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Tips for Dressing a Family for a Photo Shoot

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I have tried to be really diligent since Greta was born to get yearly professional photos done of our family. I treasure them so much. I love the entire process. The researching of photographers, analyzing their style, locations. Picking outfits for the entire family takes me a good month or two. I know, crazy right? But I really love to love what we all wear if that makes sense. And for it to reflect where we are in our lives.

The only stressful part for me is the actual shoot itself. Making sure everyone is fed and happy, wondering if the weather will cooperate, all this makes me nervous. Fortunately the shoot itself is over in no time and I can go back to loving the process. Looking over proofs, picking my favorites and printing them. Putting them up on the wall and in frames and staring at them for months and months to come. You can see past shoots on the blog herehere, more here, and here. For someone who hates change, my hair has gone through quite the transformation the last 3 years!

How should you go about choosing outfits for a professional photo shoot? I've compiled a few tips to share which I have discovered the last few years...

~1. If you are worried about your clothes coordinating, pick just ONE color that each family member will incorporate into their wardrobe. The color can vary from year to year, maybe blue or gray or green will be the color you choose. Be sure this color is subtle in each outfit. If gray is the color, maybe a gray scarf on one person, and a pair of gray pants on another, and for someone else it'll be just some gray in the tie. Don't pick 2-3 colors and dress everyone in those colors. That's way too matchy matchy. In fact I actively make sure each kid's color palette is their own, separate from anyone else. 

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~2. Make sure everyone is comfortable. There's nothing worse than making your kid wear the fancy shoes when you will be walking far to a location shoot, and most likely you won't even see the shoes. Don't pick their least favorite button down, and make sure they try on the clothes ahead of time so that you can adjust the choices if they are unhappy.

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~3. Have options. Find out ahead of time if your photographer will have enough time to let you change midway through the shoot. It's good to break up the shoot this way too. It gives the kids a chance to have a snack, and stop smiling for a few minutes. For the second outfit, make sure you pick a totally different style. Maybe casual if the first was more dressy, maybe layers this time. And bring different accessories too. Pack a little bag with different earrings or necklaces so that you can change up your look for close ups. 

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~4. Try to choose outfits that come from different stores or brands, and put outfits together from all the choices. I try to hit a handful of stores, buy lots of pieces and then put together different outfits at home. Then everyone can look over the choices and give their opinions. Whatever doesn't fit or won't be used gets returned. A few stores we ended up wearing clothes from for our most recent photo shoot: Gap, GapKids, Anthropologie, MiniBoden, ZaraKids, J. Crew, Bloomingdales, Nordstrom, and LandsEnd. I gather pieces all month long and then slowly weed out and take back what's rejected. As much as I love Gap, I don't want to look like a Gap ad in our family pictures.

In the photo below Greta is wearing Lands End, Mini Boden, Gap and J.Crew, but it goes together beautifully without matching nauseously. Her skirt and her tank both have polka dots but the varying size makes them work.

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~5. Expect the unexpected. We were planning on sunshine and warm weather for this shoot, and the day of our pictures it rained off and on. The sun never ever came out. After going back and forth with the photographer, who offered to reschedule, we decided to go for it. Planning photo shoots for a big family can be hard. Coordinating all 3 boys to get haircuts in preparation, timing it so no one has any scabs, bruises or facial cuts is also nearly impossible. We factored all this into our decision and decided it is what it is. We grabbed a denim shirt for Greta that I hadn't planned on her wearing, but keeping her warm was worth the smiles she gave us that afternoon. So have extra layers on hand that could coordinate "just in case". 

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~6. Lastly, just enjoy the moments that are being captured. You will look back and not remember all the shopping trips and battles over which shoes your kid will wear, but you will have these special photos for all time to look back on and savor. Relax, letting someone else do the capturing for once. 

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*Photos above were taken by the talented and wonderful Josh Elliott, if you are in Southern California, mark my words, you will not be disappointed.