What to wear in family photos

Let’s just admit it: picking out what to wear for family photos is one of the most stressful parts of the process of getting them taken. Did you know that it doesn’t have to be? The next time you schedule your family for photos I want you to remember my…

Whattowearinfamilyphotos

    1. Think about where you will display prints of the photos. When my family gets our photos taken, the first thing I think of is where I’m going to place them in our home. Will I want them in my living room, hallway, bedroom etc.? This always affects my outfit choices. The color of my room choice for the photos can make a difference in the color scheme I choose for our outfits. I knew I wanted to put the photos we recently had taken in our living room, so I wanted to bring in the grays, blues and a pop of coral from that room into our outfits.
    2. Choose a location that matches your colors. Choosing a location can be tricky because the tones in your background can either compliment your clothing or be a huge distraction. To find the best balance between the colors in your location and the colors in your clothing, check out portrait locations in advance while thinking about the overall color scheme you’re going for. If you’re a reader wanting to see some locations in West, MI you can check out my other post on West Michigan portrait locations. If you’re really concerned about colors getting lost in the background or, on the flip-side, really clashing with the background, a good photographer will always be willing to offer you advice if you tell him or her the look you’re hoping for.IMG_7960
    3. Mom, choose your outfit (or the pickiest family member’s!) first. In our family I’m the toughest critic. I want to make sure I’m comfortable and feeling great during our photo session. In your case, there might be someone else in the family who needs to be the one to feel their best. This is the person who needs to pick out her outfit first. Choose an outfit that the pickiest family member loves and then use that as your starting point. Once that outfit is chosen, start picking out outfits for the other family members to coordinate well with that one.20247764_1470661919659961_8149764829820702203_o
    4. Limit the number of patterns in your clothing. Don’t get me wrong, patterns are a great way to coordinate outfits together because they typically contain a lot of colors that you can match the rest of your outfits too.  However, patterns can be overwhelming and chaotic if you have multiple people wearing them.  If you choose to use patterns, it is best to have one person wearing a pattern and the other family members wearing complimentary solids. Also, skip the characters. Yes, your little one may love their Frozen shirt, but you may want to skip it for the family photo session. Just like patterns, characters on shirts can be pretty distracting.IMG_7973
    5. Coordinate, but don’t match. Having your outfits coordinate does not mean that everyone has to wear the exact same thing.  Having everyone in a different outfit that still coordinates allows for a pleasing photograph. Recently I laid out clothes for my husband and son for a family photoshoot. Both of their shirts were the same color gray, and the shirts just felt like they were missing something. I decided to look for a darker gray for my husband, and transitioned to something similar for my son that gave he and my husband individuality instead of fading into the background.
    6. Keep your clothing low maintenance. Does your little one hate wearing headbands?  Do you love a certain shirt but always find yourself fussing with it?  Make sure you eliminate outfits that could potentially cause problems during your session.  Even though that headband might be darling on your daughter, if she hates wearing it she is going to be miserable…and miserable in your photographs.  Once you show up to your session, the only thing you want to focus on is having fun and being yourself.20247548_1470659302993556_1924092169243457984_o
    7. Have a pop of color. Creatively incorporating color into your family’s wardrobe is a great way to draw interest into your photographs.  Whether you utilize color in someone’s shirt or in a hair bow, having a pop of color can be very pleasing to the eye when you are arranging what to wear for family photos.  Even choosing something as subtle as your earrings to incorporate color can make such a great difference. One thing you’ll want to avoid when adding color is neon. Neon colors can create color casts on your skin.  This means that the bright neon color will reflect on your skin and turn it an unnatural color.
    8. Accessorize. Accessories are a great way of adding interest to your family portraits.  If you are not one who likes using a pop of color in a big way, using accessories like a  great pair of earrings or a necklace is a great way to still add a pop to your photographs.  Accessories are also a wonderful way to incorporate textures and help coordinate your outfits. My favorite store to find the best accessories is Charming Charlie, where you can find jewelry in almost any color. (If you’re not as lucky as me to have one by you, you can also purchase from their online store.20294231_1470662086326611_3208619449138226922_n
    9. Mix textures. Having everyone wear a variety of textures can help create depth in your photographs and is a great way of incorporating a variety of tones.  Some textures you can mix are varieties like cotton, denim, tweed and lace. Wearing different textures is also a wonderful way to portray your personality through your photographs. For example, dressing a little girl in a lace dress can enhance her sweet and precious demeanor, while denim can show off her more casual side.
    10. Plan ahead. Once you book your session, start thinking of the clothes right away. Make sure to try on your chosen outfits to ensure they fit properly, and then set them aside so they are clean and fresh the day of your shoot. If you wait until the day or the day before the session to prepare your clothing, you may run into an issue of clothes not fitting or needing to be dry cleaned.

      Having trouble finding the right outfits for your color scheme or desired look? Visit Polyvore and place clothing and textures together on an online board to find what looks best. Also, visit my Pinterest board for ideas on outfits you can layer together for family photos. Lastly, don’t forget that you can always swing ideas and questions by your photographer before the shoot.
      I hope the next time you plan your photo session my 10 tips on what to wear can be helpful. I’d love to hear your feedback on this post or others. Has this blog post helped you? Do you have something else you want to know? Comment below.

