Once again, I am joining Christie's How-to Tuesday today. I struggled to come up with something to teach the masses. I don't craft, I don't cook, I barely keep my kids alive. But we do get family photos taken every year.
These days, it is not that expensive to get pictures done--I have an amazing photographer who does it for around $150.00 and gives you the disc. I love displaying those photos in my home and having a decent picture for the Christmas card. I have learned a thing or two about coordinating the family over the years.
Here is my advice:
First, decide if you want to be dressy, casual or somewhere in-between. I usually go on the dressy side but this last go-round we wore jeans and went with an urban feel.
Next, decide location. I have made the mistake in the past in not choosing clothes that go with the location (we once wore nautical clothes up in the canyon--what was I thinking?) Jeans and boots look good in the city, summer dresses and shorts look good in the park, fall clothing looks good in the canyon, etc.
Pick two to three main colors to work with (like red, black and gray, or turquoise and brown, etc)
Start with the person who is the hardest to shop for. For our family, that person is me. (This step may even come before picking colors.) Pick your outfit and then use those colors to determine the rest of the picture.
Go to every one's closets and pull out any options in the color scheme you chose. Bring all the clothes to your room and start laying out options on your bed.
Keep trying things until you get something that looks good. Keep in mind that you are looking at the group as a whole. Try not to have anyone stick out too much (unless it is intentional!) You may have to go buy a sweater or some other item for one person but by trying a bunch of different combinations, you can usually find something that works without buying a lot.
Sometimes I even take a picture of all the clothes because it is easier to see in a photo if something sticks out. Here are the three photos I took of clothing choices for the photo above:
We ended up using the clothing in photo #2.
Some other tips:
I love layers in pictures--sweater vests always look cute on boys. I usually use whatever sweater vests my boys have for church and put them with jeans. I like to roll up their sleeves and leave their shirts untucked for a more casual feel.
I discourage ties in pictures. I think they look stuffy and seem to date the picture.
I have moved away from the matchy-matchy stuff. For the love of everything holy, don't have everyone wear a matching shirt unless you want to end up on awkwardfamilyphotos.com. I don't even match my boys anymore. If two are wearing sweater vests, I make sure the vests coordinate but don't match and I try to put the other one in a sweater or something else.
Avoid any items of clothing with writing or logos.
Avoid really short sleeves on women. This may just be for me and my fat arms.
Husbands are easy (to dress that is--they will complain bitterly about the picture taking process). Put them in either a dress shirt and sports jacket or polo shirt or sweater.
Don't get wrapped around the axle about finding the perfect outfit for each person. I have worn outfits in pictures that I would never wear in real life just because it looked good as part of the whole grouping.
Borrow clothes from friends!
Remember that the camera captures everything. Dirty shoes, bad socks, etc. I actually bought by 7 year old new black shoes at Payless for our last picture and I'm glad I did.
For fall and winter pictures, I think long coats with pattern are really cute and hats and other accessories always add character to the picture.
Have fun with it--remember you're not curing cancer!
Because I know someone is going to ask. My photographer is Jill Tew at daytewdayphotography.blogspot.com.
For more brilliant ideas, go here!