Style Tips for Authentic Family Photos

In a world where every day things seem to get heavier and heavier I wanted shift my focus, my love and light, on what feeds my soul. My family.  It was time for family photos. But this time around I wanted to approach my photos a little differently. Instead of a family photo where we stand next to each other wearing some kind of uncomfortably attractive ensemble, politely smiling back at the camera, I wanted to have my family in all our uniqueness, captured in photos. What’s the difference and how can you achieve this too? Let me show you.

The Photographer

First, like finding the right Style Coach, you have to find the right photographer.  You want someone who see’s you and takes the time to ‘get’ the vibe of your tribe.  This year we had the opportunity to work with Posy Quarterman.

We wanted to work with Posy because her photos had a warmth and authenticity about them that resonated with the feel I wanted to have.  In her work I felt like I was witnessing an intimate family moment rather than seeing a posed family with cardboard smiles.  What made me fall in love with Posy was how she related to us, especially my kids. She asked them poignant, searching questions that would help her to understand who they are as individuals. This then translated so beautifully in her photographs.  They enjoyed her so much they invited her to dinner with us afterwards. You cannot have an authentic family photo if the person behind the camera isn’t.

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Now What To Wear

The right photographer will have some pointers on what to wear. They’ll have an idea of the location requirements (outdoors versus your home) as well as any pointers like “Try not to look matchy matchy”  and “Look real” which Posy suggested and I was certainly on board with. Instead of dressing my kids up in something that may look good but didn’t represent their personalities, I decided to embrace all of our personal styles while maintaining some standard so we didn’t look like a vagabond of misfits. I mean, let’s get real, this was most likely going to be our holiday card. I want us to look good but I wanted us to look like us.

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Start with ‘The One’

Families come in all different kinds of packages so start with: ‘The One’. You know, the fashionista of the family. If you don’t have that then go with the most opinionated. What will they feel most confident in?  Color is always the most important factor. You want everyone to wear colors that flatter and don’t get washed out in the photo.  And don’t be afraid of bold colors if they look good on you, they look great in photos!

I’m a soft, meaning that the transition between my hair, eyes and skin tone is a soft transition so I wanted to wear colors that were on the softer side but I wanted color saturation so I didn’t look washed out. I take it you can guess who ‘The One’ is in my family.

I loved this consignment dress that I found at Consign Couture. It was feminine and had movement which was another great suggestion from Posy. “Fabrics that have movement photograph well” she said. To give it a little edginess (more my style) to my look, I paired  a leather jacket that I’d already owned and there you had it, a color palette to work from, my dress and jacket.

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The Partner

Your partner, husband, better half (in my case) should compliment ‘The One’s’ look.  Yes navy is an easy choice and it can often be found in one’s wardrobe but I know you can do better.  For my husband I selected a warm pink button down shirt that flattered his skin tone and complimented the pattern in my dress and the flowers on my jacket. Frankly partners are usually pretty easy so try not to overthink it but also try not to defer to the blues, there are so many other color choices that are more interesting.

The Kiddos

Now I don’t know about your kids but I’m guessing, like me, you have one that’s pretty opinionated about what they want or don’t want to wear.  In my case my oldest was my biggest challenge.

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Like most eleven year old’s my oldest has an affinity towards athletic gear. And wearing jeans is literally a form of torture.  I wasn’t about to allow my family photo to become an advertisement for some athletic company so he and I went to do some shopping.  The thing is, he has a lot of personal style, I just needed to put my Personal Style Coach hat on and really listen to what he wanted.  I knew I couldn’t battle sweatpants so we found a ‘nice’ pair of sweatpants that complimented a very stylish sweatshirt we found at a local boutique Black Wagon. The sweatshirt had a whimsical pattern on it that worked perfectly with a new pair of ‘kicks’ he’d just received for his birthday and lucky me, the colors complimented my dress and his fathers shirt. My last battle with him was the all-important hat.  He had been growing out his hair and felt more himself in a hat so we found a stylish leather option that we agreed he’d wear backwards so those beautiful brown eyes weren’t hidden.  He looked and felt like himself which I can see and so appreciate in the photos Posy took.

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Lastly we had my youngest, our little free spirit. At eight he’s just starting to understand his personal style.  What we do know is that he’s not his brother and I really wanted that represented.  Instead of going with a blue or pink like the rest of us were wearing I wanted a look for him that didn’t match us but complimented the rest of our looks.  I selected a warm lighter pant to offset the rest of our darker tones.  I found a great tee shirt that said “Bad to the Bone- No Guts no Glory” which spoke to out little mans fire.  I love mixing patterns and feel it creates and interesting, layered look to photos so I found a great reversible shirt again at Black Wagon that again complimented all the colors the rest of us were wearing but was individual, just like our little dude.

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And there you have it, not family photos but photos of my family; laughing, screaming, living and loving.  It was all captured on a beautiful fall evening atop of Powell Butte by the remarkable photographer, Posy Quartman.  And we look like us: The Fashionista, The Better Half, The Sporty Stylish Dude and The Wild Child.

For your back pocket

A few more helpful tips I learned from Posy to help you achieve a great family photo experience.

  • Have snacks available for kiddos, avoid crummy types. Go for more fruit gummies or anything that doesn’t make too much of a mess. Don’t forget snacks for your pet if they’re along for the shoot.
  • Bring water bottles. Avoid anything that can stain or can be sticky.
  • Be sure to have your makeup for any touch ups.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you might be doing some walking about to find the right spots.
  • Have a lint roller available especially if you have your pet along for the shoot.
  • Include your tweens into the process and have them create a playlist that you can listen to with your families favorite tunes to help everyone feel included.  It will help you relax and have fun.