I've been working with the lovely and heart centered "I" and her family for a few years now. I've enjoyed every minute of it. So when "I" suggested she'd like a bridge in the photos, "I" came up with about 4-5 locations I thought could work. Through out the booking process, clients and I usually talk about time of day that is best for light (it changes throughout the year) and time of day that is most agreeable for the youngest of the clients. These often do not coincide. Once we settle those two times and agree on an hour of the day, we work our location based on what we have narrowed down (unless location was chosen first for a lifestyle session). "I" was super happy when I told me an after dinner session would be possible with her lovely girls. The light is lovely in Michigan after dinner during the summer months. This left just one thing up the air. What shall they wear? Sometimes, clients will send me some pictures of what they have picked out and ask opinions on different options (which I am happy to do!). Usually, more often, I'm surprised when clients come to a session. I love seeing what families have chosen to represent themselves. "I"'s family has a spectacular style and chooses outfits well!
I has done a spectacular job. She has all the elements I love to see in a family session outfits.
If you have ever wondered how to blend coordinating outfits together with the talent of I, have no fear.
5 Helpful Tips Coordinate Family Outfits Like a Pro
1. Coordinate but not match.
When I was younger, the style of fashion was for everyone to wear the same exact thing. I still see this on occasion, however, I think it does your images a disservice. A great image tells a great story. I find you often lose a layer of story building when everyone wears the same thing or color. I'll explain this in the #3. If you are in a rut and are not finding outfits that coordinate try looking at a department store. They often choose a color family for a season and you can find outfits for many people in a one stop shop. My favorite way, however, is by shopping for one person first, then building off that. You'll learn more about this in #4.
2. Upper arms and shorts
A rule of thumb is to avoid exposing upper arms and thighs. That means tank tops and short shorts are less preferred in photos. This isn't as much for modesty as an image composition helper. Bare upper arms can be distracting in some pictures (even the most shapely arms). They tend to leading the viewer's eye in directions that are not back towards the family's faces (which is what we want to look at!) Shorts can do the same thing in sitting poses. This isn't a solid rule, but a general helper. When I have had my own photos taken I've worn a summer shrug over my tank top dress or a crop denim jacket to avoid this artistic catch. I don't find that lower thigh length dresses are an issue so no fear sundress lovers!
3. Show off everyone's personality
If you can, try to get an outfit that speaks to each person. In this session, Mom wore a fabulous lacy top. It was so her. Little P wore overalls, showing off her spunkiness, L wore the most fashionable dress (she is a fashionista), and Dad wore a casual yet dressy shirt. Everyone was comfortable in their own shoes and being exactly who they are. This helped them to be at ease, which made getting relaxed images that much easier. And for the viewer, you can surmise that L loves being a girly-girl, P is very active, Mom has wonderful taste and probably a professional, and Dad works in a white collar environment. Their expressions tell you more about who they are and their sassiness level. This builds the story the picture. And for this family, it tells the story of their life at this moment. Maybe in a few years, one parent's profession will change and so will their wardrobe, or L will get into sports and P will further develop other parts of her personality. Each image will tell the story of that time.
4. Build off of one or two outfits, let the others accent.
I often suggest getting the hardest to dress person an outfit first, then building off that outfit to coordinate. In my family, I find my outfit first. I'm very picky and often wear athleisurewear. While I love athleisure-wear (think really cool yoga pants and breathable fabrics), but I'd rather not be in it in every family photo session. So I find an outfit that speaks to me and build my other less picky dressers outfits off of that. Another option is to find an inspiration outfit (not necessarily for the pickiest dresser). In this case L's dress is the inspiration piece. It holds the key to all the images. Everyone else's outfits build from and support L's dress. Mom's lacy shirt is white, P's light pink overall create a hazy sky backdrop, and Dad's light blue shirt tucks seamlessly next to the pastel stripes. No one outfit is the same, but they all blend seamlessly as this dress gave them a lot of options to pull from. I also love it when accent colors are pulled into other outfits as accessories (see more in #5!).
5. Textures and accessories
This is the hidden gem of the photo. Think of these as icing on the cake. Some people only eat the icing off o cakes (totally me 5 years ago), but most people prefer a well baked cake and less icing to eat. Think of your outfits as finely iced cakes. Little decorations adding to the main show. Textures are like the color of icing on a cake. They create a background. In photos, textures of clothing create a lot of fun patterns for light to catch and bounce off of. Sometimes patterns can also create this effect. In these images, Dad wore twill, which has a little texture but not too much, Mom's lacy shirt caught light in all the right ways, and the linens and canvas of L & P's outfits were perfection for a summer evening. Along with the texture of clothing, lightly adding accessories can also give more layers to an image for the viewers eye to bounce around. In this case, Mom's earring were a huge help. They drew the picture back to her and then you usually look right again at one of her adorable daughters. Dad's glasses, buttons on his shirts, L's shoes, the buckles on P's overalls each count as accessories. L's braids, and even the flowers she picked and tucked in her hair were all helpful keeping eye movement going. Other fun accessories to keep in mind are hats, watches, rings, bracelets, belts, bows, headbands, scarfs, nail polish, or socks sticking out of shoes.
Now that you know my tricks on coordinating outfits, take a gander at her session highlights and spy other tricks used to create a masterful outfit collection!
Ready to show out your coordinating outfit skills? Book a session today!
The latest images hot off of the PLP editing screen.