- Choosing Colors – What colors I recommend for a portrait session is by FAR the most common question I am asked when scheduling family photos!
Neutral colors: Softer, lighter tones and more muted shades are the most flattering for any skin tones. Bright and bold colors can reflect in your skin tones, and the goal is for these images to make everyone featured in them look their best! There is nothing more sophisticated than light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown, and white!
Bonus: A soft color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments.
2. Coordinating the Crew – As you’re coordinating outfits for the whole family, the MOST important thing is that you COORDINATE and not match.
In fact, I recommend that you avoid “matching” altogether, and instead think about what “fits” together. This will create more visual interest, and allow each personality to shine through.
The goal is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more we can mix that up, the better. Think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it’s going to look great all together.
3. Flattering Your Features – Everyone… I repeat, EVERYONE has something about themselves that they are self-conscious about, so recognizing what area that is in advance is key.
Three-quarter length sleeves create an awesome slimming effect on all arms, so be on the lookout for an option with a longer length sleeve. You could also bring a cute jacket, blazer or cardigan along, too.
Heels elongate women’s legs, making them look fabulous. Closed-toed heels in particular look great on camera because they carry out the line of your leg all the way down to your toe. If your toes are showing in a peep-toe heel, you might want to schedule a pedicure before your session so you don’t regret letting your feet show. These little tricks make all the difference!
4. Layering the Looks – Next time you walk by a store like J. Crew, you’ll notice the mannequins and models are always wearing several layers at once. That’s because layers look great on camera!
Adding another layer will bring extra dimension and visual interest to your photos. Blazers, vests and coats up the level of any look. This is an added bonus if you’re scheduling your photo session in the colder Chicago months! Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
5. Paying Attention to the Details
Ladies: Get those nails done! What a perfect excuse to treat yourself! Professional hair and makeup also goes a long way in making these images look even more professional and high-end. Gentlemen: Ties, bowties, pocket squares, colored socks, belts, suspenders, vests and watches are sharp complements to any outfit for men and boys alike.
Accessorize: Planning some statement pieces can also enhance the look of your overall images. Flower crowns, statement necklaces, bows and bowties for your littles can also add that little bit of extra dimension!
6. Tips for Mom
Say Yes to the Dress! Dresses and skirts look most stunning because they really flatter every female body, especially on camera!
Long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they bring extra movement to the photos, especially when juxtaposed with nature. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.
When considering the length of your dresses or skirts, it’s also a good idea to factor in whether or not there will be little ones in your photos. If you have smaller children, we’ll likely have you sitting or crouching on the ground to interact up-close with them. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses photograph beautifully, but if you have little ones in your photos, a floor-length dress or skirt, or perhaps a cute midi-skirt, will make moving around with your kids much easier.
7. Tips for Dad – Long pants + Closed-toe shoes (No gym shoes!)
Long, fitted pants and closed-toed shoes are the most sophisticated and masculine looks for men. They draw attention away from his legs and feet and place it where you want it: on his handsome face. So, for your session, it’s best to leave the shorts, sandals and jeans at home, too, as well as any pants that are loose or baggy. Solid shades of gray or navy are a strong complement to most women’s outfits. Brown leather dress shoes complement almost every look!