This choice can make or break the final picture and needs to be a high priority. But the rules change depending on who is getting their pictures taken.
For a high school senior photo session or individual child, we want clothes that flatter them and that they love. We also want something that will look good hung in your home. What they wear is unimportant as long as they love it, mom and dad love it (or at least approve) and it looks good on them.
But for a family photo session, and especially in an extended family, it's Essential to coordinate as a group. If you are an individual, you dress a coordinated outfit. But, when doing a family photo session, we are not taking a picture of 7 individuals, but on 1 family. That's how it will look visually, so to keep that united feel, it's important to choose the whole wardrobe of everyone as one individual outfit. This is challenging when you have quite a few people participating, especially if any live out of town.
Welker Photography offers a clothing consultation as part of our service. We find out what your personality style is. Will you be formal, relaxed, somewhere in between? Did you wear red and yellow in your last portrait? To keep things focused, we emphasize the final goal. If you want one large wall portrait over the sofa or fireplace, then we want to coordinate with the color and style of the room. Then, your art will not only be personal and priceless, but it will also be beautiful decor.
Here's an example:
For this particular family, there will be 3 men, 4 women and 4 young children. If they all come in with matching shirts, it looks silly. People don't really dress that way and it's the first thing you notice when you see the picture. The response isn't: "oh you look so beautiful," but "oh you were all matching!" It's distracting. And if each person wears and nice outfit, it can clash. A lot.
The best way to handle wardrobe is to create a color scheme - in this case, we chose 5 colors in the parent's home that will coordinate with their home. They initiated and hired me, so we want to create something beautiful for them. Then, we recommend that family members wear colors from those selected. By spreading the accent colors around the group, it gives the final portrait a cohesive look without drawing attention away from the family.
The individual outfits people might never chose to wear. But, the sum total looks great on the group. And since this is not a picture of individuals, we want to create that cohesive and together feeling that emphasizes the closeness and love in the family. Staying close to the chosen colors is crucial, especial when we have multi generation photos and have clothing coming from different homes. When people are in the same home, I recommend laying all the clothes out on a couch in the room you will display your portrait. It makes choosing so much easier! Since extended families can't do that, it makes it even more important to stick to the chosen colors.
Most clients won't go out and buy new clothes. The purpose of this illustration is to educate and inspire them to make cohesive choices with what they already have. Not everything has to be solid colors, but high contrast, bold patterns, plaids and loud stripes should be avoided - like the plague. And be careful to not introduce other colors into the mix. At the very bottom there's an illustration of what it looks like if you do break the rules. Last, consider what the photographer recommends. For instance, these photos will be taken on a white porch. If the kids wear white or cream, their clothing will not stand out from the porch and they will be camouflaged. We want the subjects to be the important part of the picture. The right clothing makes that perfect, or draws attention away from the family. Choose wisely and have fun!
If you still aren't sure what to wear, talk to your photographer. What looks good on the couch, may not read well on camera. In a worst case scenario, bring a second set of clothes in a similar color pattern, so items can be swapped out at the suggestion of the photographer.
Good luck and have a great photo session!