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Preparing and dressing for your family portraits

Frequently I’m asked by my awesome clients “what should we wear for our family portrait?” or “how should we prepare?”.  I’m always excited to know my clients want their portraits to be awesome, just like I do!  Preparing and dressing for your family portraits is pretty simple.  When it comes to deciding what to wear, the goal is to make the “people” stand out in the portrait, not the “clothing”.  So here are some tips, color combinations (for group photos) and suggestions for preparing and dressing for your portraits to help make your portraits rock!

General Tips:

  • Textures and layers always look nice and add depth and detail to the photo.  Knits, scarves and sweaters for the fall and winter portraits are great on camera!
  • Solids colors are best.  Busy, loud patterns or logos will draw too much attention in your photos, so solids are always a safe bet!
  • Avoid clothes with fine, repetitive lines typically found on men’s dress shirts or suits.  These detailed lines can be difficult for the camera to register and may appear as wavy lines instead.  No bueno!
  • Avoid wearing loud or fluorescent colors since it can be distracting when looking at a photos and the colors can reflect on your face.  So, unless you want to be bright orange, it’s best to stay away from fluorescents.
  • IRON your wardrobe!  I can’t stress this enough.  Every detail will show up in your portraits, so be sure to iron out any wrinkles, remove lint and loose threads.
  • Don’t over-do accessories.  No watches or bulky jewelry please.
  • If you wear eye glasses all the time, feel free to bring them, but if you can do without your glasses or have contact lenses, this is a better option.  Eyeglasses can cause a reflection of light or objects.
  • Make hair appointments at least 2 weeks prior if possible so new cuts or styles relax a bit.

For groups:

  • Everyone should dress in a similar-style, for example:  All casual or all formal.  Even the shoe styles should be consistent.  In other words, don’t have some family members with closed-toed shoes and others with flip-flops in the same photo.
  • Shirts and dress colors should be within the same color palette or be complimentary colors, rather than everyone in identical colors. Identical colors tend to look too “matchy”.
  • Pants and skirts can be similar or identical in color, for example:  light denim, dark denim, tan khakis.
  • Women’s clothing is more colorful than men’s clothing.  I always tell Moms to start with picking a color they like best for the girls, then put the guys in a more neutral color.  Super cute when Moms and daughters throw a splash of similar color with an accessory like a matching scarf or headband.  Here are some great combinations!

What to wear

Ladies:

  • Hide those bra straps!  Wear a bra and underwear that hides well under your outfit.
  • Consider wearing dresses or tops that cover your arms partially or fully if you are concerned about how your upper arms look.  Bare arms tend to stand-out in a photo and can expose more skin than your face, thus drawing attention to your arms, not your beautiful face!
  • Lips – any shiny lip gloss in a color like berries or browns are great.   Avoid frosts or glitters that will reflect light.  Avoid dark colors.  Bring your lip gloss along for refreshing!
  • Face – a light application of non-SPF foundation helps smooth out the skin and cover any blemishes.  The goal is for a matte finish, not a glow so avoid foundations with bronzer or shimmer or mineral makeup.  Note:  The reason to avoid foundations with SPF or shimmer is because it reflects light and will effect the exposure of the photo.  If you can’t find a non-SPF foundation, then just go for the lowest SPF amount offered.  Finally, brush a light translucent powder all over to cut down on shine.
  • Cheeks – light blush to add some color.  Avoid bronzers or glittery blushes.
  • Eyes – brown eyeliner and a little waterproof mascara to bring out the lashes is fine.  A soft brown always looks nice and compliments most eye colors.  Avoid eye shadows with shimmer or glitter.
  • Eyebrows – be sure to trim, pluck if needed.  The camera and lenses are very powerful, so even a rogue hair will show!  If waxing, be sure to do it a week prior to avoid having redness.
  • Hairspray! – I can’t say enough about spritzing your hair with some spray, especially long hair!  Most of my photo sessions are in the late afternoon to catch a gorgeous golden halo-light, but it also can highlight the flyaway hairs, so please spray your locks if you can.
  • Manicure/Pedicure – It’s amazing the detail the camera can capture, so be sure to get a fresh manicure and coat of nail polish and pedicure (if you’ll be wearing open toed shoes).  Avoid really bright fluorescent nail color if possible.

Men:

  • Be clean-shaven or beards and mustaches trimmed.   For clean-shaven guys, you may think a little stubble won’t be seen on camera, but it totally shows in close-ups, so spend the extra time to shave and put on your “handsome”!
  • Socks and Feet show!  If you’re thinking your socks and/or shoes don’t matter because they won’t be in the photo…..think again!  Many times I will pose you in a seated or crouching position which will definitely show shoes and socks.  Please wear socks and shoes that match the color of your clothes and your clothing style, i.e. casual, formal.  No brown socks with black pants!  If you’re at the beach, flip-flops or bare feet are fine!

Kids (Moms please help!):

  • Wipe away crusty noses and eyes, fresh-scrub teeth.
  • Kids lips get chapped! Bring Chapstick to give a softer look.
  • If your child is still in diapers or pull-ups, hide them well under bloomers, shorts or pants.
  • If your child is still of napping age, make sure they nap before the shoot.
  • Be sure to give a potty-break prior to the session.
  • It is perfectly okay to bring bribes to a photo. Some cereal, smarties or other candy that won’t stain teeth can help a short photo shoot go smoothly.
  • Avoid colorful drinks or lollypops within hours of your shoot, don’t let them eat or drink anything that will stain their face, teeth or mouths.

See what

FAMILIES

have worn to their photo sessions! 

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