Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How To Coordinate for a Family Photo

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!


Donna said...

Fun Fun Fun!! I just love how cute family pics are when they've coordinated. Thanks for sharing.

Toria said...

love this!
I'm just trying to coordinate what to wear for our family photos that I'm hoping to get this month!
great idea to lay out clothes- maybe I should take a few shots of the clothes and send them to you for consultation!

Suzanne said...

Great advice! And so needed by me. I always end up buying new clothes for everyone, every time. No more! Thanks a ton. =)

Christie said...

I think your turquoise and brown outfits are my favorite ever. LOVE them.

Such great advice. I find myself telling clients these exact things, and yet? Someone always shows up with white holey socks and/or Aeropostal splashed across a chest. Drives me insane. Can I just send everyone to this post?

Cares and Mimi said...

We have never taken a family photo (gasp!)! Now I feel much more prepared if we do. When we do - :) Great advice!

Celia Fae said...

Great minds think alike, because I just posted a anti-coordination how-to. I revised it and linked to yours since you clearly have skills.

Jill T said...

Good post Brooke. You guys always look great!

Jeanelle said...

What a beautiful family -- love the color combos!

alexandra said...

Great tips, thanks so much! I have been reading your blog for so long, I remember when you were selecting the outfit for that turquoise and brown themed shoot (I love your outfit in that one). I totally agree about the coordinating rather than matching. It looks way better. Photos are easy for you guys though bc you are all so cute!

Anonymous said...

Great advice!!! I love it. Great pictures too.

Ashley said...

I know no one who puts as much effort into preparing clothes for photo shoots than you, but it really does pay off. Your outfits end up looking awesome together, hip and fresh and cute. Now tell us how to get people to look at the camera and smile.

Paige said...

Celia is right. You are hired.

Elizabeth said...

The outfits and locations are the hardest part of doing family pics! You are a master at it and all your pics end up looking gorgeous because of it. I really love the last lot of your pics with the "urban feel".

Linde said...

You are so right about the husband not wanting to take the picture and complaining about it!! :) Your pictures always look so cute!!

Kymmie said...

Oh I love how coordinated you are. And it's more original than a white shirt and blue jeans!

You're all so gorgeous. I love your beautiful family. xx


Seriously, what is with the fat arms???! I can't understand ho in the last five years all my flab has moved from my bum to my arms and gut. Bleh. No short sleeves for this girl...possibly ever again. If we ever take a picture of our whole family again (which I'm starting to think will have to be an Act of God) I will feel totally thankful if everyone HAS pants on. Getting my kids coordinated and KEEPING their clothes on is truly challenging. Keep up the good work my friend! And we are so not old. We are the new young.