Sunday, November 10, 2013

Color combinations for family photos

'Tis the season for Christmas cards and we all know what that means... family photo shoots! I've recently photographed a few families and have been asked about how to choose outfits in different color schemes.

I pulled together a few outfit options from some of my favorite retailers (Carter's, Gymboree, Old Navy and Gap). You'll see examples of a Red + Brown and Pink + Navy. You can find sources to all these wardrobe pieces after I share some photo tips.

Here are a few of tips for group photos:
  1. If it's intimidating for you to choose colors, limit your palette to two dominant colors. Most holiday cards out there will let you customize colors to match, or complement, the colors in your outfits. I think two colors maximizes the visual impact of the photographs, especially if you'll be using a collage of pictures in your holiday card design. The eye prefers the ease of scanning over just a couple repeating colors rather than a full rainbow of colors.
  2. Aim for a balance of color saturation near the face of each person. What I mean by this is to avoid dressing family members in super contrast of colors, for example if someone is wearing a solid black shirt and another person is wearing solid white. It's not that it can't ever work (think bride and groom), but for balanced exposure it's helpful to have each subject wear similar shades or saturations of color so that no one looks washed out or even stands out too much. Overall, I prefer rich colors because I think the vividness evokes a celebratory holiday feel.
  3. Avoid too many large patterns. I'm all about mixing and matching patterns. I think it gives the photographs a more textured, interesting look. However, you should aim for smaller prints, like pinstripes or gingham or small polkadots or florals rather than big, loud patterns that could give more visual weight to one family member over another. Statement pieces have their place, of course. For instance, a woman could choose a solid blouse with one dramatic jewelry item like a necklace or earrings. Or a man could opt for a solid sweater but wrap a scarf around his neck that has more of a pattern to it. Same thing goes for children (think accessories like headbands, hats and ties). Consider subduing a patterned top with a solid jacket or sweater vest. You still get the pop but it's a bit tamer than going all out. The goal is for the whole family to photograph evenly.