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What to Wear for Family Portraits

The most time consuming and difficult part of a family photo shoot...clothes to wear

cute family portrait

Family photos can be enhanced by choosing the perfect outfits for your family. There are many tips and tricks that can help you achieve the perfect look of a family, without overdone matching.

How to Coordinate
It's best to choose a basic color palette, and important to coordinate and complement, without all wearing the same outfits or exact same colors. You may like to have one bold outfit that features a pattern. Everyone else can pull the colors from that outfit, but keep their choices simple. Whether you want your photos to be more neutral with a few bright bold colors that pop, or a range of tones within the same shade, by keeping outfit choices simple, you can create a more timeless feel.

By coordinating outfits, you can create a cohesive feel to your family portraits, without forced and overdone matching. Choose colors that look good together, and make sure everyone has a similar amount of texture to their outfits. You don't want one person wearing a layered chiffon skirt with a chunky sweater and have everyone else in simple cotton.

You can always use accessories to help coordinate without looking matchy. Daughter wearing a headband the same color as dad's shirt can help pull everything together.

Keep it simple
Even though it's ok to have one person wearing a patterned outfit, keeping that pattern simpler makes your family photographs look better. Small patterns photograph better. Also, a pattern with no more than four colors is recommended. It's easier to get away with using more colors if you're using a softer color palette. Bold colors should be used sparingly.

By layering, you give your photographer more options and allow for more "outfit changes" without having to actually wrangle everyone into an entirely different set of clothes.

Layers are also great for creating texture, which is particularly important in black and white photographs. Texture makes photographs more interesting without detracting from the expressions of the subjects.

Use Accessories
By choosing accessories that work with the outfits, you give everyone more options. Not only can accessories be easily switched out throughout the course of a photo-shoot, but they also give the subjects something they can interact with. Sometimes it's the little gestures that make the best moments to capture on camera. Whether it's a toddler grabbing his suspenders or mom holding down her big hat as a gust of wind blows, little movements help bring life into a photograph.

What NOT to Wear
Although all these rules can be broken if the shoot calls for it, keeping all these tips in mind is a safe bet for getting the timeless family portraits you've always wanted.

Firstly, never wear anything with a graphic or logo on it. Anything with writing is also no good. Graphics have a tendency to cheapen the feeling of photographs and give them a casual feel, while also dating it.

Don't make everyone wear the same color. Completely matching is not just boring, it's an outdated way of doing portraits. By coordinating rather than matching, you allow everyone to showcase their personality. You want a portrait that showcases everyone's individuality.

Don't wear white socks or sneakers, as both make the portrait casual. Sneakers that are simple or fashionable are ok, but try to stay away from your regular everyday tennis shoes.

What's the photo for?
When choosing what to wear for family photos, keep in mind the purpose you're getting your photo taken. If it's for the Christmas card, dress is seasonally-appropriate clothing, while still following the guidelines of keeping it simple.

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