After booking your portrait session (which many of you have from the Someday Sale - thank you!!), the first thing likely on your mind is "What should we all wear?" Followed by a minor panic and inventory run down of what is owned, what fits and what coordinates. And then likely a trip to the mall. I get it. I have my own portraits done and do this scramble each year too. I thought maybe if I post a few of my faves from past years, you can get some ideas and color palettes.
Things to consider
1. Your family does not need to wear a "uniform." By this I mean exactly the same clothes like khakis and white polo shirts. This is your family portrait! Add some of your family personality to it.
2. Along that same thought, although you don't want to be all matchy-match, you do want to coordinate. Think about balance and kept it to 2-3 colors. Moderation but not plain.
3. Consider where you'll display your portraits and what the colors are in your room. If you have lots of deep rich, warm colors in your living room, stick with deep rich warm colors.
4. Consider the location of your session and what the season is like. The fall can give us many many different looks from brilliant fall leaves to neutral muted colors as the season fades. (as you'll see in the samples below). If you plan to be in front of a maple tree in all it's blazing red glory...maybe skip those pastel sherbets or neon colors of spring and summer as it just won't flow right.
5. Consider the weather - let's be real. It gets cold in Oct. in MN. Heck it's been known to snow! So maybe opt for fun coats, scarves or other warm gear for later season photos. They can add character and personality to your photos.
6. Don't forget about footwear. They often show in family photos so make sure you are ok with what you are wearing.
7. Wear what looks good on you!! By all means wear something you feel good in because if you dress yourself last and only to fit into what everyone else is wearing, you won't like your photo. I'm speaking mainly to the moms who are doing the coordinating. Do not put yourself last in this. In fact start with your outfit first. I promise you'll like the end product so much more.
Let's take a look at some inspiration from families I've had in the past couple of years.
First up... a very All American look in front of their home which happened to match their outfits perfectly. This was also at the end of summer so shorter sleeves worked well. Notice they have a nice balance of solids an only 2 patterns. Patterns are a nice way to break things up and I think often necessary when assembling your ensemble. But two plaids or two polka dots would have been a little much here. Think about dressing your group as you would one person.
Again a late summer/early fall session with lots of sunshine. This family definitely did not go with a matchy-match and even though they are all wearing different things it works very very well. No competing colors - it all just blends nicely. And suits each person.
This family ensemble works well because they used ivory and LIGHT blue shirts, darker denim and only one darker shirt. If they had all been in ivory and navy...totally different look and a bit stark for this warm family. I am not a fan of doing strict black and white shirts --the contrast in tones is distracting to me and harder to photograph. Keeping everyone is similar color values -- darkers, mediums, pastels, lights, whites -- helps and makes your black and white images look better.
And then here's an example where dark and light WORKS! So ignore everything I said above. :) Ha! Really why this works is the girls have a navy and white pattern and it pulls out dad's shirt. Plus they are grouped all together tightly so it's not so much white vs dark competing against each other. Note...I love the pop of color with the pink. It makes this ensemble!
Here is a couple of great uses of classic fall colors. First the browns and greys paired with pumpkin. Wonderful to blend with autumn leaves! (or your golden dog!). And the one below with classic brick and denim. Looks good with fall and marries well with holiday cards too!
These next two are a definite "heart of fall" sessions with pretty grasses and leaves. First family did a nice job using neutrals with a pop of color and not over doing it. And they were aware of the location so they are not competing with their surroundings.
I love the use of a grey with purple here because it's not expected in a fall or holiday card photo and it works so great with the colors of their surroundings. Plus it's good to note that these colors compliment the subjects really well. Their coloring lend them to look good in cool colors. Good thing to keep in mind! Wear what looks good on you!
Ok this session was not technically a fall family session - it was shot in March and there's a whole story to how we waited and waited for the right snow to fall that year! But I include it because it's a great example of how to do a session in the heart of winter. And great use of neutrals with pops of color.
And another snow photo. I love this very traditional look for a holiday card. And for this family, they moved here from a not so snowy place so it was very fitting way to celebrate their first MN winter! Can I point out that this wouldn't have worked so well if both the kids were in red? And that dad has a bit of red to his scarf - perfect. IF this were a family of 5 or 6, then I'd add in another splash of red to someone -- red sweater for example. Reds are tough to match though so be careful of this.
If being outside in the cold ain't your thing...there is the studio to work with. Here's a few samples of studio shots where really we can tailor the background to your outfits. This sibling shot is a nice mix of red/white/blue but in a less summery sort of way. Super cute!
I mentioned in the tips to start with that having matching outfits doesn't work. Unless you are sweet sisters like this. Identical outfits works great for 2-3 siblings as long as they are 12 or under. These girls rocked this look! Formal, stunning, classically Christmas colors!
Full disclosure...these are my parents with all their grandkids. If someone had been filming while I was shooting it had to look insane. But I show it because it was a challenge to dress multiple age groups of children -- newborn to middle school. My sisters can take the credit for the coordinating on this one and we opted for a few coordinated pieces from Children's Place (many of the specialty children's apparel shops do a fantastic job of coordinating outfits! Start there for inspiration). And for the older kids and adults, we built from the colors in the red plaid. Black, grey, red -- always looks crisp and sharp. My mom was so grateful for this portrait. Now she wants a new one since this is two years old! I'm putting her off. ;)
And finally, if you simply cannot decide and can't stand the thought of coordinating outfits...why not stay in your pajamas! ;)
The point is to showcase who you are as a family and your clothing, setting, style should reflect that. I'm happy to consult on your session! Send me photos ahead of time and I'll tell you what will work.
Here's to happy fall!
(If you are wanting to book a fall family session, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll let you know what's still available for dates.)