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What to wear for family portraits

'Tis the Season...Already?

Sending out personalized holiday cards is a great way to show your extended friends and family how your own family has grown since they last visited. (In my case, one of them grows about half and inch a month!)

There are a few things to think about when planning your photo shoot. Finding a photographer that suits your needs and schedule is very important. Would you rather go to a studio or have the photographer come to your house?

I cater to busy families who very often have young children and full schedules. They don't have the time to truck everyone to a studio and keep their clothes and hair in decent shape on the ride there. When I quote a portrait session, I let the customer know that I am completely mobile and go to their house or a nearby location that will fit with their theme. If the weather turns out to be less than optimum on the day of the shoot, I simply pull out my mobile backdrops and use those.

If you wonder how I can set this up without frustrating the customer, it's very simple. I use simple light stands, portable studio strobes and speedlites. (Speedlites are the flashes that are usually used on top of the camera, as opposed to the ones that plug into a wall in a studio setting.)

This family shot was set up in less than 10 minutes in the middle of a field, using a tripod, 3 speedlites and a wireless trigger release.

When you look at this image, what catches your eye? The blue sky? The shades? Or the fact that the clothing is distracting? See how this photo could have been just a little more pleasing by following some of the suggestions below:

· wear solid coloured clothing so that I see all of your faces and no one person stands out. If you wear stripes or flowers, you will stand out from the rest of your group.

· choose muted tones that are a bit subdued so that you are the subject not your clothes and you don’t stand out from the group. Bright colours project: (especially reds, oranges, and yellows), which also makes you look larger.

· choose similar tones for your top and bottom (either both dark or both light) so that one doesn’t look bigger than the other. White top, dark pants will make your top look bigger. White pants and a dark top will make your butt look bigger.

· choose 1-3 colours for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that colour palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark tones. Or tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones. These colours help us see the people first, before the clothing and your portrait looks stunning. (Wedding group photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colours and the people stand out!)

· choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow because your arms take up more skin area than your face and will draw attention and it may also make your arms look larger

· choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies so that your legs don’t take attention from your faces and you will be able to sit and bend without showing too much leg

· choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach) because white just sticks out like a sore thumb and that’s all you’ll notice in your portrait

· keep jewellery simple and minimalistic because too much draws attention from your face

· do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes – no fancy up dos with jeans, no pony tails with evening gowns, etc. Your portrait will be more timeless and represent more closely who you are, not just what you look like.

· if getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment a few days prior to your portrait session. Fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need it to grow out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before your portrait session

Most importantly, be yourselves! Have fun! This portrait will be around for a long time; it doesn't need to look painful!

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to visit my Facebook page.


Jeff / Prestige Photo, Niagara Wedding Photographer

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