My family recently got family portraits taken, and let me tell you- even as a professional photographer, it is an ORDEAL to pick out everyone’s outfits! I couldn’t for the life of me find the sort of dress I was looking for. I was up late the night before repurposing an old bridesmaid dress to achieve the “look” I had in mind. I’m hoping these six tips will help guide and inspire you the next time you’re choosing outfits for photos, and maybe even save you some fuss! 🙂
1. Go formal!
It’s not every day that you and your fiance, spouse, or family get professional photos taken! No one ever regrets looking dressed up for their portrait session, but I have heard of people who regretted getting photos taken in their casual everyday clothes. When you’re choosing outfits for photos, dresses/ skirts are SO flattering on women! A button-down and pants look great for guys, and don’t be afraid to throw on a sport coat over that!
Dress is a repurposed bridesmaids dress (jcrew) with a lace top over it (find similar lace tops here)
Dress from Nordstrom
2. Neutrals are King
I don’t have anything against bold colors, but when it comes to being photographed– wearing neutrals wins for me every single time! They just photograph so beautifully, no matter the lighting, person, etc. If you’re on the fence about what color to opt for, white, grays, cream, dusty blues and greens, pale purples and pinks all look SO beautiful in print!
Dress from lulus.com
3. Balance each other
If one person is wearing a pattern, the other person/people should try to tone it down a bit. If I’m planning my own family’s outfits, I usually pick out my daughter’s first. If she wears a pattern, then I will pull colors from that pattern and my husband and I will wear solids in that shade. Typically, when choosing outfits for photos, one pattern per family/couple is best!
4. Bigger is better
Usually, this rule applies more to the guys than girls. When it comes to patterns, bigger is better. Sometimes, guys’ dress shirts have tiny patterns that morph into odd shapes on camera. See my friend Tyler’s shirt below for an example of how a small plus sign pattern can look almost like sequins when blurred through my lens! This made his shirt look lighter blue in some pictures even though it was navy.
5. Wear what flatters you
This seems obvious, but if you don’t love your arms, then don’t pick a sleeveless top when choosing outfits for photos! Sometimes, super long dresses on short people make them appear shorter than they are, so it’s better to stick to a midi or tea length dress/ skirt. If you’re a new mom and are still adjusting to your postpartum body, peplum style or flowy tops might be a better choice than something super clingy (I know this helped me immensely when I was self-conscious about my post-baby bod! Literally all tight shirts were packed away or given away 😂). Most importantly, wear something that you feel comfortable in. You don’t want to be worried about having to readjust a shirt every few minutes during your session!
Accessories are great for photos- jewelry, scarves, sweaters, vests, coats (if seasonally appropriate) all add depth to your shot and are easy to take off to create variety. However- my favorite accessory of all is flowers! For couples of any kind (engagement, anniversary, or regular couple session), a small bouquet for your session literally takes your shoot to an entirely new level in the best way possible. Looking to add in some florals for a family shoot? Give the girls a bloom or two in their hair, or maybe even a flower crown!
Kate attended a wedding the night before her engagement session and snagged a bridesmaid’s bouquet at the end of the night to bring along to her session!! I LITERALLY squealed when I saw her walking up to me with a bouquet. It also made for some EXTRA pretty ring shots!
I made and wore a baby’s breath flower crown for my own engagement photos!
Both of these flower crowns were made by Mom with grocery store flowers and some wire. It takes a little extra effort but TOTALLY elevates the overall portrait! SO worth it!