What to wear for family portraits | Mesa, AZ family photographer


Gone are the days when white shirts and khaki’s are what make a great family photo. And yes, we have one of those. Wanna see? 🙂 (sorry, it’s a picture of a picture so it looks awful)

Mesa, AZ family photographer, Sally Whetten Photography, arizona baby photographer

That also means not having all black shirts and jeans, too. Or any one solid color shirt and matching pants. Big no, no. So what CAN you wear for a family photo if having everyone matchy-matchy doesn’t look so good?

There are many articles about this online, so I don’t want to re-invent the wheel here, but I will give a few of my favorite tips for choosing outfits for family pictures.

1. Consider where you are going to be displaying your photo. If your family photo is going to be a focal point in your decor, and I sincerely hope it is, you must consider the color scheme of the room decor. If your house is decorated in light aqua and white, don’t go for a red and black plaid theme for your picture, even if it IS Christmas. It will look out of place for the rest of the year, so that is something to think about.

2. Being the mom, I am always the one to pick everyone else’s clothes out and then run out of time to get something nice for me to wear. This only makes me want to hide in the back of the picture and feel uncomfortable. So Mom’s–pick your clothes first! If not first, at least don’t leave yourself for last. Make sure you feel pretty and comfortable in what you are wearing.

3. A big rule for our photos is NO LOGOS. Logos are often distracting and quickly outdated. Go classic. Choose pattern, color, and texture but nothing too flashy or wordy.

4. I like to find a piece of clothing for one family member that has the color scheme I want to go with and then pull the colors out of that. For example, in this picture I found my youngest son’s plaid shirt and we used that as our color palette. Choosing 3 colors is a great way to get variety and not too much matching going on. Don’t count the neutrals in that number. The blue jeans, black pants, khaki’s or whatever else. And you can mix a couple neutrals, too. In fact, I suggest it. The only thing is that with jeans try to make sure everyone has a similar wash. Otherwise it can look a little too random.

family 2010

5. Accessories are your friend. Scarves, jewelry, hats, headbands, cool shoes, etc. add that extra oomph to family photos. It doesn’t have to be big and flashy, just a little somethin-somethin to make it special.

6. Here’s my biggest tip: do whatever you can to make sure everyone is in a good mood. When the family is happy, it will show in your photos. Likewise if they aren’t. We have a few pictures that we look back at and remember how irritated we were at the time. It is kind of funny now that time has passed, but it was miserable in the moment. Play a little bit, get the more posed pictures right away before the kids (and dads) lose interest. Maybe plan a treat for after so everyone has something to look forward to. Try bribing, I mean, rewarding kids with a little prize for doing their best for the pictures. Genuine smiles are definitely the best!

Mesa, AZ family photographer, Sally Whetten Photography, arizona baby photographer

One more piece of advice; when you print your family photo, go BIG. For SURE don’t go smaller than 11 by 14, and I would only go that small if you have a gorgeous big frame to put it in. Bigger, in this case, is much better. It is an investment that will make you smile every single day. Don’t we need all the happy thoughts we can get these days?

Have fun with your family photos, and don’t put off taking it. And then don’t put off PRINTING it!  Our family has the tradition of getting a family picture every year and I have them all up in one display. It is the most loved wall in our house by everyone who comes over! What I do is print out our current yearly picture on a largeish canvas (16×20) and put it in a display upstairs. A small copy then goes into a frame in the grouping downstairs that has a picture from every year we have been a family. We are currently at 21! Here’s a peek at our family wall (toys and all–hey, it’s a family room what do you expect, haha):

Sally Whetten Photography

**OK one last, LAST thing. If you have the opportunity to take a family photo and that chance doesn’t come around very often, just DO IT. No matter what you all are wearing. You can turn it into a great black and white and no one will know that you all had different colors on. Getting the picture is the most important thing. (can you tell I’m a family photo fanatic? 🙂  Happy Snapping!

Want to read more about choosing your clothes for family pics? Here are a couple of my favorite blog articles about the subject:

Kristin Duke

Dating Divas

Do you have your outfits together and are ready for family photos? I am booked up for the rest of 2015, so contact me now to reserve your portrait session for 2016! If you need a Mesa, AZ family photographer hit that contact button above and we can chat.

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