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Special thanks to my girl at Katie Cook Photography for our family photos.


Are you interested in scheduling a family session with Kara Hanes Photography? Fill out the contact form and immediately receive information about Kara, her style and pricing information. Not ready for a session? That’s okay, stay up to date with Kara Hanes Photography by joining the e-mail list.

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10 Tips for Family Photos – Part 1

Ok so I know I’m a photographer but family photos are the most stressful for me. I think it’s probably good to do it once a year so I can at least put myself in your shoes and know what you’re going through. From coordinating outfits, picking the best spot to have them taken and then getting everyone “clean” and ready. Then there is me, mom who needs to look presentable except I’m probably the least of what I “think” I need to look like because of the lack of time left. Am I the only one out there or are there others that feel like me? Well I have decided that it is time to list out 10 things to help make things a little bit easier for you during this stressful time. I mean we gotta do it right? It’s a must, a memory of us in time.

What will we wear

1) COORDINATE, DON’T MATCH.

I know. It used to be a thing – everyone would wear the exact same outfit: think jeans and a white t-shirt. 2008, we even did it. I think this was the point in time that we all thought this was what we wanted. And while I wouldn’t change those captured memories, we have all moved on and learned to be more stylish. Choose a color scheme – mix and match colors so that everyone flows and coordinates.

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Photo Credit Thompson Studios

2) START WITH ONE PIECE AND BUILD

When I don’t know what colors I want to choose for a photo shoot, I choose one piece and build around it. For this shoot below, Christy is wearing a vibrant yellow top which coordinates very well with blue (and makes her brown eyes pop!) If you’re unsure of what colors to put together feel free to Check out my pinterest board here! Think layers (if the season allows it) lots of textures make for a vibrant photo. Be careful though, you don’t want to take away from those in your photo with you. (You wouldn’t want some huge scarf that covers your entire neck and face!)

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3) PLAN IN ADVANCE

The more time you allow yourself to decide what you would like everyone to wear, the more calm you will feel. Waiting until two nights before your shoot is bound to make you feel panicked. What if something you choose doesn’t fit, you can’t find the right shoes or your five year old refuses your chosen outfit? Just give yourself time. Additionally: options never hurt.

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4) KEEP YOUR LOCATION IN MIND

Are you going to be on the beach? Surrounded by beautiful foliage? Sometimes you can choose what you are wearing to accent the locale. Fall colors – deep reds, oranges and greens look lovely this time of year, while a softer palette accents the lake side.   (suggested locations)

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5) AVOID BEING TOO SEASONAL

Since you ultimately want your pictures to be up all year long, you’ll likely want to avoid being too seasonal, so you may want to skip Santa hats, reindeer ears or Halloween costumes – even if you are taking specific holiday pictures.

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6) CONSIDER YOUR HOME DECOR

Matching your clothing to your home decor? I know it may sound silly, but this is more about matching your personal style. As you will likely want your pictures to be on display for a very long time, consider if you are normally drawn to bold colors or neutral ones. This will allow your photographs to blend seamlessly with your home permanently.

7) COMFORT MATTERS

Give your kids a look that says who they are. While I may want to put my daughter in some cute jeans she would rather be in a “fancy” dress any day. It’s about compromise and to show who ya’ll are in this point in time.

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Photo Credit the amazing self timer

8) SKIP THE EXTRA PATTERNS

That favorite sweater or scarf or yours? You know the really loud one with the stripes AND dots?  A little bit of texture or patterning can be a good thing in one place, but if there are multiple patterns in a photo, it can be distracting. Take for instance this photo above. There are subtle patterns. Any more and it would be too busy.

9) JUST SAY NO TO CHARACTERS

I know your sweet girl loves her Frozen Dress and crown, but as this is a more formal photo and one you want to put on display, it is best to keep characters out of the picture. If this might be a fight, you can always bring the crown and much like my family ALWAYS does at least one crazy/silly/funny face photo, make the Princess photo one of the last ones you do.

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10) THINK TIMELESS

Fashions and styles come and go. You want your family photos to be timeless, so it is best to aim for a look you’re willing to stick with, not one that instantly dates you. Just as we can easily point to wedding photos from the 80’s, noting the hairstyles, the goofy sleeves and lace, your goal is to have this year’s photographs blend right in.

I hope this helps, and have fun!

Cover Image of my family courtesy of Dany C Photography.

Mini Sessions

Every year come October I love to take time to go outside, take a long walk and soak in my favorite season of the year. This year I was able to combine this with one other thing I love to do in the fall. This past Saturday I had 9 sessions. Yes you read that right, 9! My aunt and uncle introduced me to the most beautiful trail in west Michigan. I don’t tell many people about it because I like to think of it as a little hidden treasure. For one day I decided to share it with several different families to capture their family story of fall 2016.

My Favorite part of the day was that I got to see some of the families I had in school from when I was teaching. It’s crazy how old the kids get and it seems like just yesterday I would hear Ms. Kara over and over. (I still get that title when taking photos but it melts my heart to hear it once more) Until Next time…

Enjoy the little sneak peek! Please feel free to “follow me” on this blog. I feel like getting in to the spirit of competition a little bit. For the family that gets the most “follows” by the end of October will win a free 8″x 10″ of their favorite family portrait from the session.

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