The photo session is booked but now comes the daunting task of deciding on outfits for the whole family. We'll go over some DOs and some DON'Ts of dressing your whole crew for your fall family photo session.
All of the items shown below can be found at Walmart. This year they have a great selection of styles for the whole family to coordinate. Mix in a few staples you already have in your closet and you'll be good to go. Old Navy is also a good place to get outfits for everyone that coordinate at low prices.
Let's dress a fictious family of 6 with a 10 year old son, 7 year old son, 5 year old daughter and 1 year old toddler girl.
Color Scheme: Navy, burgundy, tan, burnt orange
Mom: Burgundy swing dress with denim jacket
Dad: Tan quarter zip pull over with jeans
10 year old son: Dusty blue ribbed top, cargo pants
7 year old son: Orange/navy plaid button up open over a cream shirt with navy pants
5 year old daughter: Dusty rose dress with textured skirt with cream corduroy jacket
1 year old daughter: Rust colored leggings with matching top/dress
Why this works: The jackets add layers for mom and daughter, there is only one strong pattern that pulls the colors together.
All these items can be purchased at Walmart for under $200 (for all 6 members!) but most likely you have some of these items already so it wouldn't cost much to invest in a few of these pieces. And since they are basics, you'll be able to wear them again after pictures. (Save them away in a closet before then so you'll have everything ready for picture day and not have to worry about it getting stained before hand.)
Next here is a family of 4 with mom, dad, son and daughter
Color Scheme: Olive Green, Navy, Cream, Dusty Pink
Mom: Skinny jeans, dusty pink plaid with cream vest
Dad: Khakis with light aqua quarter zip pullover
Son: Navy knit sweater with dark brown cargo pants
Daughter: Olive green dress with pattern with cream corduroy jacket
Why this works: The pattern of mom's shirt and daughter's dress do not clash and the colors from the flowers in the dress are tied with the other members of the family. Though the son's top is a dark color the texture will photograph nicely and each pairing of family members work together.
The total bill for these items for all 4 is under $150. If it's chilly you can throw on a pair of leggings or tights for the daughter - cream or light pink would work well. For dad, I would also add a cream undershirt.
Now for some "please don't show up at your photo shoot with these outfits" examples
Mom: Bright pink dress - There is a bit of texture with the tie but no layers to add visual interest. The bright color will not photograph nicely, especially at a nature location.
Dad: Plain white shirt with sweat pants. In general you want to avoid white or black tops as they do not photograph well. Instead choose creams and browns. And, as comfy as they are, please don't wear sweats!
Son: Bright orange athletic type shirt with athletic joggers with large logo. While the color of the top is ok try to choose a shirt with a bit more texture and/or structure to it.
Daughter: Unicorn dress with lots of neon colors in skirt. Avoid characters on their shirts. This dress could be appropriate for a kid's birthday shoot where the goal is to document their likes/style at their age but this isn't great for posed family photos.
Ready for another example of what NOT to do? There are (at least) 3 things wrong with the following outfits. (1) Everyone in the family below is in a different shade of blue. (2) Mixing patterns that are somewhat similar but just end up competing. (3) Exact matching tops/bottoms for kids.
Now, it is possible to make outfits work if you really want to just have one main color but you need to mix neutrals in to make it balance out. And please, please don't put your kids in the same exact shirt. The reason is when they are standing next to each other the clothes will blend together and the kids won't stand out. Think: zebras in a crowd - it's hard to tell where one zebra stops and another begins. It may be a good camouflage survival tactic but it's not great for pictures.
Of course these are an exaggeration but you get the idea...
So here's the recap:
DO - Choose 2-3 colors then mix and match
DON'T - Matching and/or all outfits in the same color family
DO - Choose muted tones and use neutrals
DON'T - Avoid primary colors, neon colors, black/white
DO - Include items with layers and/or texture
DON'T - Large logos/characters
Once you book your session I'll also send out an Outfit Guide with even more tips and examples of what do wear and what to avoid.