Choosing what to wear for your family's photo session can be stressful! But the effort you put into your clothing can make a huge difference in how your pictures turn out. Working closely with your photographer on determining the perfect location, clothing, and accessory combination can take your portraits from mediocre to amazing. Besides, when you are going to keep these images for generations, it is worth putting in a little extra effort! As always, work with your photographer before your session to make sure you have the perfect combination of wardrobe, location, and style to create portraits you will love for decades.
1. Keep it simple.
We always recommend to our clients to begin with a simple wardrobe, and add to it if needed with color or accessories. Start with a neutral color scheme such as cool (gray, black, or navy) or warm (cream, tan, or brown), and then add colors as desired. You may like your portraits being simple and neutral, and that may be perfect for your family. If you like a bit more color, than add one or two colors to your scheme. Still keep with your color harmony, so if you chose cool neutrals, stay with cool colors to add to the mix, and vice versa with warm tones. White and denim are neutrals that can go cool or warm, they are the chameleon of neutrals!
2. Think about the season.
If your portraits are outside, this is especially important. When styling our clients, we try to be cohesive with our location whether it is in nature or an urban location. The colors in nature vary throughout the year, so try to be in color harmony with your setting. If your session is in the spring, South Dakota tends to have bright, vibrant, cool tones in fields and grassy areas. So think green, blue, teal, and brighter colors in general. If fall, the color scheme usually is warmer and richer tones, such as maroon, forest green, and eggplant. And remember, color is accent, always begin with your base neutrals such as black, gray, tan, cream, brown, navy, or denim. Adding one or two accent colors is usually enough.
3. Less contrast is better.
Try to avoid clothing with letters, large patterns, and high contrast color changes. If your clothing is mostly dark, then keep everyone in mostly dark, rich tones. If the scheme is mostly light, then go with light tones or pastels. The intensity of your neutrals will also help decide what the intensity of your accent colors should be.
4. Think about your style.
Is your family playful? Edgy? Classic? Depending on what your style is, and what the decor style is in your home, both play a role in your outfits and color scheme. If your family is more playful, adding small print patterns or color to your wardrobe may be the right touch. If edgy, then a more fashion forward look might be right for you. And classic style usually tends towards a mostly neutral, solid wardrobe.
5. The bigger the group, the less variation.
With larger groups and many faces, your portraits can become busy with so many people to look at. As your group becomes larger, the wardrobe color scheme should become more simple, and more neutral. The group then looks cohesive, and the people are the focus of the image, rather than the clothing stealing the viewer's eye.
Allison Russell is a fine art portrait photographer with a boutique studio based in Mitchell, South Dakota. She specializes in family, children, senior, and sports photography, and has been internationally recognized for her portraits. She lives on a farm south of Mitchell with her husband, three children, two horses, one dog, and her husband's cattle herd.