Family photos. You either love ’em or hate ’em, but regardless of which you typically make a point to take them — at least once a year and with the holidays rolling in, I am sure most of you already have your appointments booked or have them done already.
Each year, I struggle to figure out how to dress the family for the photo. With a baby that will undoubtedly drool or snot on her outfit, a 3.5-year-old boy who refuses to wear collared shirts or clothes that are too tight or fuzzy, a six-year old who thinks she’s 14 and wants to dress accordingly, and a husband who does not want to partake at all — I get stumped. Thankfully, Brittany Davidson of Chocolate Soup is here to guest post and save me (and you) with her awesome tips when it comes to dressing the family for great photos.
It’s that time of year again, the leaves are turning and everyone’s minds are on the upcoming holidays. Many families are getting ready to take their yearly photos. It’s a great way to capture how everyone looked that year, especially the littles since they grow up so quickly. It’s also a common practice to use these photos for personalized Holiday or Thank-you cards. A sweet sentiment and treasured keepsake; however, can turn into a coordinating nightmare. I have had so many family members and friends reach out to me for help when their impending photo shoot date was looming closer and they still had no idea how to get everyone dressed without it looking like a hot mess.
Coordinating the family’s outfits (don’t think matchy-matchy, because hello 80’s flashbacks to the whole family wearing white button up shirts and acid wash jeans!) makes the overall photo so much more cohesive and pleasing to the eye. You don’t want to be distracted by Dad’s bad Hawaiian shirt or grumpy teen’s rock band shirt. It certainly does not need to be an overwhelming or logistics nightmare to do. Here are some simple steps you can follow to find the perfect outfit for everyone in your family and get that perfect family photo you desire. Although we can’t help you with little Susie not having a meltdown during pictures, that one’s on you, Mama.
- Pick a Color Story: This is what designers do when making a collection they pick a color story that all the clothes will follow to have a common thread that ties everything together. Pick preferably two to four colors that go well together and will fit well with whatever background/season you’re in. We just had our family photos and went with a simple Navy, Cream, and Gray. We did our photos outside so I wanted strong, neutral colors that went well in Fall.
- Pick Weather Appropriate Clothing: This one seems pretty obvious but don’t be picking out a spring white dress for an autumn shoot. It may be the cutest dress but it’s not going to look right in a Fall photo and you’re going to be freezing and uncomfortable to boot. Dress appropriately.
- Stick to a Dress Code: Whether you want your family dressed to the nines or keeping it casual make sure every member is the same across the board. It’s going to look odd in a photo if you have one member in a ball gown and another in shorts.
- Start with the Hardest Member First: This is a key tip to avoid overwhelm. Once you’ve decided on a dress code, and your colors you’re going to be thinking about what’s in everyone’s wardrobe in your head and immediately going to want to trash the whole concept all together. Start with the member that is the hardest first and pick out their outfit, don’t worry about anyone else’s until you get to them. Go one by one working your way from hardest to easiest member. I picked out my daughter’s outfit first as she has fairly limited “nice” clothes. She’s three so the majority are t-shirts and leggings. After her I picked out my outfit next then my fiancé’s as men only have so much to choose from anyway so leave them until last.
- Steer Clear of Things that will get Dated: You may just adore that peasant blouse top you got but chances are if it’s a hot trend that season it’s going to be out just as quickly. You want to be able to display your family photos proudly for years to come so don’t embarrass yourself later by choosing pieces of clothing that will be outdated quickly. If you don’t believe me just ask anyone who got married in the 80’s. Do they like their clothing style still? Stick to more basic, neutral clothing options. They will have your whole family looking sharp for years to come.
- Solids and Print: Mix and match your solids with your prints. Throw in different textures as well. It adds visual interest and will make sure your photos don’t come across as monotone. If you’re sticking to your color story it won’t make it look like it’s all over the place because they’ll still be tied together. My daughter wore a Chocolate Soup dress with a design on the front and a knit sweater to add some texture. I wore a solid cream top with some detail on the sleeves to add a little interest and dark jeans. We both wore brown knee-high boots. My fiancé wore a printed cream shirt with a cable knit navy sweater and dark jeans.
- Spread Out the Color: Each member doesn’t need to wear every color from your color story, in fact it’s better if they didn’t. That’s what will tie the whole family together. If you work through and pick out each member’s outfit one at a time it should naturally spread itself out. Maybe your son has the perfect shirt in one color and your daughter a dress in another.
- Accent with Neutrals: Now that you have your color story and items picked out you can accent with a neutral color. To keep it simple I would suggest either black or brown. So, boots, shoes, belts etc. can all be this neutral color. We went with brown because it paired nicely with our Fall color story. My daughter and I both wore knee high brown boots.
- Go Light on the Accessories: Much like not wanting to pick clothing that may become dated quickly, going light on the accessories is a good idea too. You don’t want to distract from your faces or overwhelm the overall photo. For women depending on what you’re wearing I’d stick to one neutral statement necklace or bracelet. Little girls just a bow or nothing at all. Less is always more in photos.
- Be Comfortable: No matter what you pick make sure everyone is comfortable in their respected outfits. If they’re not it’s likely to come across in their photos. I had picked out a different shirt and sweater for my fiancé originally and he didn’t like how it fit. We did a quick change out for something similar and he looked and felt great!
Brittany is the designer behind Chocolate Soup, a children’s clothing and accessory line. She is a milspouse and a mother to a spunky three-year-old daughter. She can be found at www.simplyhappylife.com or you can check out her shop for your little nugget needs at www.chocolatesoupshop.com
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