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  • Katie Martin-Sperry

How to choose what to wear on your shoot

There's nothing worse than spending significant money on a wonderful family shoot, but then looking back at the photos and seeing someone who looks a bit like you, but just isn't “you”. It's a minefield trying to decide what to wear on a standard Tuesday never mind for photographs that you hope will last a lifetime. The anxiety can be crippling!

But it needn't be - in fact, it's quite straight forward if you follow a few simple rules.

Where to begin? Mum needs to pick her outfit first and the rest will follow.

Next question – how on earth to pick?

Don't be tempted go out and buy something new. As wonderful as it is to have an excuse to go shopping, this isn’t it. There's no point in wearing something that you don't recognise yourself in. I can't count the occasions where I've bought something, worn it for the first time then realised that it hangs differently to how it looked in the shop, or isn't as flattering as I thought, or reveals something I don’t want to reveal! And it’s even worse when you realise after the first couple of wears that it just doesn’t look or feel as good as you first thought. You don’t want to have “that” outfit captured for the long-haul on your mantle piece.

Instead, go with something that you know, that you are comfortable in and that you don't feel self-conscious wearing. Oftentimes, we are uncomfortable enough as it is in front of the camera – don’t let your clothes-choice make that feeling even more acute.

If in doubt, ask your kids what they like you wearing the most. Sometimes you’ll hear the comedy answers that aren’t helpful, but sometimes their answers might be quite insightful. They know what they like seeing you in and what you seem happiest in. Rely on those who know you best to know you best.

Remember that your family shoot is a snapshot in time, with the goal of capturing the magical connection between your gorgeous family. While you of course want to look your best in these photos, it is not a fashion shoot. Your best will be something you already know and love.

Consider your patterns. If your vibe is to wear patterned clothes, just make sure that you are the only one in a pattern – too many patterns and colours can be overwhelming in photos, and can make your images look hectic, and distract from the overall beauty of the image. If in doubt, go with something with less rather than more pattern.

Think about your colours. As a general rule, a simple neutral pallet will always flatter, and will not draw attention away from you in the photographs. Neutral pallets are also easier to coordinate with your family and with your backdrop. However, stay away from black as it’s too heavy and draws light out of the picture.

Consider your backdrop; you don’t want to have any drastic clashes. For example if your backdrop is green, then wearing a strong blue might be too much. Perhaps go with something more muted, like cream or white. The cleaner and simpler the colour of your clothes, the less likely you are to clash with your background.

There’s always a worry that neutral colours might look insipid, but that’s not the case. Given that my shoots are always done in natural light, your skin will shine better against clothes that are in light, bright colours than in darker, heavier tones.

Consider the heat, even if you’re doing an early shoot. Generally speaking, something floaty and loose will always be a winner – and slightly more forgiving than clingy. As is white. Tight clothing is hard to deal with when the heat gets too much. Consider sleeve length for this reason as well. If you are going to be inside, it’s not so much of a big deal as aircon is your friend – but only up to a point. But all the excitement can still result in clothing malfunctions!

Logos are a big no no. Quite often, kids and mens clothes have wording or big logos on them. I strongly recommend avoiding them as you don’t want the focus of your picture to be on what dad has got written on his shirt. It’s always best with men to think of their reaction to heat, and to dress accordingly. And have a back up! Once you start sweating, it’s really hard to stop! The same colour theory applies to men's wardrobes too – muted works best.

For kids, try and match your kids clothes to yours in some respect. For instance if your dress has a bit of blue in it, perhaps try and include a blue shorts for your son or a blue ribbon/accessory for your daughter. There’s no need to go full matchy matchy (unless you’d like to) but just an eye to that detail always looks lovely. Again, whatever the kids look relatively smart but comfortable in is always a winning formula.

For maternity shoots, either clingy to show off your bump or floaty and ethereal is fun too. Floaty clothes can be fun when used to create a gorgeous silhouette with your bump so don’t feel you won’t get to show off your beautiful form in a floaty dress if that’s what you’d like to do. Whatever you feel happiest and most beautiful in is going to work the best.

For headshots, something with a collar often works well to frame your face. They also never fail to look smart; regardless of your general style, it’s always good to look sharp in your mugshot. Sharp clothes, sharp mind.

Finally, have a backup. Just in case. You don’t want to derail the shoot with an accidental water spill or a bird-related accident! It’s worth having something spare, just in case. Whatever you choose, just make sure you choose something you’re comfortable in.

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