Wear Solids – Wear some solid coloured clothing so that your faces are more visible and no one person stands out. If you wear stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group. This tip is useful if you’re the bride, you’ll wear something different than your bridesmaids and you’ll stand out.
Muted Tone – Choose muted tones that are a little bit subdued so that you are the main subject and not your clothes and you don’t stand out from the group. Usually Bright colours project (especially reds, oranges, and yellows), which also makes you look larger.
Top & Bottom – Choose similar kind of tones for your top & bottom (both dark or both light) so that one doesn’t look bigger than the other. White top, dark pants will make your top look bigger. For example, White pants, dark top will make your butt look bigger.
Colours – Choose atleast 1-3 colours for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and convince everyone to work within that colour palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones. OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones. So that we see the people first and your portrait looks stunning. Wedding group photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colours and the people stand out! You see what I mean now?? Good colour choices would be neutral and earth tones like green, brown tones, black, darker blue, and black/grey. Those colours go well with light/dark coloured jeans or pants. Darker coloured shoes are also usually better under these combinations of colours. Darker colours are slimming but if you prefer white (or lighter coloured) tops; then combine it with darker pants or dark blue jeans for contrast. However, make sure that your skin tone wears white well, or your face will seem washed out in the pictures.
Sleeves – Especially for females, you should wear a top with sleeves at least to the elbow because your arms take up more skin area than your face and will draw attention and it may also make your arms look larger. Believe me honey, there are other thigns which you probably want to look large, and this is so not one of those.
Long Pants? – Choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt (preferably) below the knee for ladies so that your legs don’t take attention from your faces, and you will be able to sit and bend without showing too much leg. (talk to me, it also depends on the location and other factors).
Footwear – Choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach) because white just sticks out like a sore thumb and that’s all you’ll notice in your portrait. If it’s a shoot where more skin needs to be shown, you can choose some colourful striped socks as well (for Females). There are some new kind of girly socks on eBay with some toe / finger faces, those could be a great prop.
Jewellery – Keep jewellery simple but elegant. Big size Ruby or Sapphire (even imitation) stone earrings or pendants can do wonders (for females), white shiny diamonds are tricky to be handled in digital photography.
Hairdo – Do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes – no fancy up dos with jeans, no pony tails with evening gowns, etc. This is common sense, or so you’d think, but I’ve had ladies go to the hair salon and get fancy up dos then show up in jeans and a t-shirt. It just simply doesn’t make any sense cause you wouldn’t normally do anything like put on comfy jeans and go to the park for a BBQ or something. It’s important to understand that your portrait will be more timeless and represent more closely who you are, not just what you look like.” If jeans is all you wear, and want still to wear during the shoot, be my guest.
Salon – If getting a haircut or new hairdo, facial, nails make your appointment at least 1-2 weeks prior (for hair do only, rest should be a day before or on the photo shoot) to your portrait session – again this seems like a no brainer but you’d be surprised! Fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need it to grow out just a little. Please allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session.
Whites – White isn’t the only neutral. When you want to go neutral with your outfits remember white isn’t the only neutral. Men wearing a light blue oxford and a woman in a blush dress is still neutral! Other neutral options: black, tan, blush, light blues, nudes, navy, gray. Spice up your neutrals with going with other textures, patterns, & playing around with more than just white.
Same Colour? – It’s so important that people just don’t stick to the traditional thing of all wearing only one colour. Just like your family, what everyone wears should be diverse. Show your personality through your outfits. Let your personality shine..!! These are photos you will have for years so when you look back at them make sure your outfits fit the way your family is & be true to you!
Patterns or Colours – Don’t be afraid of pattern & colour. Make sure to bring in some colour & pattern to your photo shoots to really make your family photos a masterpiece. Always make sure there is a great balance between patterns and solids. For example in a family photo shoot, maybe the daughter is in a floral dress, the dad is in a stripe shirt, & the mom & son are in solids. & don’t be afraid of mixing patterns. When picking colours, never be afraid, but think about what colours go with the feel of your photo shoot. If you are going for a light & airy feel be sure to pick lighter colours. Want that downtown urban feel? Go with deeper more rich colours. Pattern & colour can really add a pop of interest to your family photos & make you stand out against your backdrop. Having said that, for females, dark grey top (tight tees) or grey, blue and maroon checked shirt (with elbow sleeves) on dark blue short jeans (or denim pants) can make you look a real hottie..!!
