The session fee is paid, the portrait agreement signed, and you’re excited about your upcoming session.  But then . . . the dreaded question arises: “What on earth are we going to wear?”  Undoubtedly you know the basic portrait rules: that you can’t go wrong with solid colors, that you probably don’t want 40 photos of Aaron in his day-glo Lightning McQueen tee shirt (maybe a few, though, since he loves it so much?), and that a huge bow on Violet’s head might draw a bit too much attention away from her sparkling hazel eyes.  But where to go from there?  And what traditional portrait wardrobe rules are meant to be bent, if not broken entirely? And what about dressing the entire family? Worry no more--that’s where this guide enters the, ahem, picture.  So sit back, enjoy a little light reading, and get inspired!  The result will be fresh, classic yet distinctly modern portraits that tell the story of your family.

 

Families

Flowing white shirts and khakis on the beach.  Navy polos and yet more khakis all around.  We’ve all seen those photos--heck, most of us have been in those photos.  But did you know that coordinated but not “uniform” looks for families create a much more pleasing photograph? Moreover, it is not nearly as difficult as you think it is!  The cardinal rule of family dressing for portraits is simple: choose items for the entire family as if you were creating one outfit.  If all of your choices were somehow on one person, would the result be pleasing, colorwise?  A handy trick for those who are hesitant to break away from the monochrome madness is to choose one patterned item (for example a print dress for your daughter) and then select the rest of the family’s clothing from colors within that pattern.

Siblings

Wardrobe choices for sibling shots, like those for family images, should be complementary but far from “a matching uniform.”  A tried and true formula for a boy/girl sibling duo includes a patterned dress or skirt for the girl, with the boy in a solid shirt pulled from that pattern.  If the little girl is wearing a solid shirt with a patterned skirt, have the boy’s top match a different color in her skirt, so that their shirts don’t match precisely.  Trust me, it works!  While many parents have the urge to put their boys or girls in the exact same outfit, mixing it up a bit--while still creating a pleasing overall combination--creates a considerably more interesting color palette and image.

 

Star Of The Show

A wildly-patterned pair of cargo pants and a hipster tee. Her funky hot pink tutu and cowboy boots.  His “superhero” cape. Individual shots give your child a chance to show his or her personality through fashion like no other. Without the concern of clashing or competing patterns that exists in a family shot, the possibilities are limitless!  So break out your daughter’s bright, crazy, mismatched ensemble--the one that gives your Strasburg-loving mother-in-law fits--or your son’s beloved rain boots, and let’s capture something bold, memorable, and no-holds-barred fun!

 

Newborns

Newborns are absolute perfection when they wear nothing at all! For variety and some fun pops of color, I have plenty of blankets, hats and headbands. You are also free to bring whatever special items you would like to incorporate--that also gives the images a personal touch.

There are few things as stunning as skin-on-skin shots of a newborn and the proud parents. Dad can be shirtless for some shots, Mom can wear a strapless bra or tank top.  Images for this type of shot are generally closely cropped.  Also, long-sleeved black shirts for Mom and Dad provide a sophisticated, dramatic “backdrop.”  

And lastly, expect a mess.  That’s right, a mess – specifically peep and poop.  And do not be embarrassed.  After all, your little one has been naked for a couple of hours, it’s bound to happen.  All professional child photographers expect this and are well prepared.  And you should be, too.  So bring a change of clothes for yourself and dad.  You may need it before you head home.  By the way, nine times out of ten, it’s the dad who gets it!

 

Maternity

The simplest wardrobe choice for your maternity session is . . . none at all!  Moms-to-be are often stunned at the elegant images that result from creative posing and camera angles that show “just enough.” If you’re not inclined to bare all, there are many options that result in the gorgeous bare belly shots everyone wants.  Try a fitted tank top and low-waisted yoga pants (black looks especially sleek).  The “fitted” part for any wardrobe choice is key.  A few fun shots with hip tees with clever proclamations on them are always nice as well!  Be sure to keep tightly-fitted elastic waistbands and socks far far away for a few hours before your shoot so that we avoid indentations in your skin. Wristwatches are also best left off for the session.