What to Wear - Geraldine Ralph Photography

OH, WHAT SHOULD I WEAR ... ? This is probably the number one question we get asked before a photo shoot. It can be pretty confusing and stressful trying to decide what outfits would be best for your photography session ... but worry not! This guide will help you with styling tips and tricks to select clothing options for a perfect outcome on photo day!

COMPLEMENTING FAMILY OUTFITS Gone are the days of 1990's family portraits where everyone in the picture would wear the same outfit. A good way to start planning a photo session is to choose a color scheme. Try to choose a palette that has a mix of neutral shades and a bright color. Another option is a color scheme with one main color and different variations of that color. Instead of having everyone in the photo compete for center stage, you may want to choose one person to stand out from the others. They can wear one impactful piece that inspires the accessories and colors in everyone else's outfits. Typically, it's easier to have a woman's or girl's outfit be the focal point of a picture.  Once you've chosen one person to be the focus of the photograph, use a bright color to draw viewers' eyes in. Everyone else in the photo can have accessories that match the bright color, making the photo look unified and complete.

LAYER YOUR OUTFITS AND USE DIFFERENT TEXTURES Nothing draws the eye to a photo like differences. Two easy ways to add fun differences to a photo are layers and different textures. Layers offer different aspects to a photo in several different ways. Subjects can take on and take off layers for different looks in each photo, and layers add a nice bit of color variation. Different fabrics and accessories can give much-needed texture to a photo. Look for pieces of clothing with embroidered details, lace collars or accents, ribbons, ruffles, and other fun textures. These types of different textures show up well in black and white photos as well as color photos, giving a pop of personality to each photo. Plan your outfits and layers to match your vision for the photo and what brings out your subjects' personalities and styles.

EVERYTHING MATTERS FROM TOP TO BOTTOM ... YES THAT INCLUDES SHOES ! Everything that is worn or used in a photo shoot affects the look and feel of each photo. This includes shoes. Don't let shoes and footwear be an overlooked part of your outfit planning. A pair of shoes that doesn't fit in with the rest of a photo can detract from the picture. Unless you have tennis shoes that are unique and fun enough to fit in with the vibe of a photo shoot, you may want to consider other footwear options for your pictures. For women, ballet flats come in almost every color.  Choosing a pair of flats that fit in with the color scheme is a great way to make a photo look great and add a burst of color. Shoes, when matched with accessories that other subjects in the photo are wearing, can tie a photo together. Bright yellow ballet flats can match a man's yellow tie or a little girl's headband. This creates a unified feel in a photo without making it too cutesy. Consider going barefoot if the shoot allows for it. Bare feet can create a rustic, casual feel that better shows off the natural personality and interaction of the subjects in a photo.

KEEP IT CLASSIC FOR A TIMELESS LOOK While your preferences may be different, many photographers and subjects alike prefer to dress in timeless and classic looks that will last through the years. Wearing clothes that are too trendy might mean that the photos will look outdated in a matter of months of years. If you choose clothes that have looked good for years, the photos will likely continue to look good and up-to-date for years to come. For a classic look, choose a soft color palette with a couple of bright colors that are repeated in accessories throughout the photos. Sticking to timeless looks will let your subjects' personalities shine through. However, if a family wishes to use trendy, modern clothing, that is their prerogative. Either way, you can make a beautiful photo! KEEP THE DISPLAY IN MIND As you plan out a photo shoot, remember to think about where and how pictures will be displayed. If you are planning on displaying photos on your living room wall, tie the colors and setup of your photos to the color scheme of the room. Photos that will go up in a child's room should emulate the fun, playful spirit of children and capture the age of your children. Pictures that will be used for invitations, Christmas cards, or announcements, keep the smaller display size of the photo in mind. Small details may get lost in a smaller photo, so use bold accessories that will show up in a 5 x 7 photo.

CHOOSING CLOTHES FOR CHILDREN Adults can be comfortable in just about anything for the length of a photo shoot. However, choosing perfect children's clothing is of the utmost importance for a good photo shoot. Kids can be made itchy or uncomfortable by the smallest inconvenience—a tag in the back of a shirt or a fabric that rubs against the skin wrong. Choose free-flowing clothing for kids will allow them to move easier and stay comfortable throughout the photo shoot. For outdoor photos, consider bright, free-flowing clothing that will move with the child and add movement and life to a photo. A dress that twirls not only enchants a little girl, it make a photo exciting and engaging. A superhero cape has the same effect for a boy—they feel excited about the photo and that enthusiasm shows in the photo.  To ensure that the children are happy and at ease during photos, let them pick their own clothing. They'll pick something that shows off what their preferences and interests are. If you are worried about what they'll choose, try selecting three or four main outfits that you would be happy with your child wearing for a photo. Let them choose from the outfits you've selected; they'll still feel like they got to make the decision.

PATTERNED CLOTHES Patterns are like bright colors and accessories in photos—they are great when they are used with a light hand. One person wearing a patterned top or dress can break up the picture into visually interesting chunks. To avoid overwhelming a photo, have just one subject in a photo wear a bold pattern. In the rest of the photo, have small bursts of patterns to draw the eye through the photo. For instance, a little girl dressed in a bold patterned dress can look great next to her mother who is wearing a subtly patterned scarf. 

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION As you plan your photo shoot outfits, keep the location in mind. You want the clothing choices and the photo setting to complement each other, not look like they don't match. Imagine a little girl with a vintage cotton dress, sporting pigtails and holding a handful of flowers she picked herself. This would look great in a meadow or a farm setting. However, the same little girl would look a bit strange in an urban photo setting.  You also want to make sure that the colors and patterns you choose fit well in the environment you've selected. If a subject's clothing is the same color as the background, she or he may blend in. It may be easier to first choose the location for a photo shoot and then plan outfits around that location. If you're shooting in an area with lots of patterns and visually distracting elements, bright, solid colors may be just what your subjects need to stand out.

DO’S & DON’TS TIPS & TRICKS Avoid outfits that mean that everyone is wearing the same color or pattern. This makes a photo look dull and outdated, not to mention taking away from your subjects' unique personalities and preferences. Choose a color palette and let everyone have their own take on it. This will create a photo that is coordinated and classy without being cheesy or overdone. Don't choose clothing that has large pictures, labels, logos, or words on it. This often looks too casual for a photo shoot and detracts from the overall feel of a photo. People who look at the photos will notice the logo on your child's shirt before they notice your child's beaming smile. Logos and graphics on clothing can work in some cases. Themed photo shoots may call for these items. In general, however, try to stick with more classic clothes that will show something other than what clothing brands you favor. If you choose a stylish, modern look for a photo shoot, make your clothing choices wisely. Choosing something that is overly trendy and doesn't have any classic features will make your photos look out-of-date long before they need to. Stay away from white socks and sneakers. Neither bring anything to a photo, and both can actually detract from the overall look of a photo. If sneakers or white socks are part of a modern look, they may have their place. If photo subjects have jewelry or accessories they wear all the time, make sure that they fit in with the look of a photo before wearing them in a photo. Watches, earrings, necklaces, sunglasses, cell phones, vapes, hair bands on wrists and other accessories may need to be removed for a photo shoot.


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