Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thoughts on Clothing for Family Portraits

1. A color scheme is the first priority with group portraiture. There is not one color scheme that is the best and only possibility. Take a look at the room in which the main portrait will hang and select colors that will harmonize with that room. You don't want a portrait over the mantle that clashes with the room! Here are some ideas.
• Dress everyone in one family of colors. For example, light to medium blues (like denim) work well with many decors, compliment any skin tone, and are easy to find in most closets. White or pastels can be wonderful, particularly at the beach or with a lighter background.
• If you are challenged getting everyone to agree on one family of colors, try for muted tones, like blues, grays, and browns.
• With large family groups, consider separating sub-family groups by color. This works best if clothing styles match closely. (For example, everyone wears blue jeans and each sub-family group wears a different colored shirt or sweater.)
2. Solid colors are best. They help draw attention to faces, not clothing. Muted patterns can work if they blend with other clothing. However, please try to avoid bright red and fluorescent colors.
3. Casual clothing, such as slacks and sweaters, provides opportunity for a variety of poses. I often ask families with children and young adults to sit on the ground or floor so be thinking about that before you consider a short skirt. You see a lot of blue jeans in the samples because that resonates with much of my clientele here in the laid back Pacific Northwest. That does not mean that jeans are the only or best choice.
4. Three quarter length or longer sleeves are preferable, because they create a flowing line. A short sleeve interrupts the flow with a horizontal line across the body.
5. Dark colors are slimming! It is true. If you want to look your skinniest, wear dark colors, like black or navy, with little or no contrast between top and bottom.
6. Avoid glasses on outdoor portraits, particularly photogrey! Your optometrist may be able to loan you empty frames or show you how to temporarily remove your lenses.
7. Make sure that the adult women in the group are wearing clothes that they feel good about how they look. If you choose an outfit because it harmonizes with the group but is unflattering, you will never be happy with the portrait. This ONLY applies to the moms in the group. The men and children may complain if they don't like what you choose for them but they will get over it. A woman will never be happy with the portrait if she thinks it is unflattering. I can say this because I AM a woman and know exactly what it feels like!