I get asked this question so often, probably more often than any other thing about a session. What should we wear? Good question! I have to say firstly, that I am FAR more concerned about who you are and the connections that you have with your family, than the most minute detail of what you are wearing. I will take a happy kid in a dirty shirt over a grumpy kid whose stressed out mama changed his shirt three times before they arrived ANY DAY!
Awkwardfamilyphotos.com is a prime example of the matchy-matchy look of years gone by. The whole family wearing denim shirts and identical cowboy hats is definitely not the goal. Let's forget about combing every boy's hair the same way and putting them in the same shirt and tie.
Style: I bet you have one. You may think you don't...but you do. Me, I am a jeans and t-shirt kind of mama right now but look beyond the clothes you wear to what your home looks like. Do you go for a modern look or timeless and classic? Do you love bright hues or clean neutrals? Are you comfy or do you like to decorate in a minimalistic way? Me...I may wear jeans and t-shirts but my home is all in light browns, blues, creams, and whites. When you consider that you will want to hang up your portraits in your home (I hope!), choose clothes that will fit in when hung up.
So recently, when I took some shots of my kids I dressed them in those colors. This photo will look great with my home decor.
There's really not a "right" and a "wrong" way to dress for photos but here are a few things to think about and a few ways you can go.
Colors. I prefer not to go all white as the whites can look terribly bright in black and whites and can easily lose details. One or two white shirts can work but try to mix it up. If everyone goes black, it can leave you looking pretty washed out and in a dark background, can look like floating heads! Again, one or two in black can work, just make it a variety. Medium tones work well: blues, greens, reds, oranges, browns.
Textures. It adds a lot of visual interest to have different textures in fabrics. Knits, denim, corduroy, etc. all look so different and are timeless. Homemade sweaters or crocheted hats for littles can be fun.
Patterns and trendy outfits. Bright happy colors for kids, striped tights, fun accessories can look great. Just make sure you don't have really bold, conflicting patterns.
Logos and characters. I do advise staying away from these if possible. Do you want "Old Navy" written across every family portrait? Logos can really date an image.
Comfort and looking good. I promise you, I will make you move around. Wearing clothes that are comfortable and that you feel good in are important. Wear a style that flatters you.
Mix it up! Think co-ordinate and not necessarily matching. For a family or group, I often say to choose about 3-4 colors and then have everyone dress within those colors in clothes, textures and styles that fit their personalities and "work together". I'll give you lots of examples in just a bit.
Clothing change. If you want to change outfits quickly in the middle of a session, great! Just make sure it doesn't become a stressful event. Mini sessions would not work for this for time reasons, obviously :) .
Layer for the season and weather. Dress for the weather. Little freezing cold kids in t-shirts when they need a jacket will never engage and look good in photos. When thinking fall and winter : layer, layer, layer.
If you need inspiration. If you want lots of ideas, go through my galleries on my website and see what appeals to you.
Here's a few examples from recent months.
My sister and my niece. Quinn is in a bright dress and Kelly doesn't match but her neutral brown goes right along with it. (Kelly often gives me her donations...you may see me in that dress one day!)
Love how they used a pop of bright color for the baby!
Same "feel" to these dresses but different colors and styles. Rather whimsical.
Same color families with a bright red dress for the baby girl.
Different textures and colors but it all works really well.
You can see how the clothes they wear fit very well with the style of their home. Clean, classic.
They don't match but their colors go really well. These are styles that look great on them. Misty's due date is today. Come on, baby girl!!
Meg used the same colors with her and her little girl but very much a little girl style for Kylie and a great outfit that flattered her and emphasized that wonderful tummy.
The cousins at a big family shoot. They all went with blues, whites, purples, blacks. Even a little pattern is not overwhelming and looks great. Unified but not cookie cutter.
Fun, bright fall colors. I loved how the blanket she chose had a fall feel too!
Here's the siblings I did yesterday. No color co-ordinating but they all look fabulous together because they wear their own styles so well. Nice!
I was chatting with my dear friend, Alison, who I will be photographing in Texas in a couple weeks. She was feeling a bit overwhelmed with getting outfits together for them and asking a few questions. I told her maybe we should just both wear the bridesmaid dresses we wore at each other's weddings. She agreed that would be awesome. (I betcha they'll be one of the coolest dressed families of the year :) ).
So have fun thinking about clothes but in the end your pictures are way more about you than what you are wearing.