Dressing For Success - Part 1

January 08, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

photography wardrobe examplesDress for Success

What to wear, what to wear...?  The age old question that has, no doubt, caused much debate among family members when preparing for the big day when the crew will be front and center, ready to be immortalized in portrait majesty.  This is a very important element in the experience as a whole.  You are, more than likely, paying a substantial sum of money to engage the talents of a professional to bring out the best of your family's beauty.  Any pro worth their salt will help guide you through this part of the process.  My advice is to listen to your photographer.  A professional is not simply someone with an awesome camera.  We spend hundreds of hours each year studying light, angles, composition, color, psychology and how to make them all work in harmony to create a beautiful image.  I certainly don't mean to suggest that you don't know how to dress yourself.  On the contrary.  The vast majority of my clients show up on session day looking amazing.  But, consider this...do you look amazing as a group?  Your sixteen-year-old daughter looks like a super model, but does her look work in harmony with dad's business casual look or little bro's trendy hoodie?  It's not as straightforward as you might think, but neither is it a complicated process.

Each decade and era has its own very uniquely regrettable, albeit humorous, family photos that make us cringe and our friends suppress laughter each time we break out the family album.  Matching outfits.  Themes.  Crazy teenagers.  Shoulder pads.  Mom jeans.  Gravity defying hair.  Fashion trends that crashed and burned six months after the photo session.  Hats...enough with the hats, already!  Your loved ones want to see the real YOU, not your ever-evolving wardrobe.  You are not a group of mannequins in the window of Abercrombie and Fitch.  You are not a clothes rack.  Your clothes are an accent, not the language.  Use your wardrobe to express and enhance the real you.  Don't let it constrict or define you.

Let's talk color in group imagery.  What should you consider when planning the group look?  What season is it?  Fall, winter, spring, summer; it's important to reflect the season.  This doesn't mean you put everyone in red and green for the Christmas picture.  Think in terms of the mood of seasonal colors.  Muted browns, oranges, and reds in autumn.  Light and breezy pinks, greens, and off-whites in the spring.  Think outside the box a little, too.  Instead of wearing a lot of red for a fall or winter session, how about a neutral gray with a burgundy scarf?  Think about skin tone.  If your little toddler is very fair-skinned you probably want to avoid dressing them in white.  Muted pastels with a little pop of color is always a good choice.  Solid colors with accessories and accents...good!  Neon or unnaturally bright colors...photographic death.  Jewel tones and bold patterns that stand alone...good!  Pinstripes, tiny patterns, too much jewelry and accessorizing...not so much.  Like everything else in life, keep it simple and everything in moderation.  Classic will always be classy.  Trendy will always be like seeing a video of someone walking into a sliding glass door.  You feel really bad for the person, but you can't stop yourself from laughing.  And in the end, the person laughs at themselves, too.

The key to a great family portrait is flow.  From composition to color, it's important to be cohesive.  You don't have to "match".  In fact, I strongly discourage the matchy-matchy look when I consult families.  Instead, select a base or common color scheme and be creative with it.  Tie it all in with subtlety and you don't have to match to create a beautiful flow.  Most importantly, enjoy the experience.  They are your family, after all, and there must be a reason you want your picture taken with them.

Next time...ladies, that will be just for you!  Mamas, wives, girlfriends, daughters, sisters...how much fun is it getting those boys ready for picture day???  Right...?

Until next time, find your joy.  Creating beautiful images for you is mine!




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