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Randi Baird

Dressing for success for Family Portraits

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Martha’s Vineyard is a special place for families to spend quality time together, relax, unplug, and unwind in nature. Beautiful family memories are made on this coastal island, and we find ourselves capturing an abundance of Family Portraits during this time of year. One of the first and most obvious questions we hear from parents is, “What should we all wear?” Understandably, we all want to look our best, and Family Photos are a special time to get everyone together for a memorable occasion.

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Fear not; with a few simple strategies–properly coordinating colors and patterns and keeping it comfy and true to your style–you’ll have your brood outfitted appropriately in no time.

Here are our tips for choosing your Family Portrait wardrobe wisely. Remember that these considerations are just as practical when organizing a DIY family photo shoot. And if you’re still looking for professional shots this season, get in touch; we’d love to work our magic with your family!

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Wardrobe

First and foremost, you want your family dressed comfortably. Show off your family’s unique style; the more comfortable you and your family are, the more natural the photos will look! 

A classic, nautical palette that compliments the natural backdrop of the Island is a combination of blues and whites. Don your family in different shades of blue–think navy, sky, and royal, along with white and khaki or denim. If you’re looking for something bolder and brighter, a la Lily Pulitzer works off a palette of coral, bright blue or teal, and pink. And, of course, Nantucket red, it’s Martha’s Vineyard, after all! You can pair that with whites and denim and light pastels like muted yellows and mint green for a more understated look with color.

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Coordinate outfits using color palettes 

You want to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors that work well together, and we recommend choosing 2-3 colors to use as a palette and having everyone wear various shades of those colors. Pastel colors look great for tops or blouses; khakis, beige slacks, and white or blue jeans also look great. Light and dark blues, teals, pinks, purples & soft colors look great with a tan and beside the ocean. Think color, style, and comfort!

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Keep it simple 

Choose smaller patterns that won’t distract from the subject matter. Avoid wearing branded clothing with words or logos, as these styles can draw attention away from the subject. You can be bold and dress your family in prints, as long as they complement one another, and avoid too bold or flashy types. We also recommend avoiding turtlenecks as they tend to crowd the face. 

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Dress for the weather, but don’t dress bulky. Think about the temperature and time of day you’re taking the photo. The Vineyard cools down very quickly in the evening, and locations near the water can come with a chilly breeze. Bulky clothes are not as flattering, so we recommend bringing sweaters or jackets as an optional part of your family’s outfit in case they’re needed. 

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Be Prepared

When considering your outfits, it’s best to prep everything at least a day in advance. It’s not fun to iron your family’s outfits while trying to do hair and makeup and rush out the door. Pick your outfits at least a few days before the shoot, and iron the day before! That way, it’s more laid back and enjoyable when the day comes. 

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Hair and Makeup

Keep your hair and makeup natural. Wear your hair as if you were going out for a special dinner, or however you feel most comfortable! Be mindful that it could be windy by the water, so you’ll want something to tie back long hair if necessary (we always carry extra ties too).

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We suggest you also keep your makeup natural, as this might not be the time for experimenting with a bold look. We love a little powder to reduce shine and light lip gloss and mascara to enhance the eyes! 

For men, we usually recommend a clean-shaven look. This doesn’t mean shaving your beard off; just trim it up for a clean appearance! If you plan to get your hair cut, we suggest doing it one week before the session so it’s at a natural-looking length.

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Accessorize

Choose props and accessories wisely. Hats can look great on kids and make for extra cute shots, along with big bows and headbands! We usually find smaller and simple jewelry looks best. Please don’t force your child into clothing or accessories they’re weary of or uncomfortable in. That goes for you as well. Everyone photographs best when they feel like themselves! If you have a favorite top or go–to outfit that you consider a second skin and love- wear it.  

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If you’re on Martha’s Vineyard and need some last-minute staples, check out Island Outfitters in Oak Bluffs and The Great Put On in Edgartown for hip, stylish pieces, and Vineyard Vines has something for everyone in the family. In the case that you still need to decide what to wear, we suggest you pack a second outfit to bring to the session, and do the same for any small children that might get messy.

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My goal as a photographer is to ensure that the session is a fun experience for the entire family, where everyone can unwind and have a great time. Ultimately, no matter what attire, hairstyles, or makeup choices are made, they can never overshadow the heartwarming moments shared among family members, and that is what we are capturing. For even more tips on preparing for the perfect Family Portrait, click here.