This is easily the most common question I field from people who’ve just booked their family photo session with me. We all want to look and feel our best, especially in photos we intend to hang on the walls for all to see.
As a family photographer the most important thing from my perspective is for you to look and feel relaxed. I want you to be yourself and to feel beautiful doing so. There’s no need for you to go out and buy something special but here are some tips for ensuring you feel your very best. (If you’re a visual person you might like to skip straight to my What to Wear PINTEREST boards here.)
Start with Mum
9 times out of 10 mum is the most self conscious person on the day. So I advise you to start with yourself, mum, and make sure you feel great before worrying about anyone else.
Loose fitted dresses can be a wonderful way to hide unwanted wobbly bits, but if they’re not your thing put together a top and bottom you feel a million bucks in. I’d recommend you steer clear of short skirts, especially for sessions with young kids. And this is not the time to try to squeeze back into a pair of pre-baby jeans that will give you belly ache every time you have to sit down. You want to feel comfortable being active with your kids.
Dress for the location
If you want natural looking, relaxed images, dress in a way that’s appropriate for your location. I mean unless you’re a Kardashian it’s weird to wear glam heels when you’re lounging on the couch right? If you’re going for a natural looking shoot, wear something suitable for the setting. That includes also thinking about the weather, especially for outdoor shoots. Your strappy summer dress might be your absolute favourite, but if it’s 14 degrees on the beach then blue lips and goose bumps will make a crappy accessory.
Colours, patterns and layers
I strongly recommend that the whole family stick with solid colours or a blend of solids with subtle patterns. Avoid strong graphics and pictures, text or bold patterns like paisley and zig-zags. These not only send the camera into a tailspin (a visual phenomena called moire), but they also draw attention away from the most important thing – your lovely faces.
I happen to love neutrals and I think palettes of white, cream, beige, tan, oatmeal and peach look lovely. But you might think that’s too bland and boring. If you would prefer more colour try to stick with a palette of just 2-3 colours for everyone to work with (maybe with a neutral colour like white or grey thrown in to unify things).
Layers – oooh delicious layers. For in-home sessions layers translate to comfort, cosiness, relaxation and something to snuggle in with your loved ones. Outdoors they can be the best way to avoid an uncomfortable chill and make you look seasonally appropriate. They’re also a handy way to hide any bits you’re not so fond of.
Think about throwing a long-line cardigan or coat-igan (yeah that’s totally a thing now) over a dress or a slip top and skinny pants. Or adding a soft mohair or cashmere knit over the top of a floatier, longer layer. I’m not big on over-coats, puffers or heavy jackets in outdoor shoots, but neither do I like seeing blue skin. So I recommend layers of cardigans and tights with boots for girls, and jumpers, vests and pants for the boys. I also bring a blanket for a little extra cuddling when it gets really bitter.
A side note to parents of girls. If your little girl will be wearing a dress or skirt and you’re conscious about knickers being seen when she runs, jumps or twirls then I recommend you include tights, rompers or shortie-shorts in her outfit.
Co-ordinate, don’t match
Remember that early90s family photo where you all wore matching white t-shirts and jeans? Yeah, that’s over now. Gone are the days of matchy-matchy and mini-me outfits. Instead aim to co-ordinate with a palette that unifies you but with different textures and items that reflect your personal style.
Finally, more important than any of these suggestions is that you just be you. You have all you need right there in your wardrobe. Wear what you feel great in. Wear what you’ll love to walk past every day on the wall.