What to wear?!? In documentary family photography there is no such thing as a dress code or pressure to be stylish but it is true that a good outfit can take a photograph to all new level.
My clients often ask me what to wear to our sessions and I always answer with a quick few tips so I decided to compile them in a blog post to have them always at hand and to make your life easier.
1. Get comfortable
This is totally up to you, of course, but it’s always better to wear clothes you love and feel good in. Dress everyone in clothes that the are happy to wear so they feel good about having photos taken. Make sure that the children can move freely in their outfits and that they aren’t going to be pulling and scratching their clothes. You want them happy and comfortable, not grouchy and miserable during the shoot! This means letting them have some input in what they wear. Kids who help dress themselves will not only be much happier when shooting time comes, but you’ll let their own beautiful personalities shine through in the images. Also, try not to make kids change outfits more than a couple times. The same goes for you – make sure that you select an outfit that makes you feel stunning and relaxed.
2. Coordinate but don’t match
Long gone are the days of everyone wearing a white shirt and matching. Instead, pick a couple of colors and choose clothes that will fit in this color scheme. What do your dream family photos look like? If they are soft and elegant? Chose neutral colors with soft, flowing fabrics…. think creams, very soft pastels, oatmeals, light browns, tans, grays, and slate blues. Want to showcase the fun and spunky side of your family? Choose coordinating colors (but not matchy, matchy) with bold accent colors, such as hues of gray with yellow or bright red accents. Adding fun accessories like scarves, headbands, hats, etc. can add a modern twist and sassy flair to your images.
3. Plan in advance
You may think certain clothes will fit your kids or that one dress is clean but if you wait until the day of the photoshoot you may run into an issue of clothes not fitting, being dirty or need to be dry cleaned. Have your clothing chosen way in advance and make sure that your outfit choices are comfortable and attractive.
4. No logos
Kids always have that dress or t-shirt they absolutely love and I am happy to capture that but we should find a way to change it so we have more diversity in your pictures and to capture more sides of their personalities. Avoid anything with logos, graphics, characters, labels, etc. These can be distracting (who wants people to first notice the Nike or Gap logo before the adorable little kid’s smile?) and will date a photo quickly.
Scarves, hats, flowers, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, etc. – all these things can make an image more interesting and complete. Don’t let the accessories overwhelm the subject or the photos though. I believe that especially with sweet babies and toddlers that they don’t need much in the way of “accessories.” Little kids are beautiful in their simple purity, and I want them to be the star of the show instead of making one’s eye go straight to a giant headband as big as their head. I want the viewer to notice my subject and their personality first. The accessories and clothing should just complement them – not be center stage. Choose your accent colors and fill in outfits with those punches of color in accessories.
6. Add layers and texture
I absolutely love using multiple textures and layers, especially important when working with a color palette a bit on the neutral or softer side (with a subtle color pop here or there). When I say textures one of the ways to achieve this is with different clothing materials and accents – tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, smocking, ribbons, ruffles, etc. Also, having different layers of clothing and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image. These details and added depth are especially important in black and white images. And it can be done beautifully with colorful brights or just pops of color here and there as well.
7. Patterns are ok in moderation
Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good dose of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the subjects in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complementary.
If you want to give a family documentary session a try, or if you have any questions about these types of sessions, please drop me a note – I’d love to continue the conversation.