How about my birthday suit? – A guide on What to Wear.

Often I get asked “What in the world should I dress my family in for our portrait session?” After squashing the urge to respond with “clothes, duh!” I advise them to consider a few things.

First, where will your portrait session be taking place? A natural or rustic location? Urban? This can be a good starting point for the type of feel you are looking for in your portraits.

Next, are you planning on using the portraits for a specific occasion? If you’re getting pictures taken for Christmas cards or perhaps you are wanting to hang a large portrait above the fireplace, etc., those plans might determine how dressy or casual you want the outfits to be.  This may also play a part in the color theme you choose to go with. If you’re wanting to hang a large portrait from the session over the fireplace in your home, using colors that coordinate (or at least don’t clash) with your decor would be something to think about (if you’re into the whole coordination thing!)

Now that I’ve got you thinking about the occasion (or non-occasion), what colors look best on your family? If the mere thought of chartreuse gives you hives, it probably would be best to dress your family in a color that you find more soothing. Hives, in combination with family portraits aren’t an enjoyable combo (although, they can be Photoshopped out! Hooray!) Once you’ve come up with a color (or two, maybe three), try to incorporate them into each outfit. Try not to make everyone matchy-matchy. Coordinating, not identical. Another good way is to pick one piece (baby girls’ dress, for example) and pick colors from it to plan the rest of the family’s outfits around.

Last, and most importantly, what is the personality of your family? Sarcastic and silly? Perfect, we’ll get along well… but that doesn’t help with choosing outfits, does it? Is your family casual, dressy, sporty or trendy? Work with that! Jeans & t-shirt kind of kids might not be thrilled to wear formal wear, but could probably be cajoled into wearing a polo or skirt (even if it means the shirt has to be un-tucked and the skirt is accompanied by sneakers.)  Being comfortable is hands down the number one the most important thing to keep in mind, and will show through in your portraits.

Lets recap:

-General feel for portraits (factoring in personality, occasion, location)
-Color or theme (seasonal or around one piece)

Is your head spinning from all I threw at you? Hang tight, because I’ve got more for you. In addition to these pointers, today marks the first installment of a new feature on the Katie Hice Photography blog… I’m calling it… “What to Wear?” I’ll be incorporating the above wardrobe tips & posting “style boards”, like you’ll find below, as inspiration for portrait sessions.

(click for a larger view)

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts!  Leave me a comment! 🙂

About Katie Hice Photography

Katie Hice is a natural light, on-location, lifestyle photographer located in Salem, Oregon. Specializing in family, children, maternity, newborn, senior, engagement and boudoir portraits. Willing to travel the Willamette Valley and beyond.

Posted on July 18, 2011, in What to wear and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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