Guest Post: What to wear for your family photos

I would like to introduce my very first guest blog post, yeah I'm getting fancy! My good friend Andrea was nice enough to share some tips for dressing your family for your next photo session. Hi there, I'm Andrea from Four Flights of Fancy, a lifestyle blog where I write about my favorite things, including food, fashion and of course family.  I was so excited when Miranda asked me to guest post about choosing outfits for family pictures because I feel like in the last year or so I've finally figured out what works for my family, and I hope some of my tips will in turn help you.

Miranda is the real expert on photography trends, but it seems like in the last couple of years the trend has really swung away from black and whites and more towards color prints for family portraits, which makes me really excited.  It means more room to have fun with your wardrobe choices!  The first couple of years we took family portraits, we only took black and whites which left me a little perplexed as to what to wear.  Let's look at a couple of pictures and see some examples of what not to wear.

For some reason this year I thought matching striped sweaters would be just perfect for the girls and matching vests for the boys.  For the most part this is a decent family photo right?  And most people would think it's a cute enough picture, but to me, all I can focus on are those darned striped sweaters Taylor and I are wearing.  They just blare out to me and I have to look at this portrait hanging on the wall every time I walk down the hall and all I think is "why did I think matching striped sweaters were a good idea?"

Lesson learned here, wear outfits that you can bare to stare at for the next 10 years and that you'll get use out of after your portraits.  Something too bold, too matchy-matchy, or too busy will just distract you for years to come.  And by the way, none of us ever wore those sweaters or vests again, which was sadly such a waste.

So the next year I decided to tone it down a bit and since we were doing black and whites again, of course I thought it would be a great idea to dress us in black and white.  I remember this year thinking how simple it would be to find just black and white dresses/shirts for all of us.  Instead of making us stand out instead of our clothes, all I did was have us look like blocks of black and white.  The steep contrast between the 2 white shirts my husband and son are wearing, flanked by me and my daughter in black on the outside does nothing but draw attention to our clothes.  Now I know I'm being a bit hyper critical here, but I think we all tend to over-analyze something as important as a family portrait.  No one else may really notice these things, but I certainly do and you probably will too.
Lesson learned here, wear colors, even for black and white portraits, that will blend together seamlessly and aren't on polar opposite ends of the color spectrum.  We would have been much better served here wearing shades of gray, black and white as opposed to just black and white.

So last year we started experimenting with color and I don't think I'll ever go back now.  Color portraits and lots of color and/or patterns in our outfits.  What I did when planning for this shoot was work everything off of my blouse that I already owned and I loved so much.  We chose a plaid shirt for my husband in a similar shade of orange, and he's gotten a lot of use out of that shirt too.  Next I chose simple thermal shirts for the kids in pops of orange and aqua and paired all our tops back to denim of some sort.  The orange leggings my daughter wore under her dress add a fun tie-in as well.

Lesson learned here, don't be afraid to mix prints, patterns and have fun with colors.  When choosing colors, pick 2-3 colors to mix up; anymore than that gets too distracting.

Last year Miranda took another set of photos for us set against a simple white background for a look we'd never done before.  I wanted the photos to reflect the warmth and cozyness of winter so my son and I both wore super cozy, complimentary (not matching!) knit sweaters.  I paired mine with a plaid shirt underneath, which complimented my husband's.  And my daughter wore a sparkly fox shirt in a shade of taupe, which blended in with the color palette, but didn't clash or look too matchy-matchy.  The only thing I might have done differently if I were to re-shoot this is for my son and I to not wear the same color of sweater.  Perhaps dressed him in chocolate brown or gray even.

Lesson learned here, have everyone dress in the similar fabrics, styles and colors of the season.  It's okay to mix and match different textures and fabrics as long as they all blend in together and reflect the same mood or season.  The knit and cotton work together here because they all reflect fall or winter.  Had my husband been wearing for example a linen shirt, the whole balance of the textures would have been thrown off because linen is typically a summer weight fabric.  In addition, had my daughter been wearing a short sleeve or tank top, it would have looked strange since my son and I were wearing heavy knit sweaters.  You would look at this picture and question whether it's winter or spring time.

I hope you've found these tips helpful and useful for planning your family's wardrobe for your next portrait session.  If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.  Thanks Miranda for having me!