Five Tips for Styling your next Family Session
by Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography
Maybe you have had your session booked for weeks or even months. You have put so much time into looking for the photographer that suits your vision (and your family) best. After pouring through Pinterest images and various blogs, you are excited for your family photos! All is good…except now you have to piece together a wardrobe for your entire family, and youʼre feeling a bit overwhelmed at the prospect. It happens to the good majority of my families and in my experience, itʼs the Mama that takes on the majority of the planning and in turn the majority of the stress. The truth is styling is one of things that we underestimate. When we are fawning over all of these gorgeous family photos on the internet, itʼs easy to miss the fact that itʼs a huge culmination of so many different things. Yes the locations are great and the connection is there and the light may be dreamy, but your clothing pulls it all together. It is the quickest way to really personalize your session and make sure that your own personal style shines through.
1. Ask for help. Seriously. Donʼt be shy. You arenʼt being a bother. And if you are, you may want to rethink your photographer. In many cases, your photographer will even have a simple guide or reference to help you along your way. This guide typically may include their favorite shops and stores, ways to mix and match clothing or tips to help make your life a bit easier. In any case, your photographer is more than happy to accommodate you. In fact, they want to put you at ease so the experience is enjoyable. In addition to that, clothing really can help set the tone of the session so knowing you are happy with what you are wearing is only going to heighten your images and make them that much more beautiful. You donʼt have to do this alone.
2. Look at your Photographerʼs website/blog/social media accounts for inspiration. If you look closely at how clothing is matched and paired together, you will have a good jumping off point. Create your own mood board with ideas on Pinterest. This will help you get a sense of your own likes if you are still figuring that out.
3. Location matters. Really look at where you are shooting and consider things such as the climate and if you are going to be warm or cool enough. Does the style of clothing really flow with the backdrop youʼll be using? Even something such as footwear makes a difference. If you might be doing a bit of walking, certain footwear is going to be miserable even if those heels are really cute. You also want to make sure the materials are not itchy or scratchy, especially on children. Take my word for it, you will hear about it the entire time. You want to look good but you also donʼt want it to be all about the clothes. They are an accessory. Your family are the stars of the show, not your husbands slacks.
4. Keep it timeless. Avoid anything that dates your clothing. Logos , Cartoon Characters and even neon clothing can really be distracting. I also recommend keeping everything cohesive and staying in the same color family without being too “matchy.” For example, wearing all white shirts or identical outfits will make it seem like you have a family “uniform” instead of really showing off all those beautiful personalities and what makes your family special and unique. I even recommend that you get your children into the planning. Give them an option or two and let them pick one thing in their outfits (you can give them choices that you have already prescreened so that you have some control.) This will help get them excited too! Even if itʼs a hair bow, piece of jewelry or a pair of shoes. If you are overwhelmed and need a good foundation, look at mannequins and groupings in stores and how they put clothing together. Start with your favorite color or a pattern that really catches your eye and go from there. If you love flowers, maybe a floral pattern on your dress or if yellow is your jam… find something yellow.
4. Treat yourself. Buy that dress you have been eying. It doesnʼt have to be expensive, but you deserve to feel beautiful. Consider the way you move in your outfit and how it makes you feel. That is just as important as how it looks. Get your hair and your nails done. Sometimes even beginning with your outfit and styling everyone else around that is the jumpstart you need to feel inspired. As a side note, the one thing I would strongly recommend is if you do get your hair or make up done for your session, be sure to go for a practice run first. Having your hair and make up done hours before your session and then finding you donʼt like it can make you insecure and dampen the entire mood of your big day.
Ultimately the styling is a huge part of what will make your photographs pop. Good styling will also inspire your photographer and in part make stronger images. Donʼt forget at the end of the day though, nothing trumps the love you have for your family and you never want your clothes to wear you. This should be fun… until itʼs time to dress everyone. Good luck with that.
All photos by Sarah Cornish of My Four Hens Photography