What to Wear: Christmas Family Photos

It can make or break your holiday photos – or any photo session for that matter – what you wear. Gone are the days of matching outfits (everyone in black tops or blue jeans and white t-shirts)…

but believe me when I say that I still need to remind clients that it’s not a good idea!

You can add that extra punch to family photos with the right “coordinating” ensembles. Think complimenting, not matching.

Here’s my own rule of thumb:
1.   Choose 2 Neutrals – have each person in the group wear 1 or 2 of the following (Brown, Grey, Black (try to limit), White, Beige, Khaki or Blue Jeans. Yes, blue jeans I count as a neutral – use with caution though, or you could risk having everyone show up in a Canadian Tuxedo…

2.   Choose 2 Complimenting Colours – if you’re at all familiar with the colour wheel, this should come easy to you, but if not, with a quick Google search, you will find it. Choose 2 colours on the opposite side from one another. (In the photo above, tan/beige falls into the yellow area, where the navy colours and jeans fall into the blues – opposite to yellow/tan/beige)

Red and Green  |  Blue and Yellow  |  Green and Pink  |  Purple and Green

3.   Patterns – These you want to limit. I usually advise my clients to choose one person to wear a smaller pattern with the complimenting colours, and another person  – if the group is bigger – with a larger pattern (no more than 2-3 colours) that compliments the first pattern. (eg. small red and black polkadots on a little girl, and larger black/red/grey plaid on brother or dad)

4.   Solids – Have everyone else wear solids that pull colours from the 1 or 2 chosen patterns. Be careful not to overdue it though. One or two people can wear a top/bottom of the chosen colours, but others can wear scarves, ties, shoes, jewellery, etc. that also have that colour.

5.   Layers – adding layers to outfits creates depth and detail to a photo. Jackets, sweaters, scarves, vests, boot socks, hats, etc. all can make a photo more interesting. Again, be careful not to over-accessorize your subjects. Not everyone needs to wear a hat.

6.   Theme – sticking to a “theme” can give your family members ideas for outfits. Here are some suggestions for possible themes:
– Lumberjack
– Neutrals
– Glitzy
– Red and Gold
– Blues and Browns

7.   Personal Touch – What does your family love to do over the holidays? Try and choose to do your photos somewhere meaningful. Does your family play hockey together? Find a local outdoor rink! Do you go to a local tree farm for your Christmas tree? take your photographer with you!

8.   Candid – Ask your photographer to fit in a few candid shots between poses. Sometimes those end up being the best ones – not too posey, when your family is just being natural and who they are everyday.

Hopefully now you can plan your next Christmas family session feeling a little more prepared – but remember (for those of you with little ones), you get what you get, and you shouldn’t ever be upset. Funny photos are the ones you continue to look back on 😉


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