My Family

My Family

Welcome to our Front Window

Welcome to my blog! I'm Michelle and am a mother and a photographer. You will see pictures of my amazing clients here, as well as my three beautiful children. You may even see some shots of my handsome hubby. I take my camera everywhere I go, capturing life as we know it now. Kick off your shoes and stay awhile. Glad you stopped by.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choosing what to Wear

Choosing what to wear for your portrait session can be such a chore and feel overwhelming at times. Michelle Ravencroft and myself are going to give you helpful easy tips to follow when selecting your special wardrobe so that you feel less stressed and have some direction when planning for your portrait session.

I do want to start by saying that I know that not everyone can afford to go buy brand new outfits for all family members for their shoot. I hope that we can provide helpful tips to utilize things you might already have in your closet to make for a memorable photo.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when starting this process:

1. Fashion photographs well.

Even if you are not a super trendy person you can still introduce the "current" trends into your wardrobe. To make it simple maybe start with a *hot* color that you happen to like. For example bold colors are in right now... and mixing those bold colors. Do you have a favorite red sweater or orange scarf? For boys plaids are also totally in. Plaid is great to work with because it introduces you to a whole different color pallet. It really broadens your options. Prints in general are great. It provides interest and personality. Feel free to mix prints too. I do not suggest putting every family member in a print but maybe 2-3 of you, depending on the family size and style. (Some of my clients even bring a second shirt to change into too... that is helpful also to have options)

Jackets, scarves and layering is also in. Assuming either Michelle or I are doing your portraits your session is probably most likely outside so use that to your advantage. Is there a jacket you love or even a fashionable coat that looks great on you? Layers also add interest. Now for myself laying clothing is not necessarily the most flattering, it can be too bulky at time so do what will work best for you. Scarves are also probably the best and most affordable way to add color to your wardrobe. For $12-$14 you can bring a simple white shirt and dark jeans up to date. One great place to find affordable trendy clothes for you kids would even be Target (Michelle shares her own secret shopping spots in a bit). They have great puffy vests for boys and fun leggings for girls. Other sites like offer designer clothes at a discount. You just have to watch the page daily to know what they are offering, but sometimes the hunt is half the fun :). Also if you know you get pictures done annually, watch sales months before you shoot to score unique deals.

I personally think when you are planning what to wear for pictures, take your wardrobe for "picture" day just one step up. If you choose your favorite dress or even your favorite jeans add a tad more makeup, adorable shoes, little bit bigger jewelry than you might usually wear- all this will go a long way in a photo. Like this family. Now Michelle always looks outstanding and put together and her kids are always adorable but this is just a tad bit more than they would wear on a normal day. Michelle chose to have her makeup done by her favorite makeup artist who came to her home. How fun is that?

I think it is fun to freeze the fashion times :). How fun is it to look back at your grandparents or your childhood photos and see what was popular in regards to fashion. When planning what you will wear for your photo shoot, you may have to buy some new clothes but it will be worth it!!!

2. COLOR! Color matters, even in a black and white photo color matters. Color adds interest, balance and personality to the photo. Here is a quick little lesson in color :)

Know Your Colors!
no need to pay attention to the degree's I just liked the this wheel :)
One of the most beautiful weddings I assisted on was a wedding where the bride chose her wedding colors according to the color wheel. The thing about the color wheel is you have to let go of supposed "rules" you think there may be. Photography is about light and about how we see light. Certain colors together are actually easier on the eyes and create balance. The colors that compliment each other the most are the colors that are directly across from one another. Versions of those colors compliment each other too. I feel like blue is a very versatile color. Just like with blue jeans. There isn't a color that clashes with blue jeans.

Maybe you have your daughter and yourself wear the magenta/ bright pink while the guys in the family where cyan/ teal. Or blue & yellow... Here Michelle incorporated several colors to pull their look together. Blue, Pops of Orange and Yellow. These colors are throughout their wardrobe. This is such a good example of how color can balance a photo. Your eye wants to look several places at once, therefore you actually "see" more of the picture. (It is a fine line between busy and balanced, but your photographer should be able to help balance the photo when posing.) Michelle told me that she felt if she had had both boys in just their shirts, it would have been too busy.  The sweaters gave it a more subtle/clean look, with a little tease of the patterned shirts showing through.

If all of these feels a little too much for you, maybe start small and accessorize with the complimenting color.

