound color combinations.
Lay It Out
Once you think you have it all figured out, find somewhere around your home that gives you enough space to lay everything out so you can back up and look at it. I suggest taking a picture of it (if you use your phone you can take it with you everywhere you go) and looking at it at a later time when you haven’t been stressing over it for hours on end. You can also show others and get outside opinions on your choices. It never hurts to have a different set of eyes take a look at something.
*Most Important Tip Of All*
After all is said and done the most important thing to remember is to choose clothing that you are comfortable in. I can’t stress this enough. If you are not comfortable in what you are wearing, it will show in your photographs.
Their you have it folks. I hope this takes a little stress out of your next portrait clothing decisions. Just remember that what I have mentioned above are more like guidelines to keep in mind and not rules that must be followed. Remember the other side of family portraits is having a way to show the personality of a family as a whole. If you are in need of family portraits, feel free to email us at email@example.com and we will help get you set up for one of our professional photo sessions.