Category Archives: How to

7 Quick Tips for Styling Your Family for Your Photo Session by Jamie Cramble Photography

photo of mom with two young sons running around her
In 2016, I chose red, white and blue for our family photos with Melissa Soto Photography. What colors should we go with this year?

As a photographer and as a client, I have a few years of experience in selecting a wardrobe for a photo session.  I’ve learned from my mistakes as a client – like waiting until the last minute and then feeling self conscious because my jean jacket didn’t fit right. Or picking one of the kid’s outfits first and then having a devil of a time finding something even remotely coordinating for me.

Because if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.  Or something like that.

Now that I know better,  I start thinking about it a month in advance and I start with my own outfit first.  Last year’s wardrobe (featured above) came together with no tears and I was really happy with it. I still get so many complements on our photos by Melissa Soto Photography!

So, before you sprint off to the mall or hit up your favorite online shopping hangout, please ask yourself a few questions:

-What feel do I want my photos to have?
-Where will my photos be taken?
-Where will I display and use these photos?  
-What do I already own that I love to wear?
-What do I know I want to buy for myself?
-Is our photo session going to have a theme? (i.e. Mommy and Me, beach session, tree farm session)

Photo of dad and daughter holding hands. Little girl is wearing red, white and blue handkerchief dress. Dad is wearing navy shirt and plaid shorts.
Red, White and Blue color palette and successfully mixing patterns

Let your answers to these questions guide your approach to picking out your clothes, accessories and makeup.  I include a presession consultation for all my full sessions.  Use that time to ask me for suggestions or share whatever plans you’ve made so far.  I also encourage my clients to text me photos of their choices if they are unsure or want some feedback.  Most take me up on that and share that they are happy that they took a few minutes to do that.  And of all the times clients have done that, they have been right on with their choices.

So, that said here are my favorite 7 quick tips to picking a great wardrobe for your next family photo session.

Color photo of family in a field of purple lupine at sunset.
Coordinated neutrals with pops of color.

DO – Start with Mama’s outfit first. If Mama feels beautiful and confident, she will be more relaxed and allow her inner beauty to shine through in the photos. Kids are usually the easiest, so that’s why I say to save picking their outfits for last. Pick things that are your style that you would usually wear. Don’t be afraid to pick a dress – something with a swishy skirt always photographs well. Pull together some light layers and you can have a couple different looks by adding/removing a layer.
DO – Shop your closets at home. There’s usually no need to buy brand new outfits for every family member. Start with some basics or accessories you already have and love. Then make a quick trip to your favorite store to round out what you don’t already have or to buy a piece of clothing you love.
DO – Coordinate your color palette, but DON’T be too matchy-matchy. Think neutrals as a base with a bright accent color. For our family photos 2 years ago, I went with blues and oranges. Last year, my family went with red, white and blue with solids for me and mixed plaids for my husband and sons. Also, avoid clothes that are too trendy. Opting for classic pieces will make your photos timeless. Add a statement necklace or earrings or scarf for a little pop.
DO – Take a little time with hair and makeup. Style it how you like it and be sure to wear a little lipstick to give your lips some definition. I like to go a little bit heavier on eye makeup myself to make them pop, but that’s just me.  Since family photos are not an everyday occurrence and are a luxury item, give yourself permission to splurge on your hair and makeup.

DON’T – Wear any large logos. Again, you want to strive for timeless. Logos are a very distracting element in photos and it’s best to select clothes without them. Unless you want to give John Deere or Nike free advertising in your heirloom photos.  Or you want to add extra retouching fees to your budget.
DON’T – Be afraid to mix patterns. Florals and plaids marry well when they include the same colors and scale. Just be careful that the pattern isn’t overpowering.
DON’T – Be afraid to go barefoot.  After all, it’s summer in MN!  Going barefoot adds a casual and natural vibe to your photos. Just be careful where you are.  You don’t want to step on glass.

Whatever you select for yourself and your family, make sure that you feel great and are comfortable wearing your picks.  If something doesn’t feel quite right, swap it out!  You want to be able to look at your photos years from now and still love them and be happy you made the investment in them.