Family Portrait Dos and Don’ts

Colors that complement make for a stunning family portrait.

Colors that complement make for a stunning family portrait. Photographic Designs

By Abby

It’s that time of year again: family portrait season. As our family grows, we’ve been thinking about it more and more. Elle is grandmother to four, soon to be five, children, and our family that used to be just five people is now in the double digits!

I prefer to take family photos in the fall or winter because everyone can layer. Layering gives the photos more texture and depth. Plus you can give them away as gifts or use them as holiday cards.

The key to great looking family photos is to coordinate — not necessarily match — your outfits. When everyone is wearing the same thing, you all blend together. Conversely you don’t want everyone’s outfits to clash. So pick a color scheme so that everyone has some freedom to choose their outfit and still look as though they belong to the larger group.

Not So Good Family Portrait

Busy patterns make it hard to detect where one person begins and the other ends.

Men can more easily wear neutral pants with a colorful shirt, while the women can balance the neutral pants on the men with colorful skirts, leggings or pants.

I think the hardest part about family portraits is how you can present yourself as an individual if you are perhaps wearing clothes (or colors) that aren’t really you. The answer: accessories. Wear whatever the Family Boss tells you to and accessorize with something that is uniquely you. With accessories, you can add pops of bright colors if the predominate colors are neutral.

If you are having the family photo done professionally you won’t need to worry about placement and All That Jazz. If you are doing it yourself, you might need to worry about All That Jazz. For example, beware of the background. The background should be simple, you want the focus to be on the family, though simple doesn’t necessarily mean blank. Fireplaces make nice backgrounds but be aware any decorations on the mantel. No one looks good with a fern growing out of their ear or a candlestick balanced on top of their head.

The front door of the house may be a good choice for a background. Windows also make for a good background, provided that the view outside is appealing, but beware of glare or reflections that can be distracting.

One last thing to think about is where you are going to display the family portrait. If you are going to get a wall-sized canvas to go over your fireplace, for example, you may want to have the family wear colors that complement the colors in the room.

PS: Abby and Elle are taking off time for the holidays, so you may not hear from us until the New Year. In the meantime, please accept our best wishes for a safe, joyous holiday season, and a bright and happy New Year!

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