FAMILY SESSION STYLE GUIDE
THE QUESTION EVERYONE IS ASKING IS
What should we wear?
NUMBER OF OUTFITS
WONDERING HOW MANY OUTFITS YOU SHOULD PLAN? I’VE GOT YOU COVERED!
Changing outfits during a session always takes more time than you expect, so in order to maximize shooting time and give you the highest number of photos possible, I recommend 1 outfit for your family portrait session.
STYLING TIPS FOR HER
HAVE YOU BEEN EYEING A GORGEOUS DRESS, BUT JUST NEVER HAD AN OCCASION FOR IT?
Mom, you’re probably the one who thought it was a good idea to get photos, so I truly want you to love them.
This is your chance! Remember: there’s no such thing as “too dressed up” when it comes to your portrait session, so don’t be afraid to have some fun! If you have a favorite pair of jeans that make you feel fabulous, that’s okay, too! Whatever works for you!
FLATTERING YOUR BODY
THERE'S NOTHING MORE FLATTERING THAN A LONG, FLOWY DRESS
Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body. I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera, and bring extra movement and dimension to your photos. Maxi (or floor-length) skirts and dresses will give us the best “twirl factor,” adding more movement to your walking photos. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses or midi skirts photograph beautifully as well.
In my experience, every woman (regardless of her size or shape) has an area of her body that she’s self-conscious about. Recognizing the areas you’re self-conscious about when selecting your outfits is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you’ll love the way you look in your photos. Three-quarter-length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer-length sleeve. If your dress has shorter sleeves (or no sleeves) consider bringing a cute jacket, blazer, or cardigan to incorporate into your look. Skinny straps or strapless dresses have the opposite effect on the arms in camera. For most women, skinny straps actually make arms look BIGGER. So I recommend avoiding those whenever possible if your goal is slimmer-looking arms. If it’s colder outside, I suggest bringing a warm coat (the longer, the better!) to wear when we’re not shooting so you don’t freeze in your dress.
Color is great, but I tend to recommend avoiding anything too bright, our eyes are naturally drawn to anything bright in a photo, and we are trying to focus more on capturing your faces than your clothes. With color, I’d recommend more muted tones like olive greens, rust, mustard, dusty pinks, navy, browns, etc, so the brightness of the color doesn’t distract and overwhelm the photo. Neutrals are great but I’d go more for creams, greys, or browns rather than black or white as these can be very bright or very dark in some lighting. I usually try to include at least one warm color (rust, burgundy, mustard, brown, etc) in your group, especially if we are in a predominantly green environment like a park or garden, or at the beach, as there are often lots of blues with the water and sky.
PATTERNS, TEXTURES, AND LOGOS
If one or two people in your family are wearing something patterned this can look great. A floral dress or a subtly patterned shirt can work well, but keep the patterns subtle. Big spots or stripes can be very distracting, as can any big logos, words, or characters. If you’re wanting to keep things simple and most of the family is wearing plain clothes, then I’d suggest keeping it interesting with some textures - linen, denim, or knits all look great.
SHOULD WE ALL WEAR JEANS AND A WHITE SHIRT?
NO. We’ve all moved on from the 90s and we don’t want to be TOO matchy-matchy that it looks like you’re wearing a uniform. I recommend a mix of colors that complement each other. So if you have chosen your outfit and it has rust, sky blue, and cream, then a rust skirt and denim shorts on the kids would tie in really nicely with that. Having a few prominent colors mixed in with some plainer/neutral stuff works well.
FALL AND WINTER SESSIONS
When seasons change and temperatures drop, sometimes it’s just too cold for a dress and heels by themselves (no matter how warm your coverup overcoat is). Here are a few suggestions for late fall and winter that will still help you be fashion-forward and keep your color tones camera friendly.
