Family Pictures: 10 Steps to the Perfect Outfits

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by Laura

You don’t want to admit it and neither do I, but it is time to get those pictures taken for the Christmas cards!  Family pictures can put fear and trembling into a lot of moms, and I know a few husbands who would rather have a cavity filled without novocain than take pictures. 

There’s the outfit picking, the photographer prices, and then the ordeal of getting just.one.nice.picture.  You know this gold standard? The picture where everyone is looking at the camera, no tears in the eyes, and everyone is super happy about the clothes they get to wear?  HA!  

Growing up as a photographer’s daughter and doing some very basic photography myself I can see how the outfit really does help pull the entire look together, so I’ve come up with 10 things to consider when planning outfits for your family portrait.  

1. Location

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If you are taking pictures in a grass field, an urban setting, or inside with a backdrop, you are going to want your outfits to contrast and compliment the background instead of blend in.  If you are wanting some outside nature photos, you might want to steer away from wearing the exact color of the grass you are sitting in.  If you want to take pictures on the steps of a museum, kaki colored clothing might not be your best choice.  This doesn’t mean you have to have a super bright or opposite color, but just enough different that you aren’t all blending in.  

2. Formality

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Think about how formal you want your picture to look.  Are you going for casual t-shirts and shorts, all out with dresses and heels, somewhere in the middle?  Our Easter picture above was pretty formal, and this was, believe it or not, the best picture of all of us together.   

3. First Piece 

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Next step is to pick one piece that you want to build the families outfits around.  Maybe it’s a shirt of your husband’s, a skirt of your daughter’s, or even a bow tie for your son.  Start with one piece and work from there. For our family pictures coming up I loved a new checkered shirt of Eric’s, and so I decided to start with this.  

4. Color Story

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 Now you’ll need to decide what you are going to do with the other members of the family, so let’s create a color story.  Do you want a more neutral look with whites, browns, creams? Do you want soft colors, bright colors, or statement pieces? Once you have thought through a color story, walk into each person’s closet and choose a few different items that go with that story.  Think compliment, not match.

For me, I found Eva and Malachi’s complimenting pieces easily, but I had a hard time choosing a top for me.  I found four that I liked and each one brought a different feel to the picture. 

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See what I mean?  The navy makes the outfits cool and would look great in an urban setting.  The teal softens my look up a little but still adds a color pop.  The Grey sweater softens up the picture but won’t look great in the background we are going to, (state capital), and the Tan is also a nice soft color but again, will not be a good fit for our location.  I’m torn between the navy and the teal.  Which would you choose?  

5. Fashion Formula 

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Apply Angela’s Fashion Formula to creating each person’s outfit.  1.  Neutral.  2.  Color/Pattern/Texture 3.  Completer.  You can read more about it here.  Especially if you are going with a more neutral feel to your family pictures like we did in California picture above, the fashion formula is going to take your look from blah to wow!  

If you love neutrals or even gravitate to one color, each person’s outfit needs to have texture, (think knits, lace, overlays) or patterns, and slightly different colors so that you are not the amoeba family.  You can add sweet neutral accessories that keep your look soft, but give an individual look to each person.  

6. Lay it out

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Bring all the options together into one place. At this point in the process begin to lay out the items or hang them up to see how they look all together.  Does anything clash?  Are their competing pieces?  Is it too loud, too blah?  

7. Pop not blend

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Here is where I look at each piece next to the others and make sure no two people are going to blend together.  See me and my cute friends together? Because we are wearing jean jackets we meld into each other.  

In a family picture if I am wearing a navy shirt and my daughter has on a navy dress we will blend into one big blob, but if we choose complimentary outfits we will each have our own shape to our own body lines and each outfit stands apart from the others.  I especially do this with the pant/skirt choices.  Again, If I have on olive green pants and my son is hugging my leg in the picture with an olive shirt, we blend instead of pop.  

8. Take a Picture  

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Now on your bed, or the floor, or your curtain rod, lay out all the clothes with pants, skirts etc, and take a picture. You might be surprised how things look in the picture vs. how they look in real life.  That awesome detail you love in your shirt doesn’t show up in the picture, do you want to keep it or change it for something else.  Notice your husband and son’s pants are the same color and don’t pop, think about what you can do to change it up.  

9. Try on clothes

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At this point in the process you should be pretty settled on what everyone is wearing, but try on any clothes that haven’t been worn before to determine if someone needs an undershirt, a different size, tights, or is completely uncomfortable with your choice.  Better to have knowledge and tears before picture day!  

10.  Accessorize  

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My favorite part of pictures is deciding on the accessories which is the “completer” part of the Fashion Formula.  Shoes, belts, scarves, jewelry, hats, cardigans, jackets, ALL these things pull the looks together.  Here’s my friend’s family who used a coral necklace to continue the color story of her son’s shirt throughout the picture and it looks ADORABLE!

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Ok!  You guys are ready for family photo season!  Best of luck friends!     

 

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