Alright so you booked your shoot, you've got your location, now the only thing left to do is figure out what you (and possibly your little ones) are going to wear.
Unfortunately there isn't an easy straight forward answer to this. There are a lot of variables to think about before deciding if your neon pink blouse and purple leather skirt is really the best option to wear (spoiler alert, it's almost always not). We're going to look at a few things to take into account to hopefully help you make the right decision for your occasion.
Aim for Solid Colors
Where is your eye drawn in the photo above? The father's shirt right? Why is that? Because bold patterns or images can be distracting. We want to be able to focus on your face. This is especially important with group photos because one person in a bright paisley sweater can pull the attention away from the whole group. Muted colors work best for this same reason. You don't want your clothes to be the center of attention in a photo meant to be about your engagement. Bright colors also make you look larger, which is rarely the goal of someone in front of a camera. Black on the other hand is slimming but can blend everyone into one blob as well. Pops of color or white can help identify each person in the shot.
How to Pair Things
Okay, so now that you have your colors you need to be able to put them together nicely! Couple of important things here: one, light on top and dark on bottom makes your top look big. This is rarely flattering. However, dark on top and light on bottom makes your butt look big. Do with that what you will. To avoid having one half over power the other try to pair similar tones. Try limiting colors to 1-3 different colors so that everything feels like it goes together. This is one of the reasons that team pictures and wedding pictures almost always look nice and well put together. Everyone's wearing the same colors. Also, remember that the photographer might want to include full body shots (this is especially common if you have kids of varying ages like above) so much sure to take everything down to the shoes into consideration.
What Type of Clothes to Wear
Dress to your body type! To me this is the biggest one, and let me tell you why. I am all for body positivity. I think that all sizes of humans can be beautiful and that it's okay to not be a size 0, however, the caveat to this is that you need to dress in the ideal way for your body. Wear something that you feel comfortable in and that looks good on you not just because it looks cute on someone else. Skin tight clothing with deep plunging necklines may not be the best choice for everyone. Just as baggy loose clothing is not going to look as flattering on some others. When taking group photos, choosing a top with sleeves that at least go to the elbow will help make sure that all of that skin from your arm isn't distracting from everyone's faces. The same rule applies to pants if you are planning on having those in the pictures. In individual shoots tank tops can be more flattering and have no one to distract from other than yourself, however if you don't like your arms and aren't comfortable with the way they look, chances are that you won't like pictures that feature them. Longer sleeves will help keep them from being the focus of the photo.
Take Your Location Into Account!
A good rule of thumb is to dress like you normally would going to whatever location it is that you are going. Outside of wearing something super super nice (like a fancy dress in the middle of the forest, uber artsy, I'm totally down for this though, someone book a majestic shoot please) which is usually only a theme with individual portraits or in studio family portraits, there are few places where this doesn't work. If you are doing your portraits at an orchard wear something like reds and jeans, not heels and a sparkly dress. If you are shooting on the beach wear something flowy and light colored rather than cowboy boots and a flannel. Make sense? If you still aren't quite sure, ask your photographer! You can also look up different shoots at similar locations online and find outfits that you like that you could recreate. A sidebar here, taking what the shoot is for into account when choosing a location is very important. Urban style maternity shoots don't quite feel right, edgy shoots on the beach are often the same way. Pinterest boards are great for coming up with ideas and super easy to share with your photographer!
This goes for make up too (this is a rule of thumb, there are exceptions). As we talked about before you want the focus to be on your face. YOUR face. Not the gallons of makeup. Loud makeup and jewelry can be very distracting. As you can see in the picture above, the model is wearing a simple set of bracelets that add something simple to the arm that stops it from being a big white blob but doesn't distract you too much from her face. You want your photographs to represent you, not what you look like, or what you want to look like. (This might also help limit the mockery we are going to get from our children about long cat liner and dark smokey eyes in 30 years) Mascara and a little eyeliner go a long way. Neutral eyeshadows are also very flattering. Small simple jewelry is timeless and attractive and won't distract from your face.
Some Other Little Things
-Seniors be sure to keep your school colors in mind when choosing the outfit that you are going to wear with your lettermen or cap and gown in your photos. Clashing colors can be very distracting and unattractive.
- Boys, babies, and white don't mix well. Think of potential stains that could occur during your shoot and dress accordingly. This may mean bringing an extra outfit in case of an accident or be ready to pay the photographer extra to photoshop out that greenish baby puke in every image.
-The vibe of photos you want will also determine what you wear. It's very difficult to get light and airy photos when the whole family is in black. Discuss the feel you're aiming for with your photographer and make sure you dress to match.
-Try on your outfit before hand! Take some selfies, check yourself out in the mirror, do a little dance. BE COMFORTABLE IN IT. If you don't like how you look it will show in your photos. If you don't like wearing dresses, don't. Shoot somewhere in jeans and a t-shirt.
These are suggestions not hard concrete rules. There are always exceptions and a good photographer can make a lot of things that shouldn't work, work. Your goal is to make everything as easy as possible.