Best Outfits for a Family Photo Shoot

Wondering what to wear for a family photo? Local photographers discuss how to choose outfits that complement one another and result in nice family photos.

Your Facebook wall might be packed full of photos, but what about the walls in your house? If your family is due for a professional photo shoot, but you aren’t quite sure what the best outfits for a family photo shoot actually are, look no further. We chatted with Mary Kerkes, owner of Image 33 Photography in Ann Arbor and Lisa Marie, owner of Baby Love Photography in Royal Oak, to get a photographer’s prospective on what to wear for a family photo, and how to add accessories and pops of color to give your family’s photos just the right amount of pizzazz.

Consider the location

Keep in mind the setting of your photo shoot and pick your clothing accordingly. “If we are going to shoot in front of a farm, you don’t want to be in your Sunday best,” Kerkes says. Instead, she recommends clothing that will fit in with the scene where you are shooting. So, if you are outside during the fall, pick a pair of jeans and an oversized sweater over that springtime Easter dress hanging in the closet.

Pick a neutral base

“There should be a common theme color,” Kerkes explains. “I usually have them pick a base color like, gray or white.” She recommends families choose a neutral as the base color that will really tie the group of people together, though not everyone needs to be wearing the base color. Light browns will work, so will grays and whites. Black can be used too, but be aware that if done incorrectly, the results can be harsher than you might like.

Add some color

After you’ve chosen your base color, it’s time to choose two colors to go with it. Kerkes recommends softer colors over primary colors because they make for softer pictures. “I would never suggest having, say, a plain yellow,” she says. “I would say mustard yellow.” Bring these complementary colors in with the use of accessories. “You don’t want big blocks of these colors, you want the (base) to be dominant and the other colors to be there in splashes,” she says.

Make sure it fits

A lot of times, Marie’s clients will want to include something grandma made for baby in her photo shoots. While she is always open to props with meaning to the family, she warns against using hats or outfits that are too big for baby and cannot be adjusted to look as though they fit. “If you’re going to choose an outfit, make sure that it fits because a lot of newborn clothing doesn’t fit all that well,” she says. Babies dressed in outfits too large for them could get lost in the clothing. She adds that skin on skin contact in infant shoots can result in beautiful photos.

Be comfortable

If you’re uncomfortable in what you are wearing, it is likely to translate in your photos, Marie explains. “I tell my clients to dress in their own personal style,” she says. “If you feel confident in what you are wearing, that will translate to beauty in the photograph.” Though she personally likes a classic look, Marie recommends that trendy couples rock their trendy styles and those that like the classic look should stick with what they love.

Solids over print

Both of these ladies prefer solid outfits to a photo packed with prints because too many prints tend to clash with one another. “A lot of times, if you have too many different patterns going on it’s going to take away from the newborn,” Marie says. “One pattern is fine, but not multiple in one photo.” Kerkes adds that wearing plaid can make for a nice photo, but not on all the kids and not in primary colors.

Logos are a no-no

“I avoid logos at all costs,” Kerkes says. While a printed flower on a little girls dress can match mom’s scarf and add to a photo, the Nike swoosh logo, for example, can take away from it, she explains. “The eye is drawn to (the logo), the mind thinks about that product and you lose what you are looking at,” she says. She doesn’t recommend cartoon drawings or graphics on clothing either, unless the shoot is stylized and the graphic fits in with the theme.

Mix and match

Kerkes advises against dressing all your kids the same, but does recommend that all the men’s pants match. “Everyone should have jeans on, or everyone should have khakis on,” she says. “You could do a jean and a pair of shorts, but no khaki pants and jeans.” Add some layers or great accessories, like a fedora, skull cap or chunky necklace, to really complete your family’s look.

Keep makeup to a minimum

Though you might feel the need to cake on the makeup for your photo shoot, Kerkes says that there should be no makeup on the kids and only a light foundation and a bit of eye makeup on mom, if she likes. “I can fix imperfections in Photoshop,” Kerkes says.


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