I have been asked many times - what should I wear on a portrait or family photo shoot? I wanted to share my thoughts and those of professional photographers I know who have been asked the same question...
1. MATCHING OUTFITS
The only time I could say I have seen matching outfits look good is with twins (of the same gender) as this can emphasize the fact they may be 'identical' twins and can look great.
Otherwise, Unless your going for a specific theme - Its important to co-ordinate your outfits so you are not wearing the exact same thing.
Give the idea a more modern theme by picking two to three colors that complement each other, or wear different shades of the same color.
Also, try to avoid having just one person wear a completely different color, especially when that color is very bright or in stark contrast to the rest of the family. This draws the attention just to that person instead of unifying the group. Of course this is fine if that’s the idea you’re going for.
2. HOME DECOR
Do you love whitewashed floors and furniture? Do you like bright colors? Neutrals?
Since you will be hanging these photos in your house you want to make sure the colors of your clothes go with the color scheme of your home.
In many homes and it really stands out that there is a defined color theme. If you have a lot of LIGHT COLORS (whites, creams, yellow) then you could either go with your images being in 'black and white' OR with everyone wearing 'vibrant colors' to make it pop off the wall.
For Example: If you have a lot of yellow you might want to wear a shade of yellow and white or similar. everyone wearing shades of green or purple might not look so good on a wall where you have a lot of whites and yellows.
3. YOUR BACKGROUND AND CLOTHING
Check with the photographer - What you wear on the day could make you jump out of the image or get lost in the image. This is an important aspect of the day. Here is why...
A GARDEN - You will have many colors in the background, greens, flowers, browns... color will be everywhere. Wearing super bright colors will mean the images will be so full of different shades and colors that you will become lost. In this environment try to have more neutral colors like browns, greys, creams... This will make you stand out from the bright backgrounds and make you visible.
Try not to wear too much white and black. White on a bright day can be hard to make look like a white shirt and not a reflector. Black in in a darker environment can cause it too lose all texture and look like a black spot without being able to see much of that clothing at all.
A BEACH or STUDIO - A beach can have alot of blues and whites and a photo studio can have similar - depending on the backdrops. Bright vivid colors can make really make the photos pop. Just ensure you don't all match in case that is the look you are going for. Remember!...too much white in bright sunlight is not a good idea.
4. LOOSE CLOTHING
Your photos will be a reminder to your loved ones what you look like. Fitted clothes look much more flattering than loose clothes. Check the fit of jackets or collared shirts, and be sure that the collar won’t obscure your face when you sit down and that the shoulders won’t bunch up or get in the way. Guys wearing baggy clothing can make things like the stomach area look larger than it really is.
5. CLOTHING ACCESSORIES
Accessories can add to your outfit and they can be great to use in photos. Men - wear a tie for the woman to hold. Necklaces for the kids to play with or hats to hide behind.
6. CLOTHING COLLECTIONS
FOR KIDS clothing, head to stores that typically have color/style coordinating collections (pumpkin patch or similar) then purchase clothes for all the children from one store. Clothes will me more likely to coordinate better. Depending on budget even KMART or COTTON ON KIDS can have the same coordinating/styles.
7. LIMIT PATTERNS
A dress or shirt with patterns might look good, but if overdone it can make the photo look too 'busy' and detract from the overall image. If the female is wearing a dress with a PATTERN ok... but - then as the male - don't wear a patterned shirt and tie. Same applies with children - Bright clothing and patterns all over the place can just makes your faces get lost in the image.
In photographs, I like to add textures like scarves or belts to add a little more to the image. Don’t shy away from different 'textures'
8. NO CHARACTERS
You might think BATMAN, SUPERMAN or your favorite FOOTBALL TEAM or BAND shirt will look good. Wrong. Your kids might really want to wear their TOY STORY or FROZEN outfit... but i really discourage this because the first thing your eyes are going to be drawn to is what is written on the shirt... your images want to reflect the happiness and emotions with you and your family.
Don't let your images look more like something you just wore to the picnic in the park. You will be thankful for all the years later when your still looking at your photos on the wall and love the way you looked.
9. EXTRA OUTFITS
Unless your photographer tells you otherwise, it’s wise to bring one or more changes or variations of what you are wearing with you on the day. Most photographers will tell you before you book how many “looks” are included in your price, so follow their advice on what sorts of outfits and how many you’ll need.
Think about the types of poses you may do, and your location – You may not want to sit on the ground in a skirt or walk across the park in heels. Don’t forget to pack accessories like belts, shoes and hats that can turn a casual outfit into something classy.
Children especially can find themselves in a situation where they could get dirty or soil their clothing, especially younger children. Be prepared... and then the photographer can make the day as simple and pain free as he or she possibly can.
10. FINALLY....MAKE IT FUN!
Unless its a formal shoot (that's the look you want and have arranged) then keep it simple and make it fun.
Wearing clothes that make you 'feel good' about yourself is important. You really don't want to be in something that makes (YOU) feel like you look overweight, unattractive, uncomfortable, tight and restricted, or loose and revealing - even inappropriate - with the kind of images you or the photographer might have in mind (for example: a dress being too short when sitting or squatting down with your family in the park)
Some posed shots are good, but more candid shots, on the swing or slide, laughing, having fun are more appealing. Many are not happy about posing - and kids have very limited attention spans. So you can even bring toys, or play a game together that does not involve people (like the photographer) getting hit with balls.
I hope these suggestions help. I personally like having people feel comfortable and this makes it much easier to capture natural images.