We recommend the following guidelines to create timeless, polished portraits:
Choose Your Level of Dress
- Studio sessions are strongly encouraged to choose formal attire for a polished look. Consider dresses or gowns for the ladies and suits layered with vests and ties/bow ties for the men.
- Outdoor sessions work well for either formal or more semi-casual attire. Even when casual, we encourage everyone to be on the nice side of casual. Button-down shirts with khakis/slacks/nice jeans for the men and relaxed dresses for ladies work well. Ladies may also consider nice shirts paired with pants/nice jeans or longer skirts. Remember that outdoor sessions are in rustic settings, so consider attire that allows for a wide variety of posing, inclusive of sitting in grasses and/or on rocks.
Begin with Your Neutral Anchor Tone & Compliment with Harmonious Colors
- Each person in the portrait should have this neutral tone represented in his/her attire.
- Start with solid (or lightly textured) outfits in cohesive color combinations. Lean most to solid tones, and when desired, add a minimal splash of color and pattern with the children’s outfits or adult’s accessories (ie: a shirt or blouse under a jacket, a scarf, jewelry, hair accessories).
- Experience shows that strong patterns and stripes can date a portrait quickly. For a timeless and more artistic effort, employ solids and subtly-textured fabrics.
- Compliment your neutral anchor tone with 1-3 additional colors from the same color family. Make sure to intersperse your chosen colors across multiple family members. Your goal is a balanced and cohesive look. When choosing color combinations, ask yourself, “If one person wore all these colors together, would it look good?”
- Remember that it’s not enough to ask each person to look good individually. Family portraits photograph people in groups. You are aiming for the group to look good together, so coordination is essential.
Avoid Mixing Whites and Darks
- Unify the group with a “dark-on-dark” mix of clothing, (OR) a mix of “light-on-light” tones.
- Do not mix dark and light tops and bottoms. Especially in larger groups, this can create a “cluttered” look. Ideally, no outfit will compete for attention and the focus of the portrait will be on your expressions and relationships.
- Our eyes are naturally created to look first to places of high contrast and brightness. Ideally, we want to create portraits for our families where the faces are the first focus, so aiming for dark-on-dark mixes of attire help faces to take centerstage.
Lay it All Out
- Once you’ve made your selections of formal vs. nice casual and the color palette, lay out everyone’s clothing. Even better, lay the attire out in the room where your portrait will live to ensure your attire will also look great with your room decor.
- Look across the outfits and ensure cohesive color harmony and blend. Aim for the outfits to coordinate and for equal attention to rest on each outfit.
- When you find places that need adjustments, replace outfit pieces and/or change accessories until you achieve a complimentary and exciting look.
- Take a quick snapshot with your phone when you’re happy with your choices. Feel free to text your selections to the Studio at 719-291-9798 for our feedback. This snapshot can also be helpful when coordinating with other family members so everyone understands the vision for attire.
- Especially when unsure, we recommend bringing extra clothing options for members of your group. Keep these alternates within the choices you made for level of formality and color palette.
- Often we find that changing a top or bottom at the last minute can greatly improve your portrait design.
- Choose dark clothing.
- Consider long sleeve options for your tops.
- Consider wearing the same tone on top and bottom as it tends to visually lengthen and slenderize the body.
- People who wear their glasses full-time often want to feature themselves with glasses in their portraits. Glasses can produce glare and reflections covering the eyes. While the photographer employs professional techniques to minimize glass glare, some glare may be unavoidable. This is not retouchable. Anti-reflective coating helps greatly to reduce the reflections. We often recommend borrowing a similar pair of empty frames from your optometrist, or going without.
- For those who have Transitions lenses, we strongly recommend alternative eyewear or going without glasses for your session. The technology for Transitions lenses will cause wearers to appear as though they had on sunglasses. Your eyes will not be seen in the portraits when wearing Transitions glasses for an outdoor session.