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Lifestyle and Portrait Photography in Phoenix, Scottsdale, and Tempe


7017 S. Priest Dr., Tempe AZ 85283

© 2020 by Dave Bentley Photography

Family Photography Style Guide

Updated: Dec 18, 2019

One of the most common questions I get asked during the planning stages is "What should we wear?" While styles and trends change, so does advice on what to wear on your photo shoot. Not too long ago, the popular trend was white shirts and jeans for the entire family. I’m more than happy to discuss your clothing options, help give you a direction to focus on, and help make sure that your clothing coordinates well with the locations chosen for your photo shoot. After-all, you don’t want to look like you should be at the beach if you’re shooting in the desert.

Here are some general guidelines to help you choose the perfect attire for your next family photography session in Arizona:

Coordinate (and Don't) Outfits

This doesn’t mean everyone has to match 100% with khaki pants/jeans and a white/pastel shirt. It can be tempting to match everyone in identical outfits (especially along gender lines), but I discourage this because it can make the final images look a little “stiff”. It’s best to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors that work well together. If everyone is wearing the same color, people will tend to blend in together and there won’t be too much “pop” to your photos. There’s a difference between coordinating vs. matching.

Use Colors & Patterns (Sensibly)

Colors are everywhere around us and bring things to life. Our eyes are drawn to color, so why not give your images some life! Again, be sure the colors you choose to coordinate with complement each other and you don’t just end up looking like one big color blob. Patterns can be tricky, but when choosing patterns, stick to smaller patterns that won’t pull attention away from the main subject. Use patterns sparingly…. if one person is wearing a print, try to avoid putting someone else in a competing pattern. When using texture, choose different ones that will give photos some interest. This can include options such as lace, corduroy, denim, etc. Also, make sure to avoid large logo’s, company names, emblems and graphics (ex: “NIKE” and “Old Navy”) because again, these will typically distract attention away from, the subject. Plus, these types of articles can date your images.

Skip the Distractions

As much everyone loves animals and funny videos, seeing a family wear outfits with animals, flowers, and big faces all over their clothing can be a bit distraction. Eliminating these distractions can put the focus on you and your family, where is exactly where it should be.

Classic and Timeless

You don’t want to have “those photos” that everyone digs up and has a laugh over the styles of that time period (remember laughing at your Uncle’s bell bottoms?).

More than likely, you’ll have some of these printed, framed and displayed proudly in your home. Choose outfits that aren’t considered too trendy. Try sticking to colors such as a neutral color palate (think organic/earth tones). . Colors such as grey, tan, cream, blue, lighter browns, white. If you’re stressing too much over it, stick to the tried and true. Go with a classic look and style that still allows you to incorporate your own personality into the outfit with accessories. Even though you don’t want to look back and laugh, you still want to be you.

Dress for the Season & Location

Pay attention to where you’ll be shooting your session. Choose outfits that would normally fit in that setting. For example, if you are shooting at the beach, you wouldn’t want to wear a jacket, jeans, scarves, etc. Similarly, makes sure you're comfortable temperature wise and choose appropriate clothing for the season/climate (sweaters/long pants if it's cooler, and lighter fabric material).

Don’t Forget the Feet!

This is one thing that many people tend to overlook. Don’t forget, your feet will be in your photos. Make sure you wear appropriate footwear, and that they’re clean/presentable. Another thing to consider if safety. Some outfits will require fancy footwear, so bring along a pair of sneakers or something more practical to wear while we walk to the location / in between locations.

Showcase Your Personality

Everything I’ve mentioned are just suggestions, but the most important is to have fun and “Be Yourselves”. The purpose of your session is to hopefully capture your family as person truly is, including personalities and quirks. If you end up forcing children to wear outfits that are uncomfortable and unfamiliar to them, it may cause some anxiety, grumpiness, and frustration, which will show through in your photos instead of their happy personalities. These guidelines are here to help, but still wear clothing that you want to wear, and that you’ll feel good and comfortable in.

Here’s a Few Bonus Tips To Get Ready for Your Family Photography Session:

  • Decide who is the most difficult to dress and get ready and start there. Is everyone difficult? Assemble the must use pieces of clothing for each family member on the bed and continue.

  • Look at the colors you’ve assembled so far. Use the existing color palette and the knowledge of who you have left to dress to decide on 2-3 colors that complement each other.

  • Add articles of clothing from closets (or stores, if you must). Different shades of the same color are very forgiving, so you don’t even need to worry about choosing the same exact shade. Use accessories like necklaces, scarves, or shoes to add pops of color.

  • Take a photo send to your photographer if you have any questions. We are a helpful resource and do not mind providing feedback. Plus it helps us prepare/plan for the shoot and think about specific locations.