How the Heck do I Dress my Family for Photos?!?


March 19, 2013

What you’re going to wear for your photo shoot can be one of the most stressful parts of getting your photos taken. Most moms spend an incredible amount of time thinking, searching, and stressing over a new photography wardrobe for their little ones, and it’s even worse when they themselves will be photographed. I, myself, am no expert on what to wear, but I am an expert in being stressed out about it. It took many, MANY sessions to realize it didn’t have to be as hard as I was making it if I just followed a few simple guidelines.


What I noticed about my photos (when I would spend hours looking for the “perfect” outfit) was that my children looked like I had spent hours getting them ready. They didn’t look like themselves, and they didn’t look comfortable. I wasn’t happy with this, so I decided to go the “white shirt/khaki pants for everyone” route next – so easy right ?!? Yes, it was easy, but my photos had still had no personality; and yet again, I was left disappointed with my pictures.


For example, this is a nice family shot, but would you even look twice? Does it make you say “wow”?


After that, I started looking at pictures I LOVED, and more importantly, at why I loved them. I realized that I loved pictures where the children/adults looked comfortable – like they had been plucked right from their daily routine. I found that I was drawn to pictures where the clothing didn’t match (yes, you read right). Now before I go on, let’s get one thing clear, I believe there is a HUGE difference between matching and coordinating. Outfits should coordinate (colors from similar color families), but not be overly matchy, matchy. Also, I liked when I was drawn to the subject’s faces and not to an object or wording on their clothing. This can be hard for many of us, but trust me, it WILL make for better photos. Let your child’s face be the focal point and not the truck on their shirt.


So how to start? I typically pick one outfit to be the base for the rest of your outfits. Most people will choose the youngest child (but it could be any family member really). Once you know what this outfit will be, begin gathering some pieces for other family members in complimentary solid colors (2 or three colors even) and then mix in patterned pieces in those same colors. Try and put everyone in a different shade or complimentary color. Different textures also make your photos more visually interesting. If your child is old enough, give them a few options and let them pick, it will make them feel good on “picture day”. Finally, take all your choices and lay them on the floor, step back, and take a look. Do they look good, do you say “wow, that family is really put together”?


Here is an example of my last shoot. I chose my daughter’s outfit first and then gave my boys a few options to choose from. I was very happy with the result! This is exactly what my kids look like every day – a perfect memory of them in 2012.


You may notice, in the above photo, that my oldest is sporting a gray hat. He is 9, and VERY into the trends. He begged to wear this hat that is part of his daily wardrobe. I wanted desperately to say “no way”; however, I highly recommend letting your child bring a favorite lovey, costume, hat, necklace, etc… (even if it is just for one or two shots). It makes for a GREAT memory and will be one of your most treasured photos (and possible blackmail material for later – lol!). I know I can’t wait to tell my son he begged to wear that ridiculous hat!


When all else fails, ASK YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER!!! Send her some options and ask her opinion. I have done this on more than one occasion and am always surprised by her “yays and nays”; and more than that, I’m always pleased with how right she is!


The last thing I will leave you with is some of my favorite sites when I am looking for those perfect outfits for the big day…


Crewcuts, a children’s division of J.Crew



Written by Jennifer Shultz


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