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Style guide

Let’s admit it. Choosing what to wear for a photoshoot can be very stressful. Your choice can be the difference between a very successful photograph and just another picture. I hope this guide will help you find that perfect outfit (or a family of outfits) easily. You don’t need to go out and buy new outfits. I can guarantee you there is already something in your wardrobe. If all fails, ask me as I have started to put together a client’s wardrobe. And last but not least, if you do not care about clothing, or what you look like and just want to be comfortable, feel free to stop reading now and wear whatever takes your fancy. You don’t need to be a fashionista. You don’t need to be an ‘it’ girl. You just need to put some thought and care into it! 

 

Location

The first step in planning any outfit is to consider the location. The environment and season will guide the colour palette, styles, and overall feel of the session. A flower garden or field of wildflowers is great for neutral, romantic attire, whereas bold colours are wonderful on a cloudy autumn day. Have your location and time of year in mind as you are reading through the rest of the guide.

Portrait photography
Portrait photography

Tonality

Choose a colour palette of 3-4 colours. Think in terms of tones: blue tones, earth tones, neutrals, pastels, etc. Everyone in the family can express their own sense of style within the chosen colour palette, and the whole group will coordinate beautifully. 

When you are deciding what to wear, don’t match, coordinate! For example, start with one outfit, let’s say the youngest or a statement outfit with a few colours in it, and use that to work out outfits for everyone else. Layering can help with tying in all the colours.

Check out my Pinterest board for possible colour palettes here

Colour

I love using the colour wheel deciding what clothes will look good in a chosen photography location and the colours available there. There are many ways to use the colour wheel when deciding what to wear for photos. You can use complementary colours (those on opposite sides of the wheel), triad (three colours equally spaced from each other), Analogous colours (adjacent to or near each other on the colour wheel to produce an aesthetically pleasing and calming effect).

 

If the photoshoot is taking place in a beautiful environment, chose clothing that is simple so that it’s not taking away from the beautiful surroundings. At the same time, we want you to stand out from the background and therefore complementary colours would go well there. 

 

Make sure the youngest doesn’t wear the same colour as mom and dad. The baby of the family is most likely going to be picked up by either parent at some point during the session. Make sure his/her outfit contrasts nicely with mom’s and dad’s clothing. 

If you are struggling to find the right outfits, go for neutrals and any combination of cream, grey, khaki and tan. It is pretty hard to mess that up and looks good in almost every setting, especially dried-grass fields which are readily available in Autumn. The key here is a variety of layers and textures to keep outfits from looking too similar or bland. 

 

Keeping it simple and clean will bring the focus to the emotion and connection of the family. Subdued colours, muted tones and solids work well for that. When picking patterns, choose smaller ones that won’t pull attention away from the main subjects, and only put one person in a pattern. When thinking about texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest such as lace, corduroy, denim, and knits.

Portrait photography
Portrait photography
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Monochromatic approach is, perhaps, less popular but equally as striking. It is fresh and timeless. Dressing to match your location puts the focus on the face and the person, not the outfit.

Portrait photography
Portrait photography
Portrait photography
Portrait photography

Footwear

If you’re not the type of family who likes being barefoot, be sure to keep your footwear in mind. Nothing will throw your look off more than a ratty old pair of shoes. 

Movement

I love movement and playful behaviour. A mum in a short skirt and high heels is less likely to play wildly with her kids or get messy so think about being comfortable first. What you want to remember in 10 or 20 years isn’t how talented you were at styling your kids but how happy you were together as a family. Pick the clothes that will let you run freely and be blissfully carefree! If you love to wear jeans, don’t look further. They are comfortable AND photogenic, now you only need to find cute tops.

If you have longer hair, consider leaving it down to showcase movement

Accessories

Please do accessorize, but less is more! Hats frame the face, protect the eyes from squinting in full sun, and overall are just fun, fun, fun! Belts, scarves, socks and jewellery can add colour, texture and complete the outfit. Even shoes can really help support a story. Patterned or colourful rain boots for a rainy day, cowboy boots to pair with a feminine dress for that awesome prairie girl look, motorcycle boots to amp up a street casual look, boating shoes to lend that extra dose of preppiness — the possibilities are endless! 

Portrait photography

don'ts

I hate to be negative but some of these no's can really break a picture

NO LOGOS

NO NEON COLOURS

NO MATCHING

NO TRAINERS

And last but not least, lay everything out together on the ground and see how it looks. I would encourage you to send a picture to make sure everything looks great together. Trust your gut – if something feels a little off, it probably is. Once it feels like you’ve got it, set the outfits aside and forget about them until your session or you could drive yourself a little crazy. 

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