Charlotte Family Photographer / The Dos and Don'ts of Styling your Family Photo Session
Wednesday, October 18, 2017
By Carrie Howland Photography
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You've booked a fantastic photographer (IMHO).  You've selected a picturesque location.  Now, what should you wear?  I've been getting this question quite a bit so I thought that I'd write a blog post with some tips.  

I'll start with what not to do and then we'll go from there.


Avoid these wardrobe traps:

  • T-Shirts / Graphic Prints (even long sleeved T-shirts or plain Tees are a "no no".)
  • Matching (gone are the days when the whole family would wear the same shirt and blue jeans).  Think about coordinating rather than matching.  I'll go into that later.
  • Dressing out of season.  We have odd seasons (like this year) where it might be autumn but still be very warm.  This year, the trees are still green and we're into the third week of October.  Dressing for the season goes a long way to give that seasonal look you're going for even when the weather tells you differently.
  • Black.  Okay, this one may be a bit controversial, and it's probably just my personal preference, but I don't like black in photos.  I feel like it looks harsh, draws the eye and changes the mood a little.  Don't get me wrong, I love a LBD but I just wouldn't wear it for family photos.
  • White in the fall and winter.  I like white dresses and shirts for spring and summer because I feel like it fits the light and airy feel of that season but for fall and winter, if you're going to go with white, try off-white or "winter white" instead.  Also, true white (as well as black) are the first colors to be clipped in a challenging exposure.  When a color is "clipped" that means that the detail in those pixels has been "blown out" and wasn't captured but he camera.  


So, now that we've discussed what not to wear, lets talk about what we should do.  I put together a style board using Polyvore to illustrate this discussion.



In the example above, I've chosen a color palette and coordinated my entire family with that palette.  To choose a palette that works for your family, it can be as simple as choosing one color that you really look good in and want to wear for your photos and then choosing complimentary, adjacent or neutral colors to round off your scheme.  Another way you might choose a color palette is by looking at your home.  How have you decorated?  These photos will hopefully be hung large and proud and you'll want them to compliment your decor.  In my house, I have lots of rich wood tones, light colored warm neutral walls and accents of gold and teal here and there.  You can see those color choices also reflected in the wardrobe above.  Remember, do not be too matchy-matchy.  You'll see how I've weaved browns, ivories, greys and tiny hints of blues and golds through each person's outfit but nobody matches.  It is not necessary for every person in the family to wear each color in your selected palette.  


Layer and accessorize!  Layers and accessories add visual interest to your photo.  They also give you something to hold or play with if you're feeling a bit awkward posing for the camera.  A tug at your husband's tie, a tilt and slight hold of your hat, two little chubby hands holding a bow tie proudly.  These would all be cute little poses in photos.  I love bow ties and vests for little boys.  You'll pretty much see some variation in that of all of my family photos-ha!  I know the time will come when my boys will refuse to cooperate, but for now I will press on.  


Remember the shoes.  I like to give my clients both wide shots as well as portraits so your feet will be in the photos. 


Looking for more inspiration?  Here is a link to my Pinterst board that I put together for wardrobe and color choice ideas.  Need more help?  I am happy to put together a customized (I'll ask you a few questions) style board for my clients at no extra charge.  Just ask and you shall receive.  


Carrie Howland Photography is a family, maternity and newborn photographer based in Huntersville, NC and serving the greater Charlotte, NC area.  Specializing in fine art portraiture and use of light, Carrie transforms family photos into art.

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