Expert tips on what to wear for your family photos | ShopAtHome.com

Expert tips on what to wear for your family photos

August 7th, 2013
This family coordinated a blue color theme with a pop of red, to coordinate but not look too matchy. Photo by Nicole Hart Photography.

This family coordinated a blue color theme with a pop of red, to coordinate but not look too matchy. Photo by Nicole Hart Photography.

Here is another example of well coordinated family outfits, using different shades of cool blue. Photos by Nicole Hart Photography.

Here is another example of well coordinated family outfits, using different shades of cool blue. Photos by Nicole Hart Photography.

The subtle touch of yellow accessories is a perfect example of adding a detail that will pop.

The subtle touch of yellow accessories is a perfect example of adding a detail that will pop.

This mom's dress really makes this session pop, and dressing her daughter in a tank top dress and the Dad in long sleeves helps break them up when he's holding her. Photo by Nicole Hart Photography.

This mom’s dress really makes this session pop, and dressing her daughter in a tank top dress and the Dad in long sleeves helps break them up when he’s holding her. Photo by Nicole Hart Photography.

By Aimee Heckel

As if getting the whole family dressed for school and work isn’t challenging enough, then comes the fashion choices that will be forever immortalized in photography.

Getting your family pictures taken is exciting and meaningful; you’ll keep them forever and pass them down for generations. Not to mention blanket Facebook with them. The clothes you wear can be as important as photographer you choose; both truly can make or break the experience.

So, it can feel intimidating to determine what to wear and how to dress your kids (and husband, let’s be honest here).

We wanted an expert opinion on this tricky topic, so we asked one of our favorite photographers who specializes in families and children, Nicole Hart Photography of Portland, Ore.

Should your family members all match each other? How do you deal with patterns? 

I always suggest choosing a color palette and then having everyone in that family wear something from the same color family, without being too matchy-matchy. You want there to be some definition between everyone. Please avoid everyone wearing jeans and black shirts.

Coordinate, but don’t match. It’s best if you can start with one centerpiece. For example, I styled our family session last year around my youngest daughter’s pink cardigan. That central person helps carry the color for the session. It tends to be easier to find that one central piece for the females in the family. I suggest starting with their clothes first and then building around that.

Looking for some cute children’s accessories to make your focal point?
Layers, scarves, boots, bows/headbands for girls all photograph well. Texture is really important in black and white photos.

We love the Gap’s kids line, like this neon yellow girl’s cardigan for $26.95. (But be careful with too-bright of colors.) Don’t forget to save money on Gap clothes with coupons and Cash Back.

How do you pick colors? Are there some colors that are better than others on film?
I think one person in the family needs to wear something bright to help pop the outfits. They can be in a jewel tone or a pink sweater.

Is there anything you recommend not wearing for family portraits?
Watch bright florescent colors, which might be pleasing to the eye but in photographs they tend to look really blown out. If you are shooting in the park, avoid wearing green or yellow and think instead of colors that will pop against the background. Maybe navy or white. If you’re shooting on a college campus with brick buildings, avoid red and instead opt for jewel tones or cooler colors. Avoid anything with logos or graphic T-shirts.

What about trendy verses timeless styles?
I think trendy can work to a point. Scarves and boots photograph well, but they are also pretty trendy right now.

What about picking props, a background and accessories? How do you choose what else to bring to assure good photos?
I like props, but they need to make sense. Having one-year photos taken with balloons or a red wagon works wonderfully. Using a little antique chair for a younger sibling to sit in while the older sibling stands behind adds some interest to a photograph. Using a bright-colored or antique chair for head shots will add some variety, so that the person isn’t standing in every photo.

Make sure the props work with the style of the shoot. For example, if you really like sunflowers, instead of bringing some to the shoot, mention it to your photographer beforehand and see if you can find a sunflower field to shoot in. Embrace the “prop” as the focus of your session.

Any final tips? 
My biggest tip is just to make sure everyone is comfortable, especially down to their tiny feet. Make sure children are in comfortable shoes because often times, your photographer will want to walk around the session to incorporate different looks and backgrounds.

Happy, comfortable (and warm) kiddos are much easier to deal with than grouchy, cold and uncomfortable ones. Also, try and stay true to your style and keep you location in mind.

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About 

Aimee's passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning news articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University. When she's not writing stories for a Colorado newspaper, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees and disadvantaged people in Africa. She's also a mom, a wife and a furious bargain-hunter. Reach out to her at AimeeHeckel.com, find her travel board on Pinterest, follow her on Twitter, or ping her on Google+.

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