Plaid Is Not a Neutral ~ What to Wear at your Portrait Session

Never wear anything that panics the cat.
-PJ O’Rourke

So you’ve made the decision to pull together the whole family for one big photo session. You’ve wrangled the hubby and your teens, tweens and toddlers, and now Grandma and Grandpa have asked to join in. You thought setting the date was challenging with syncing everybody’s schedules, but now you’ve got to figure out what to wear.

You’d like to create a beautiful and timeless family portrait and you know that finding the right colors and clothing that will flatter all ages and shapes is important. In order to help ease you into what should be a fun and engaging family time, I’ve listed a few hints on what to wear (and what not to wear) that will tell your loving story.

Roses are Red, Denim is Blue

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For years, white tops and blue jeans were all the rage, but not any longer. Now, pairing blue jeans and simple solid-colored tops are popular for that casual, “We dress like this all the time” look. Denim comes in a variety of shades and styles, so make sure to mix it up with pants, dresses, and jackets that play to each person’s body shape.

Color photos featuring jeans and tees work well, but if you choose the blues, pay attention to the hues. In black and white, everything will be a shade of black and grey, and these types of photos display denim particularly well.

 

Though your teen may like neon colors, tell Junior to leave the fluorescent yellow tee in his drawer. Neutrals and coordinating colors are best when working with more than one person in a portrait.

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White is Outta Sight

While all-white outfits may seem like a good idea and are very popular (thank you Claire from Modern Family) the color white is not always the best to capture in a photograph. Very pale pastels and whites can make you appear washed out, unless you’re rocking a Southern California spray tan.  When wearing a white top, because our eyes notice white first, you’ll see your blouse and then think, ”Oh that blouse has a face.” We want you to see your face first.  If you want to wear that extra special white outfit, I can compensate by using different backgrounds and lighting techniques.

Polka Dots, Paisleys and Prints. Oh My!

Colorful prints are so much fun to wear. The selection is mind-blowingly endless, and the blaze of colors help you stand out in a crowd. My suggestion, though, is to keep busy patterns to a minimum. Wild prints tend to draw the eye. One print may create visual interest, but two is a crazy party. The focus should be on your faces and not on summer prints and Grandma’s garden blouse.

Here is a spontaneous family portrait at a reunion:

too many prints

A Family of Twins

Matchy-matchy is now a no-no in the photography world. A very good rule of thumb to follow is: No mini-me’s. Matching outfits are not only totally ’70s but are sure to land you on the awkwardly family photo website.

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Allow your kids to be kids and let them rock what they’re comfortable wearing (of course, within reason). When they wear clothes they like, rather than a suit and tie with a starched white shirt, their enthusiasm will shine right through the lens and you’ll capture happy-happy kiddos. A proper suit may be appropriate for office wear, but not for a family-fun photo.

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To reiterate, color coordination is your aim. Solids are the best. Basic black, grays, deep purple, and navy all work well with jeans and slacks alike.

 The Long Sleeves Rule

When dressing for your studio session, avoid no-sleeve and short-sleeved clothing, and short pants. My mantra is, with long, you can’t go wrong. Three-quarter length sleeves work well, too.  Even in casual portraits long pants trump shorts. Every. Single. Time.

Exposed arms and legs are a major fleshy distraction to the visual storytelling we do with portraits. Do you want friends and family commenting on your large biceps (girls, please) skinny white legs (got you, mister) or your beautiful face? I thought so. Leave certain things to the imagination, and remember, pictures are a forever thang.

Accessories: Dress for Success, Not Excess

Jewelry, hats, scarfs and the like should be strategically used to compliment and not overwhelm. Less is more, if you get my drift.

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Keep comfort first. If your family is dressed comfortably, they will act more naturally during the photo session. By focusing on styles that look best on each family member, everyone will confidently enjoy the process and the portraits will shine.

See you in the studio!

 

“I capture personalities in Portraits.”  ~ Donna Edman

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I am a Southern California based Portrait, Commercial and Fine Art Photographer who sees the world a bit differently.

You can view more of my work here > Donna Edman Photography.
If you’d like to book a session, I’d be honored > Contact Me.

Together, we can Capture YOUR Life, One Image at a Time!

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