Sunday, September 29, 2013

5 Tips for FABULOUS Autumn Family Photos

It's that time of year again - that wonderfully magical time when the leaves start turning brilliant colors of the spectrum and gracefully falling to the earth by the droves. The air is crisp and just slightly damp. You can drive with no air on, just the windows down in your vehicle.
But, most importantly, it's time for family photos!!
Pictures of smiling kids all in coordinating clothes perfectly matched with their parents attire complete with hats and scarves. And of course, everyone is smiling genuinely while playing in a field of golden and amber leaves.
What delusional island do YOU live on?! Please! To capture family photo like the one described above the photographer would obviously have had to drug the entire family with some kind of narcotic just to get them all looking in the same direction, let alone smiling at the same time.

But, I get it, you want to know how to get that photo...that one. prize. photo for posterity's sake. (Don't we all).
Well, let's do this! Where there is a will, there is a way.

Color Coordinating
This is the most difficult decision to be made of the entire event and, depending on your family size, can be the most costly. There are several things to consider in choosing your wardrobe. First of all, and most importantly, everyone. must. coordinate (not necessarily match - there IS a difference). Not only does it make for a more pleasing photograph to view, it looks more tasteful. It is worth every extra minute spent diligently searching for that one shirt in just the right color or skirt with just the right pattern to pull off the look you are wanting. (Plus, everyone gets new duds out of the deal which is just more incentive for them to suck it up and get it over with!)
Something else to consider that you may not have thought of is where in your home to plan on displaying this photo? You want the clothes in your picture to compliment the most prominent color in that room. Otherwise, it will get lost and looked over. Are you planning to give it as a gift? You need to consider this same concept for the receiver's space. The easiest and most convenient colors are most often neutrals paired with a darker neutral such as the classic-never-out-of-style white with denim or khaki pants (and this has so many cool modern twists to it now!). Also, try to stick with 2 or 3 main colors with 1 accent color/metal. For example, if you've chosen white, cream and ivory shirts with grey pants, skirts and shorts, don't have a lone child in a yellow vest, unless yellow is your accent color and everyone else is wearing just a touch of it (headband, flower pin, etc). Otherwise, your family and their beautiful faces get lost in a sea of color. The only exception, I personally have found, to this rule is pastels. You can pick as many coordinating pastels as you want and it seems to turn out well every time. As far as patterns go, beware! It's easy to go overboard here. It's best to pick the child(ren) to wear a pattern. If you have one child wear floral, one wear a coordinating striped coat and everyone else in solids, this is perfectly acceptable.
But above all else - DO. NOT. wear all black! It's dreary. It's dark. And it ends up making you all look like a bunch of floating heads.

Consider this photo. Although it's a good shot, they look like they just came from a funeral in this attire and their torsos get mingled in the sea of black and all you see is heads, upon heads, upon...well, you get the idea. There's no dimension!

For inspiration on color schemes visit
For inspiration on outfit ideas or to create your own for future reference visit

Glitz and Glam
Don't be shy here! If your daughter has a favorite headband, your husband a favorite bowtie and you a favorite pair of dangly earrings, wear them! This moment in time is a time to capture YOU and your unique family. What a perfect way to flash a bit of your family's personal style into the picture then by adding some of your favorite things? It adds pizzazz and dimension, an extra element of interest for the eye to observe. And don't forget the family pet(s)!

Indoor or Outdoor, That is the Quandary
This is tricky. The outdoors during the Fall is simply majestic and breath-taking and most photographers live for this time of year simply for the festive display of color outside. Make sure to have a Plan B: Too cold outside? Raining? Blustery? Allergies giving your eyes fits?
It's. OK!
Most professional photographers plan ahead for instances like this and will work with you to make your Plan B just as agreeable as your original plan, should you choose to give it the axe.
Nowadays, there are so many cool backdrops that studio photographers can get and the props to get ahold of are endless! Consider having the photographer come to your home where your kids will feel more at ease and relaxed and more likely to smile genuinely (rather than looking like their best friend from Pre-K drew their smile on for them).

Props add another element of interest to the photo. Make sure they aren't the entire focus, however! If you've decided to take photos outside this Autumn, a vintage basket of red and green apples or sunflowers dumped over to one side is the perfect accent. But be wise in these prop layers. If you're sitting on a long bench as a family and have hay bales in the background with the basket of apples and a pile of leaves at your feet and the family is holding a frame to frame their faces in front of a field of sunflowers - it's overkill.

Be Yourselves
It's natural to want (no, more like covet) that one perfect shot for your family. But let's be honest, that is relative. It all depends on how you look at it. It may not be the one where everyone is smiling perfectly and sitting up straight, curls and collars all primped and pinned. It may be the outtake of your daughter crossing her eyes in exasperation or the one of your husband desperately trying to keep Fido's tongue off the baby's face. My absolute favorite family photo didn't have my favorite facial expressions or hair position or clothing tucked in just right. However, it is my favorite because my son is giving a thumbs up, which shows off the complete epicness of his feeling for our little family!

This is an example of the perfect (indoor) family photo. Everyone coordinates but is not matchy-matchy. There is texture all over - in the ruffles of the babies' skirts, the feathers on big sister's skirt, the lace on the oldest sister's jacket, dad's bowtie and brother's glasses. The family pet is even included in the one cool prop.

And BONUS! Here is a cool printable (FREE, of course!) for organizing, coordinating and budgeting your family photos (as we know these precious memories can tend to eat a substantial chunk of a tight budget this time of year).

I hope these few tips help to ease your anxiety and answer your questions when it comes to this year's photo shoot. And by they way, maybe that delusional island isn't such a long and treacherous journey to get to after all!
Good luck and HAVE FUN!!

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