The most common question that I get asked when someone books in their photoshoot with me is: What should I wear? Or, if it is a family group…
If you plan on having a photoshoot then you are most likely going to be putting some effort into clothing choices. Having a photography session is not an every day event and most people want to look as nice as possible. If you are going to be displaying these photos in your home (because that is exactly what they are for) then you really want to be happy with what you chose to wear that day.
Not all of us are fashionistas. Some people find it really easy to choose outfits and enjoy styling themselves for a range of different occasions.
If you are not one of these people then some good advice is simply to keep it classic. Wear something that is “safe” in terms of not being too “out there” and something that you feel comfortable in. Choose something that makes you feel good about yourself.
If you don’t want to play it safe then by all means, go for “out there” looks. Clothing that is on trend or that says something about you as an individual including your own individual style is fantastic and can really lend a unique and individualised look to your photoshoot. But if you are one of these people then you will already know exactly what to wear!
It’s always great to remember that the most important part of a portrait is capturing the essence of you and your loved ones. We don’t want to really notice the clothes first up. What we want to see in a portrait is you and if there is anyone else involved, then we want a sense of your relationship with each other. Great clothes are just there but not so great clothing choices get noticed and can ruin the look and feel.
It’s a Family Affair
For individual shoots just for you, of course you can choose exactly what you want to wear in terms of what best suits you colour wise and style wise. But when a whole family is involved, the colours and styles that make you look and feel amazing may not suit everyone else.
So how do you choose what everyone in the family is going to wear?
It’s lovely to blend in a bit with each other, it really makes for a better portrait. But for many families, blending a look together is easier said than done.
One of the first things to consider is whether or not you want your family portrait to look more formal or more casual. Once you have made that decision then this will be a good guide for everyone to follow as its great to have a consistent look. By this I mean, if all of the men are wearing pants and shirts and then cousin Glen turns up wearing a tank top and boardshorts, he is then going to stick out like a sore thumb and this will detract from the overall look of your portrait.
To match or not to match?
In current photography trends we are not seeing as many instances where people are wearing matching outfits. These days, families prefer to wear complimenting colours or looks. Matching can still look fun if you are into this and if you have a family that will play along.
Usually when everyone is matching, it requires a lot more pre-planning and more than likely, some shopping. If you are able to pull this look off, it can be super fun and make for some lovely fun portraits that really highlight you as a family unit.
It is hard for most families to wear matching outfits these days and wearing complimentary colours works just as well.
Having similar tones or colours that compliment each other will make for a much better family portrait than having colours that clash.
Here are some great colour and styling ideas:
What I love about pastels is that their softs tones really do compliment everyone, from babies through to oldies. Pastels also look great against every skin tone out there. I also love that pastels can be blended in well with white or cream coloured clothing beautifully and can create lovely light and fresh looking portraits.
All pastel tones tend to work well together, too. You could have a family portrait where everyone is in a different pastel tone, like a big pastel rainbow and it would look gorgeous. Or you could choose pink, purple and blue tones as a theme, or stick with just stick with peachy, yellow and creamy pastels.
Some people also describe these as dirty colours. These are colours such as khaki, browns, beiges and grey tones. Choosing these tones for a portrait can be a wise decision if there are a few teenage boys or men involved as these are common colours that most males have in their wardrobe so it shouldn’t be too hard for everyone to find something to wear. Once again, muted tones and browns also look fantastic with whites and creams. These are popular colours that are generally always in fashion therefore your portrait can look quite classic when you choose a muted colour palette.
Tones of Grey
While we are talking about muted tones, a family wearing different shades of grey can work well too. Grey is a neutral colour that compliments other colours. So various members of families can get away with wearing different tones with jeans or pants of different colours and it can work well. Grey tones blend well together and the faces and expressions of the subjects become the most noticeable part of the photograph which is what we want.
This can be a good choice for larger families, as once you start involving more and more people, the chances of everyone having similar colours in their wardrobes becomes less likely. Most people, especially men and boys, have blues in their wardrobes. Once again, blue tones can be coupled nicely with cream or white to break it all up a bit. Light blues and dark blues can all be mixed in together well when there are people wearing shades of white or grey as it breaks it up nicely.
Bright bold colours, or primary colours
Bright bold colours can look great on children in almost any setting. They can work especially well in the outdoors, especially at places such as the beach. However if you plan on dong this as a general theme, everyone must go along with it.
Little girls love dressing up (so do lots of big girls) and it can be fun to put on a gorgeous dress or tutu. I have a range of dresses in my studio in a range of styles. I also have lots of hair accessories and flower crowns which are very popular too. Another lovely option for your photoshoot is to engage with our hair and make-up artist. We work with a couple of talented ladies who will come and give our clients a make-over which adds a special element to the photoshoot. We are also happy to have a wardrobe consultation with you prior to your photoshoot if you want to discuss the look and feel beforehand.
All black or all white
Wearing all black or all white looks great however, once again, everyone needs to be on board. I have had situations where a family agrees to wear all black and then one person will turn up to the photoshoot wearing an alternate colour and it does spoil the overall look of the photos. If you have someone in your family who might go rogue, it might be best to stick to other colour themes such as muted or grey tones that allow for more variation.
If you want something a bit more special or individualised for your kids, feel free to include costumes they love or their favourite toys in their photo shoots. It is lovely to have kids dress up as their favourite character or to bring their most precious belongings because these things are part of who they are and including them will be a lovely memory. It also helps your child really invest in the experience and have fun. Most people bring a few clothing changes to their photoshoot. Having your kids dressed in their Sunday best is wonderfully classic. Photographs of them in their casual clothes or dress ups are also lovely ways of remembering their unique personalities as children.
For men and women with long hair, wearing it down or in a half up / half down style is usually the most flattering.
Personally, I usually focus on the upper body in portraits, therefore too much attention does not need to be paid to footwear. Certainly for large family groups in a more traditional style of portrait, everyone would be wearing shoes that are suitable for their outfit. Bare feet is always an option too.
What not to wear
If you want to have a portrait that you will love, then I usually advise people to stay away from the following:
- Anything with a large logo
- T-shirts or jumpers with busy animation or writing
- Tops with large bold patterns
- Vertical stripes
- Tops that are too tight
- Worn looking clothing with holes / pilling / rips
- Transparent or revealing clothing can be great for individual shots but looks out of place in family portraits