When it comes to being a New Hampshire family photographer one of the biggest questions I face is OMG What Do I Wear?! Thus this post!
Coordinate but don't match.
When styling a photo session, I like to start out with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to have one "rock star" in the photo who carries a pattern in their outfit that that the rest of the groups clothing or accessories pulls from, while keeping the rest of the families outfits more simple. You can do this with a neutral and a few colorful brights, or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shape.
It's often easier to find the "center stage" pieces in girls and women's clothing, so I'll often start with the females and then pull color from their outfits to create a look for the boys and dads.
Think outside the box! Scarves, hats, flowers in the hair for girls, jewelry, sweaters, vests, jackets, ect. - all these things can take a ho-hum image and make it feel "complete." Don't let the accessories overwhelm the subject or the photo though. I believe that especially with sweet babies and toddlers that they don't need much in the way of "accessories" They are beautiful in their simple purity, and I want them to be the star of the show instead of making one's eye go straight to a giant headband as big as their head. I want the viewer to notice my subject and their personalities first. The accessories and clothing should just compliment them - not be center stage. Choose your accent colors and fill in outfits with those punches of color in accessories. For instance, if big sister's patterned dress have tones of aqua, coral and grey, have mom wear a coral headband and little brother in an aqua pair of converse and bow tie. Show off the kids and your unique personality with accessories!
This Brentwood, NH family session is a perfect example of working with accessories! Here mom chose a perfect scarf to tie together the red scheme without overdoing the bright color. The scarf is a great accessory and also a great layering piece, more on layering below
There are a few bonuses to using accessories well, as well as layers. One is that changing them up a bit throughout the session can give you multiple looks with out having to do many wardrobe changes. This can prove super helpful when it comes to having young children involved. They can also be something that the subject can interact with, a sassy little tip of the hat, holding the ends of a scarf while running and letting it billow behind you, grabbing the lapels of a husbands jacket while pulling him close for a kiss, all these little gestures and ways to interact can be made possible with styling choices.
Layers and textures
I absolutely love using multiple textures and layers, especially important when working with a color palette a bit on the neutral or softer side, with a subtle color pop here or there. When I say textures one of the ways to achieve this is with different clothing materials and accents - tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items smocking, ribbons, ruffles, ect. Also having different layers of clothing and accessories can add another dimension to the overall texture of the image.
This is actually my and my own family from this past mothers day and I can attest to the fact that it is not easy to pull together everyone's outfits so plan ahead too! ( That's your bonus tip!) I choose to go with a navy and brown scheme, the navy of my boots pair perfectly with my little ones jacket and my navy sweater with his pants, while my husbands shirt carries both of the colors in a bit more subtle fashion. The subtle tones in his shirt lend for less of an overwhelming blast of matchy matchy sheme.
And yes I choose to show you an outtake just to show you that all children are crazy and do not feel bad when yours runs amuck too! We will corral them and get those shots!
Think about subtle props that bled with the vibe of the session as well, but keep them simple and meaningful. A handful of flowers that are a natural, neutral color or that coordinate with color pops in the subjects clothing, a , vintage camera, a basket of apples.or the absolute best type of prop in something that is meaningful to the subject ( grandpas vintage camera, their favorite stuffed animal, a quilt made by a great grandmother, the family's beloved pet. ) But don't let the prop be an odd distraction - make sure it "makes sense" being in the photo and blends well with the whole vision you had in mind for the shoot.
This engagement photography session from a Newfields, New Hampshire family farm is a perfect example of prop incorporation. This tractor may not be the smallest of props but it could not have been any more perfect for this session and this couple. The tractor is an antique that belongs to the bride to be's family, and their wedding is to be held on this same property.
This Exeter, NH maternity session also has a great example where these mini pink shoes are the perfect addition to this maternity shot, and could also serve as a perfect way to announce the gender of the little one.
Please don't wear sneakers... unless we're talking about funky Converse that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo - not necessarily on the subject themselves, but rather match little sister's bright turquoise shoes to the sweater or scarf her mama is wearing. It ties everything together without looking to match-y match-y . And don't forget some funky socks to add another splash of color or personality if your overall look if the session is fun and bright.
This Exeter, New Hampshire mama could have very easily put this little man is some simple beat up sneakers but taking the time to find the perfect boat shoes really complete his look, and how adorable are they!
The aqua pop of these shoes at our Exeter, NH family mini session are so pop-y and wonderful! His shirt also happens to be a fabulous aqua color too! Simple perfect shoe choices.
How will the images be displayed?
Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly. For instance, if it's for Christmas cards you might want to dress in wintry, seasonal clothing. For a gallery canvas in the living room, think about coordinating with the colors and feel of your decor.
This is more of a personal choice, but I tend to choose clothing that is timeless, but whatever is your style, make sure your choices wont look terribly dated years from now ( or months in the case of some quickly passing trends). Personally I love to use softer or neutral tones ( with a pop of color here and there) and classic shapes, then add interest with accessories, layers and lots of interesting textures. I also happen to love bright and colorful as long as it's not obnoxious or distracting from the subject's personality and face. Of course, this is a personal choice and many families will choose to go all out in the latest trends, thinking of their clothing choices as a sort of time stamp in their images.
This Epping, New Hampshire family session was for a Christmas gift and Dad picked out this perfect red dress for her Christmas session, and the classic design of it is a perfect statement against the black backdrop, and this image will be classic Christmas for years to come. He also had this made into a stunning canvas for the little ones grandmother, a perfect holiday gift!
As a side note, look how perfect her shoes match with the gold sparkle in her dress, had they been a different color or even clean white sneakers, the look would have not been complete.
When shooting in wide open locations and it involves kiddos, I love to have some movement and flow in their clothing ans accessories. Little ones are fond of jumping, dancing and being wild. Nothing better than a twirly, whirly dress to accentuate all that beautiful movement and childhood innocence. Something as simple as a scarf trailing behind or a playful super hero cape can be fun for the boys.
Make sure that the children can move freely in their outfits and that they aren't going to be pulling and scratching at their new clothes, you want them happy and comfortable, not grouchy and miserable during the shoot! This means letting them have some input in what they wear. Kids who help dress themselves will not only be much happier campers when shooting time comes, but you'll let their beautiful personalities shine through in the images. Also, try not to make kids change outfits more than a couple times - another reason all those layers and accessories can be handy. The same goes for you - make sure that you select an outfit that makes you feel stunning and relaxed.
Patterns are good - in moderation!
Patterns can add visual interest and texture as well as a good dose of personality. Just make sure that either just one person is in a pattern with the rest of the subjects in simple, more solid color pieces or the patterns are subtle and complimentary. For instance, a teeny tiny polka dot tie on a little boy next to his sisters bold color blocked pattern can look very complimentary.
Big side not to remember, always avoid shirts with small stripes and super tight busy patterns, this can wreak havoc on the camera and once the shot is taken, there is nothing I can do to fix it.
Think about your location and make sure your wardrobe compliments the surroundings. For example, at a location in a large New Hampshire field with a rustic barn in the background it would be perfect for a little girl dressed in a simple, vintage style dress with Hunter wellies, pig tails and carrying a little vintage tin pail full of wildflowers, that same look would be out of place in an urban setting with a graffiti wall in the background. Also, consider how well the colors and patterns in the wardrobe will stand out against the backdrop of your location, a field of sunflowers at a Lee, NH farm might not be complimented by an outfit with a floral pattern or the same yellow and golds in it, but would look beautiful with a solid colored dress to pop off the colors of the flowers and grass. Many times I'll suggest that a family select a location first and then create the wardrobe, accessories and props to fit with the vision, surroundings and session vibe.
With this Hampton New Hampshire photography session the beach lends for a very soft look. I wanted to run with this and get a very subdued romantic look, so I suggested a light aqua color pallet, and it really makes for a dreamy look, had the clothing been a red or even a navy blue the look would have been drastically different. This was a super fun couple so we of course had to end the session by getting into the ocean!
A few things NOT to do
... many of them obvious no-no's but important to include again as a refresher.
- Avoid anything with logos, graphics, characters, labels, ect. These tend to take the "finished" look of a professional portrait down a few notches, can be distracting (who wants people to first notice the Nike or Gap logo before the adorable kid's smile?) and will date a photo quickly.
- If anyone is needing a trip to the salon, be sure to let the hair cut grow out a week or so in order to look most natural.
- Don't make anyone wear the same color ... matching is boring and dated. Coordinate colors and looks, letting everyone have their own spin on the color palette ( and every person does not - should not - have every color used in the color palette. )
-While trying to stay current and fashionable, do avoid obvious trends that will be dated soon. You can do fashion forward while still remaining timeless.
- No bright white socks and no sneakers, and make sure to remove any watches or jewelry that is not complimentary with the session's look.
- Leave keys and wallets in the car or in a purse set to the side, those pocket bulges are never fun and often awkward to fix.
** This amazing write up is courtesy of Paintthemoon.net and I just had to take advantage of all the great tips and share it with you. All of the images are mine and amazing families I have worked with.