5 Tips for Choosing Outfits for Photos
What should we wear?
This might be the question that I get asked the most when consulting with clients before a photo session. To ease your mind and make your session FUN, I have 5 tips (in addition to my short FB video last week) to help ease your mind about what to wear on a photo shoot! This can apply to families, engagements, couples and seniors but for the purpose of today, I will use my family because I have some examples of things I loved and some things where I could've done a little better in choosing outfits.
1: DRESS FOR THE WEATHER (well, at least the kids!). I should heed my own advice here. But sometimes, just sometimes, the outfit trumps whatever is going on outside! Our usual times of the year for family photos are when we are at the beach or in November before Christmas. The first year we did professional beach photos, I wore a 3/4 length sleeve shirt and white denim jeans. It was 98 degrees that day with 1000% humidity! When we had our Christmas photos taken last year, it was in the 30's but I had this blue dress that I loved and it was worth freezing in! It's worth it to me to wear what I think will look good . Little people do NOT feel the same way though. So when coordinating outfits mama, pick yours first if you're set on something and work everyone else around you so they are comfortable and cooperative.
2: PICK COORDINATING OUTFITS WITHOUT "MATCHING" EVERYONE. In the above photos, I found the navy dress (on SALE!) that I loved, so for that particular photo session, I worked everyone around my outfit. I happened to find the boys boy ties and suspenders on sale on the Children's Place website which was a big score for me because I knew they may only wear them a few times. They already had khakis and white shirts, so they were easy! For my husband, if I had him wear a dark shirt next to my dark dress, it would have been too many dark colors. So for him, he happened to have a white shirt with very faint blue vertical stripes that coordinated with the boys.
In the beach photo, above, again, we did not match our clothes but wore colors that coordinated together. My husband and I wore similar colors but flip-flopped the order. If we both had blue shirts and white shorts/jeans, I think the focus would have been too much on us and not the boys. I gave Aiden light colors to offset the bit of dark, and Ethan a coral color to make him pop and add some color to match the beach theme.
3: CHOOSE LIGHT COLORS. When in doubt, choose light colors. Or if there is a special piece of clothing that is special to your session and it's dark, have the others wear light to offset. In the photo with my husband, Aiden is wearing dark clothes, it changed the whole mood of the photo. I love the photo but if I could go back, I would have had Eugene wear a lighter colored shirt. I will explain in #5 why we had round 2 of those photos so I literally threw together whatever I could. You can see the difference in the photo where I am wearing the blue dress and the guys are in white with their light colored ties. The photo looks more cohesive with the pops of color. In that instance, I had once again found ties on clearance for the boys. They were pink with yellow and blue intertwined. I happened to have that blue dress and Eugene's outfit was easy. I had originally planned on a pale pink dress. I ordered it online and it did not look like I had pictured it at ALL. I tried various things to make it work but I knew that in the end, no matter HOW good the photos were with composition or lighting, if I didn't like how I looked , there was NO WAY I was going to like the photos. So here is a bonus tip: LOVE your OUTFIT!!!
4: CHOOSE SOLIDS OVER PATTERNS. This one can be tough. Again, if there is an article of clothing that one of you REALLY like, add it in! But just coordinate the others so there is not too much going on in the photo. Another bonus tip: vertical stripes (especially wide ones) can be very hard on the eyes in photos and often do NOT flatter anyone!
Below is another Christmas photo. The time of the year for reds, greens and plaids!! But you can do it right with a little coordination!! In the first photo, I should have chosen a solid, light colored shirt for Eugene. But we were in a hurry to get to our session and I hadn't planned his out enough beforehand. I made sure not to have both boys in plaid though. I think Aiden's gray sweater offset the red plaid shirt that Ethan wore. And the ties gave a subtle pop of holiday color. I put a lot more effort into planning 2019's photos vs 2018's photos. I love them BOTH but there are differences and I have learned so much over the last year by educating myself with photography classes that it's worth sharing!
5: GET DRESSED UP AND HAVE FUN!!!!! I can't stress this one enough!! Family photos are a special time!! They are memories that will most likely go up on your wall to admire and reminisce about the fun times you had. Especially during these quarantine days, I look at our beach photos ALL day and we talk about the fun times we have had. It helps to get us through the sometimes long days hoping for another fun trip in the future.
Of course there are the bloopers though...the behind the scenes that the photos don't always show but we certainly remember! We have two sets of photos from 2018 because on the day of our scheduled session (the white jeans/blue shirt one) it was supposed to storm so the photographer asked to do the session mid-day. It was hotter than hot, the glue from my fake eyelashes was melting into my eyes, Ethan was screaming because he didn't like the sand, Aiden was covering his eyes because the sun was blazing and Eugene forgot to bring flip flops for our beach photos. Oh- and I got to close to the water, a wave broke and soaked my white jeans with sand. We got a few good ones but the photographer called me the next day and asked if we could have a re-do. He was a sweet and kind person and voluntarily decided to meet my crew again for round 2...enter the dark clothes and unplanned outfits because we only had a short amount of time to get ready. I did not do my hair or put on that much makeup and we had very few shots posed because the kids weren't having this second go-around. But boy...did he ever capture some great candids!! We dug for shells, played in the sand and watched the sun go down.
Fast forward to last year's beach photos. It was my Mother's Day present. I asked my family for beach pictures again. I REALLY planned our outfits. The photographer was sweet and kind and patient. She was a gem with the boys. However, Ethan was adamant about wearing his water shoes in the photos. REALLY?? He refused to wear them ALL WEEK!!! I decided to let it go though...it was either take them and he scream or let him have them and have a happy sunset session. I chose the latter. At least they provided to be useful when both boys ended up waist deep in the ocean 30 minutes into our session. But the memories we have from those three sessions are ones to last forever.
I hope this helps you in your next photo adventure!! Choosing outfits is important, but memories in the making are the absolute BEST!! Have fun with it!! Feel free to post any questions under the video in the Jennifer Kurz Photography FB page! I hope to see you all soon for some summer sessions!! Stay safe!!
* Photo credit to Ari Grealish of Grealish Photography for all of our Christmas Photos, Paul Farmer Photography for 2018 beach photos and Jessica Dieckhaus for 2019 beach photos.