Go Shopping – DON’T Wear Clothes That Look Old & out dated, shop, shop and shop. You can pick up some good ones from eBay, or can rent those or go to your favourite stores. Sorry guys, I know I just told your gals to go shopping. But honestly, we all want to look and feel our best. You can’t deny how awesome you feel in new clothes. You don’t have to buy a 100% new wardrobe, but an item or two are often appropriate considering you are investing in a photo session.
Layers & Textures – Layers & textures are beautiful and create interest in photos. I absolutely love using multiple textures and layers, especially important when working with a colour palette a bit on the neutral or softer side (with a subtle colour 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 colourful bright or just pops of colour here and there as well … follow your own vision and style, also looking to what fits your subjects best. For example a woollen (knitted) muffler or scarf around the neck can make you look amazingly gorgeous or handsome.
Some Examples – Something that blends with the vibe of the session as well, but keep them simple and meaningful. A handful of flowers that are a natural, neutral colour or that coordinate with colour pops in the subjects’ clothing … a vintage camera, a basket of apples, or the absolute best type of prop is something that is meaningful to the subject (grandpa’s vintage camera, kid’s favourite stuffed animal, a quilt made by great grandma, the family’s beloved pet). But don’t let the prop be an odd distraction – make sure it “makes sense” being in the photo and blends well with the whole vision you had in mind for the shoot. Click here to see some example of the props for the child photography. Click here to see some examples of the props for fashion photography. Click here to see examples of the props for the couple photography, and click here to see some sample props for the family portraits.
Shoes – Shoes matter. Please don’t wear sneakers … unless we’re talking about some funky Converse which is going alright with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colourful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colourful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo – not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match little sister’s bright turquoise shoes to the sweater or scarf her mama is wearing. It ties everything together without looking too match-y match-y. And many times NO shoes looks best, especially if you’ll be sitting or in poses where the bottoms of shoes can be seen – that never looks pretty. And don’t forget some funky socks to add another splash of colour or personality if your overall look of the session is fun and bright.
Think – How will the images be displayed? Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly. For instance, if it’s for Christmas cards you might want to dress in wintry, seasonal clothing … for a gallery canvas in the living room, think about coordinating with the colours and feel of your decor. For the canvases you can hang in girls’ playroom, dress them in twirly, pink dresses and they can run dancing through the sand on the beach, which meshed perfectly in the girly room that’s always filled with giggles and play.
Intimate Pictures? – There are plenty of options for the lingerie, or some accessories specific to this subject, explore those options, because when it comes to the artistic nudes, you don’t have very limited options to play around with the regular clothes. Nice pair of shoes, girls socks can do wonders too, some interesting piece of jewellery or some artificial but gorgeous looking flowers looks awesome as well.
Listen, Think, and Just do it..!! – Yeah.. Just be yourself, carry yourself gracefully, and think what suits you the best.
RISKY IS NOT WRONG – Don’t be afraid to be a little risky! A lot of times we become too comfortable and forget to try to stand out in the crowd. However, every time you take that risk, people seem to notice you and throw compliments your way. Let me be the first to tell you, the camera loves a little risk in style! I’m not saying you need to go overboard with change in style, but just don’t settle because it’s easier. Make sure you like the way you look in it. Maybe take a photo of yourself, and see what you think. Sometimes when I take a photo of myself because I am thinking I am having a great hair day and then I look at the photo, I think there must be something wrong with my mirror!
DON’T FORGET TO ACCESSORIZE – Ladies don’t be afraid to accessorize, the more interesting looking you are, the more interesting looking your photos will be. The camera loves the added touch a fun scarf can bring to a photograph. Guys, don’t be afraid to accessorize as well. A cool hat can help make a photo much more interesting. Click here to read more on my blog for props.
BE AWARE OF YOUR SURROUNDINGS – If the shoot is going to be in a park setting and there is a lot of green, choose colours that will go nicely with green, to help make your photos come alive!
SEARCH FOR INSPIRATION – The internet is a powerful tool! Don’t be afraid to do a Google search for some inspirations, if you find a family where you really like their photos, take note of what they are wearing because that is probably the key element to their photo. Pintrest is also a wonderful website to get colour combination ideas, a lot of times they will have outfit pairings right on their homepage.