Michelle chose blue from the cool side of the wheel and yellow and orange from the warm side.

3. Comfort matters!
I think maybe the only area to sacrifice comfort might be in a great pair of shoes but if it is murder to wear them for even a few minutes, find something else. If you have a lot of walking maybe bring something else. If you are uncomfortable it will show in pictures, especially for maternity pictures. I always tell my maternity clients "BE COMFORTABLE". This is my #1 rule for my pregnant friends out there.

4. Family Portraits are an investment, so treat them that way. Granted I would rather you invest in photos and come dressed in your everyday clothes if that is all that fits in your budget.  If you can make it work though, look at the photo's as an investment. I know for myself I will spend quite a bit every few months to get my hair done.  How long with the color last? Six weeks maybe? For that same amount of money I could invest in photographs that will last a lifetime and are priceless.

5. Scenery Matters. Matching your clothing to your portrait location is important. You'd hate to go to a green park and show up in green yourself... you'll be camouflaged!.. Well not really but you get my point. Choose clothing that will POP. Talk with your photographer ahead of time to find out colors that will work well with your location. Also the style of clothing can clash with your surroundings and it can make for a confusing subject. Your personal style and your photographers style should complement each other. I almost want to know what my client plans to wear before I pick our destination.

I interviewed Michelle to pick her brain on how she plans for a shoot. I did their photo's back in April as well and of course they looked stunning then too! Michelle is a friend of mine and a fellow photographer so she really does have a leg up in this area. I think she should do consults :) he he... anyways she offers some great tips from the clients point of view.

What are your first steps in planning for a shoot?
I like to figure out what type of images I want to have created. Depending on the season, I try and think about one dream image in my head of our family and what it would look like. What would we be doing and what would our clothes look like? For our last photo shoot I had one dream image in my head of us drinking hot chocolate in fallish looking clothes. I wanted a little more dressed up look but still casual. I knew I wanted my daughter and I in dresses and that I wanted to wear my brown tall boots. :) That is what I started with and it went from there.

Where do you get your color inspiration?
My color inspiration comes from our home. Our home is decorated in reds, tans, browns, and yellows. I want our images to be able to be hung in our home and match with everything.

...See Michelle viewed their session as an investment and was purposeful is what she chose to wear so that the pictures would go nicely in their house. She also invests in professional printing so that her prints are archival and great quality.

Whose outfit did you plan first?
My daughter Makenna's outfit was the first outfit I chose for our last shoot. I am in LOVE with Persnickety clothing and I knew I wanted her outfit to come from there. I chose her dress, and headband and then planned everything around that. Her dress was a yellow dot print and her headband had blue, yellow, grey and green in it. Those four colors I carried through into everyone else's clothing choices. I ended up adding a fifth color of orange (husband's sweater and my jewelry) for our pop of color. I ended up adding brown leggings (honestly so she wouldn't freeze) to Makenna's dress since brown usually goes well with everything!

What sites/stores do you suggest when shopping for unique awesome clothing? (for girls) (for the whole family) (for kids) (for the whole family)
All of these stores are awesome!!

Do you think it is easier to dress boys or girls for a shoot?
I think girls are easier because there are a lot of options. Skirts, dresses, tights, headbands, etc. Lots of fun accessories for girls are out there too! I usually find my daughter's outfit first and then work our clothes around that.

Any other tips?
I find that browsing Pinterest really helps with inspiration. What type of family photography images do I love? I like to examine the images I do love and figure out why I love them. Is it the pose? Clothes? What about the clothes do I love?
For the last year I have looked through a lens at many different families getting their picture taken. A few things I have taken away from all of these shoots.
1) Layers look awesome.
2) Having the clothes go together but not being too matchy matchy looks best.
3) Accessories add so much visual interest.
4) Pops of color add a lot to the picture.
5) Being comfortable in what you are wearing is important!

I always lay out all the clothes on our bed a few days before. I look to see how everything looks together and if I need to add anything or rethink something. Getting someones opinion on your clothing choices can help sometimes!

Here are some explames of clothing that they choose for their spring shoot. Both sessions were well planned and they were adorable to photograph!
And there you have it folks! A photographer and a talented client/photographer's tutorial on dressing for success!
You can find me, Jessica Bowers,  at
You can find Michelle Ravencroft at


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