I often hear from my girlfriends about the stress that goes into planning their family portraits. Stress over what to wear and where to have the photo session and everything in between. Let’s talk about the best ways to be prepared for your family session and alleviate some of that stress for you! First of all, especially if you have small children: have some water and some easy to eat snacks (goldfish, pretzels, and other non-messy treats work great!) – if your brood starts off the session with happy tummies, it will go much better (just like the rest of life!), but these snacks can also be used for bribery where needed 😉 Your photographer should have plenty of suggestions for locations if you want your session to be outside, but you can also suggest some places – and if you have a location that’s special to your family, that’s often a great place for these! If your location is an outdoor area that would be a fun place to spend time at after your session, don’t forget a change of clothes and shoes for everyone.
The biggest challenge for most people I talk to is deciding on their wardrobe – especially the larger their family is! Here’s my best advice for you: start with mom’s outfit – she’s usually the one that is the hardest to figure out. Be sure she’s comfortable and feels good in what she’s wearing (this is good advice for everyone – if you’re not comfortable, it shows in the images!). Aim for as many solid colored pieces as possible (the selection of colors varies depending on the time of year you’re having your images taken. With fall right around the corner, be thinking about colors like mustard, maroon, navy, rust, etc. And consider bringing a quilt along to sit on too) and think in layering pieces – adding a sweater or a scarf can take an outfit from simple to stunning. Once you have mom’s (or whichever outfit you’ve started with) picked out, find an appropriate color palette – Design Seeds is a great website to use for this – and coordinate the rest of the clothing with those colors as a guide. As you’re choosing outfits, imagine that all of the pieces are going on the same person – in other words, coordinate well, but don’t make everything the same! I know in the past a popular choice for families was to wear a white shirt and jeans – look at one of those images next to a family session where everyone has variety and you notice just how boring it is – even with a great photographer! If you want to add some pattern in, that’s fine, just don’t overdo it; and make sure they coordinate! In the same vein, accent colors work great – if everyone is wearing mostly muted colors like browns and greys, throw in another coordinating color, like mustard, where you can (scarves, tights on little girls, hair bows, jewelry, etc). Be sure to think beyond shirts as well – it looks best if you have variety on the bottom halves of everyone – skirts, jeans, khakis, etc. And don’t forget about shoes! Knee high boots, moccasins, etc, but avoid heels if your session is outside – you know how difficult it can be to try to walk in dirt and grass with heels! Yikes! Sneakers are best left for playing afterward – try to find some cute shoes for every family member if you can. Above all, be sure to let your personalities shine through – that is, after all, what we all want to capture in your images!