One of the most asked questions about a family photography session is “what should we wear?”  There’s a lot of advice out there, some of which is totally conflicting, so I’ve pulled together 7 years of experience to give you my top 5 tips for choosing what your family could wear for your photography session.

  • Keep it simple: pick 2 colours, that everyone might have in their wardrobe- blue and beige for example, browns and pinks might be another,  Red is bold and goes well with blues or beiges.  This works really well if there’s a big family or many generations.  The more people in the shot, the more harmonious the effect by wearing similar colours.  Unifying colours really pulls a group together.Photographer Banstead, Phographer Coulsdon

In the above photo, the different shades of blue tone together perfectly, to look harmonious without being matchy, matchy.  The effect is relaxed and natural.  It’s softened further with a little beige and white which acts as a highlight to break up the blue.  The result looks effortless and subtle.

Photographer Riegate, Photographer SurreyBlue and white features here too- this time a combination of pattern and solid takes it towards relaxed.

Photographer Reigate, Photographer SurreyHere different shades of pink create a lovely coordinating effect, with the white t shirt and checks of the shirt keeping the overall look modern.  The bright pink works really well to balance the lovely yellows in the field

Photographer Reigate, Photographer Surrey The children here are wearing totally different clothes but the colours of the flower pattern and the checks are the same, and it looks great.

Photographer Ewell, Photographer SurreyIn  this winter photograph, the blues are vibrant, and in this case the second colour is really the green of the grass which balances it well.

  • Avoid logos, branding and tiny patterns or prints: logos and brands date and take a photograph away from timeless and classic to ‘of a time’.  It’s quite hard to coordinate with a Teenage Ninja t-shirt!  Small branding like tiny logos on polo shirts are fine, but a Nike Swoosh across the front of a shirt makes the shoot about fashion and less about you.

Now there is an exception to this and that is that younger children can be very attached to certain items of clothing (I remember my youngest would not go out unless she was wearing her Belle princess dress-lasted for a month).  It is not worth having an uncooperative little one if they can’t wear their favourite Disney top, so my advice would be to let them wear it and bring the other clothes to the session and we’ll make sure they get lovely Disney shots first before they change, so  they feel listened to.  Make the second outfit a favourite and easy to change into.

Of course there is a very valid point that family photography is all about capturing your family as it is at a certain point in time, and if your children are wearing Marvel as a second skin, then that is this stage of life- it won’t last forever and when it’s gone you’ll wish it hadn’t.  I’m sure some of you would love those moments captured forever- so enjoy the Disney/Marvel months.

 

  • Use accessories to add a variety and a pop:  scarves, cardigans, chunky jewelry and jackets are a really easy way of adding an extra colour without being distracting and are easy to add to change a look very quickly.  They can also be used to bring a brighter colour into the mix without being overpowering.  Not everyone needs to be adding pop, a little sprinkle goes a long way.

I love the way this family have chosen their colours, with the beiges and blues and the clever use of a different pinks scattered throughout.  Looking good!

 

  • Consider a clothes change:  Can’t decide which outfit to wear? Want casual and more formal? Why not bring a change of clothes? It’ll give you more options for variety- in fact it’s really two sessions in one!  Not every location is suitable for this, but if you’re having your family photography session here on our Surrey farm, there’s a chance to change outfits during a break.

Here are a couple of great examples of an outfit change.  Photographer Surrey, Photographer TadworthThese lovely twins had fun denim dresses on for casual playing in the woods and fields, then a complete change to pale pink and beige for some family portraits.

And here we have relaxed jeans and tops for a laid-back feel, and then a quick change into dresses for a more formal portrait.

 

  • Wear comfortable footwear: Wherever you have your session you will be on the go for at least and hour, so it’s important to choose footwear you can last in and that is suitable for the ground conditions. Uncomfortable shoes, or worrying about spoiling them will make the session less relaxed and more like a chore- and that will affect expression and body language.  So if in doubt bring alternatives and choose once you’ve arrived.

Now I know I said 5 tips, but it’s really 6, and this is the most important

  • Whatever you wear, be comfortable and be yourselves: If you feel comfy in jeans and shorts, wear jeans and shorts.  If you prefer more dressy look- go for it.  This is your photography for your family and it should be you in the photographs- not someone else’s idea of what the right thing is.  It’s wonderful to have the session and you’ll really enjoy the photographs now- but in 5, 15, 25 years from now, the photos from your family session will be even more valuable.  In 25 years, you won’t be looking at the clothes.  You’ll be looking at the most precious people in your life and the warmth, love and relationships that you see in those photographs will be the most precious thing.Photographer Reigate, Photographer Surrey