During fall, warm neutrals like camel, taupe, cream, champagne, and gray are still going to look great. If you’d like to incorporate color, choose jewel-toned versions of bright primary colors. Here are some examples: mustard over yellow, crimson or burgundy over red, camel over orange, sage or emerald over green, and powder blue or navy over blue. These jewel tones will photograph beautifully in any season.
COLD WEATHER TIPS:
Add a peacoat, tights, scarves, and heeled booties to a form-fitting cocktail dress.
Statement coat with a beanie, scarf, and gloves or a warm, oversized, snuggly sweater with tall boots and a hat. The great thing about snow is it creates a beautiful white backdrop, so even though it might seem counterintuitive, soft pastel, muted colors like soft pinks and powder blues still look great! And, remember, regardless of the setting, you can never go wrong with neutrals!
STYLING TIPS FOR HIM
TOPS & BOTTOMS
In the same way that a dress is the most flattering silhouette for the female body, a blazer, sport coat or jacket has the same flattering effect for men. You can’t go wrong with a dress shirt, slacks, and a blazer.
Long sleeves are more flattering than short sleeves on men, so I'd recommend steering clear of t-shirts or polos, and instead opting for a long-sleeve button-down. The other benefit to long sleeves is you can roll the sleeves up for a slightly more casual look, which gives you two looks with one shirt.
A few things I LOVE in photos
For moms and kids with long hair, even if it’s a bit windy, we can get some really beautiful photos with hair blowing in the breeze. Keep a hair tie in your pocket, not on your wrist.
If you have a little dress-loving girl then we can have a lot of fun twirling in the pretty sunset or in their bedroom or back garden.
If your kid has a favorite toy or blanky (even the dirty stinky kind that has been dragged everywhere) more than welcome to include it!
People and their pets have such a special relationship. You are welcome to bring your dog, just let me know so we have a dog-friendly location. Or any weird and wonderful pets are welcome to join in at home!
When selecting an outfit for photos, the most important part is the fit. For men, it’s important to have a jacket that fits snugly (but not too tight), and pants that are the correct length and don’t bunch. Just like high heels make women look taller than they are, bunched-up fabric stacked on top of a man’s shoes makes him look physically shorter than he really is.
For colors, I recommend neutrals and soft. When selecting your pieces, I recommend choosing a different “weight” for the pants and coat. So for example, navy pants (darker) and a heather gray blazer (lighter). Or gray pants (darker) with a soft powder blue shirt (lighter).
Solid colors will help keep the attention where it belongs, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye, so stay away from too strong of prints, avoid logos, and opt for solids instead.
WHAT TO AVOID!
CLEAVAGE & BRA STRAPS
In my sessions, I incorporate movement and I encourage you to play with your kids. I photograph from all angles both outdoors and at home. The less you are worried about the girls popping out, or fixing your straps, the better.
You might feel better with a tan, but more often than not it looks orange in pictures. If there are blotchy parts around your hands/feet/armpits it can be very obvious with my super sharp lenses, and if your whole family is a lovely shade of pale they will do a great job of making you look super unnatural.
Welcome to bring them for a few shots if you like, but generally, they just put your face in a big shadow, which is their job, but not ideal for portraits.
Once we start our session, I just want you to enjoy being with your family, let me worry about the time! I know you might feel a bit naked without your watch, or your kid might not be accurately recording their steps for the day, but my photos often incorporate your hand or arms, especially if you have a baby or little one wanting to be held, and a big apple watch can be very distracting.
GIRLS' UNDIES OR DIAPERS
If you have a toddler or little girl who loves dresses but also loves rolling around with her legs in the air, perhaps consider a cute diaper cover or less obvious undies. Often if they are sitting on your lap or hip, getting tickled or rolling around in the grass they aren’t thinking (nor should they!) about seeing up their dress, and whilst I’ve really seen it all, you may not love those for nannas wall as a Christmas gift.
PHONES AND KEYS
Avoid the bulge! Remove keys, phones, and wallets from your pockets before the session. You are welcome to chuck them in my camera bag.