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Ditch White Shirts | Colorful Family Portraits

It’s been way too long. The cooing baby is now playing lacrosse, the three-hour preschool days have stretched into 8-hour school days (before homework), and your snaggletoothed cutie is making college visits. Book that family photo session, ditch the white shirts and let me make fun, beautiful photos that will not be trapped on a smartphone!

It’s your session, so wear what pleases you and makes you feel most at ease (excluding threadbare T-shirts or gear with prominent logos). Your comfort level will show in your clothing choices, which is one more reason the all-white idea just makes families more self-conscious instead of more relaxed. I get it – most people have white shirts, so it’s easy to tell everyone to pull one out and be done with it. In addition, since whites are bleachable, they are usually more uniform than all navy or all black, since both of those colors fade differently and have tinges of green that are noticeable in a group shot.

But let’s not strive to be uniform. Ditch white shirts! And let’s be real – what works on the toddler would look silly on you and ridiculous on grandma, so be you! Nobody does it better. In fact, since you’re going to be photographed, be an even better, more jubilant you!

After a quick scan of some sessions, I dug up some inspiration for various color schemes. I’ll refrain from additional rules if you follow my primary one: Ditch the White Shirts. Seriously. Unless you’re coming straight from Diner en Blanc or are emulating the Modern Family cast years ago, do not sport white shirts. Following are some tips for making that happen:

How to Ditch White Shirts

  1. Start with a print. It may be a Matilda Jane sundress for on the 3-year-old, or it could be a colorful maxi dress that you picked out after you called me. Roll with it!
  2. Identify three hues in the print that the other family members can wear. Prints are great because they are festive and because they help you start with a color scheme that someone else put together. Try to avoid having three hues that are decidedly masculine or feminine, and if you can mix warm and cool shades, go for it! This adds dimension and personality to your photos, lessening your workload. (Kidding!)
  3. Communicate color scheme to the rest of the clan. Gunning for a family reunion shot? Snap a pic of your inspiration print and text this info to everyone involved in your session. “Hey guys!  I’d love it if we could wear coral/aqua/yellow for the beach photos, and I’ve attached a pic of Dad’s hilarious Hawaiian shirt to show you the colors.”
  4. Throw in some neutrals to make it easy. “But I don’t have coral shorts!” he says. Not a biggie. Wear khaki, white, or denim shorts/skirts/pants/jeans. “Can I wear my aqua/white checked button-down? And she has a yellow/white polka dot skirt?” Sure, throw in another pattern or two. Like in home decor, it’s best if the size of the prints vary and don’t compete.
  5. Kick it up a notch. Add a zippy necklace, cute headband, a colorful belt, groovy earrings, a gauzy scarf, a cardigan, etc. Collars (just not too much; mind the breezes!), an architectural neckline, a breezy ruffle, these are all good.
  6. More pro tips: Sleeveless isn’t the best choice for most people. Something that skims the body makes people look smaller than blousy/poofy things that mask all shape. I can’t control the wind, so think about securing long hair if we’re shooting at the beach or on arctic tundra. Finally, bonus points are awarded for considering your clothing in The Group Photo as well as smaller subsets like mom/kids, all adults, grandchildren and elders, all the men, etc. The fewer the people, the more obvious your clothing will be. Choose wisely!

Whew! I already have another blog post in mind after sharing that last idea, but before I trip over myself, I’ll share some timeless photos of happy families. I first met Katie as a glamorous bride, and I just booked her clan for another beach session this summer. Love to watch families grow!

Colorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful, relaxed Charleston family photography. © Carolina PhotosmithColorful Hampton Park family portraits with twinfants. © CaroliColorful Hampton Park family portraits with twinfants. © CaroliColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhBrothers. Ugh. Twin ones? She rolls with it!Colorful family portraits with Carolina Photosmith. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhLove how Kylee found a seamstress on Etsy who used the same fabrics in all three girls’ outfits, but each is unique. A bit of planning can make for an awesome collage of photos on your wall!Colorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhI first photographed Rebecca and Dave on their wedding day. Then came Ila Gray in a Moses basket, Ramsey being a toddler, and next time there will be five!Colorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhSisters who dance like pink and black architecture. Charleston family photography by © Carolina Photosmith

These light dresses would fade away at the beach, but they pop against the pink wall. Consider your backdrop and wear color that will contrast with your setting.

Are you a fan of prints? Me too! Just like in your home decor, you can mix them for photos. Eric and Sarah look great on the foggy beach since his small blue checks meld with the bold paint strokes on her feminine top. And instead of sporting khaki or white up top, their jeans and pants just blend away.

Fun and foggy Folly Beach engagement session © Carolina Photosmith

Embrace color for best photos © Carolina Photosmith

Chilly sessions call for layers. Ellie sported this jaunty purple coat over her chocolate dress. MK was possibly humming “Feed the Birds” from Mary Poppins while pondering the duckies below.Charleston portrait gallery features colorful, unscripted moments

Ditch the white shirts and play for best family photos. CarolinaPhotosmith.comColorful family portraits. Relaxed, fun, vibrant! © Carolina PhColorful, vibrant, unscripted family photography at Boone Hall Plantation. © Carolina PhotosmithEmbrace color for outdoor portraits. Head shots of sales reps byEmbrace color for outdoor portraits. Head shots of sales reps byColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful family photos in historic Charleston. © Carolina PhotoColorful family photos in historic Charleston. © Carolina PhotoDitch the white shirts for best family photos. © Carolina PhotosmithColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful family beach portraits. Contrast against your backgrounColorful Hampton Park family portraits with twinfants. © Caroli

Historic Charleston Engagement. Photography © Carolina PhotosmithEmbrace color for outdoor portraits. Head shots of sales reps byDitch the white shirts! Dozen cousins in birth order, color-code

Yes, I had to wrap with my tots (in yellow!) and their cousins at Ormond Beach. Grandchildren in birth order, color-coded siblings.

Did you catch some flashes of white up above?

Sure you did! You don’t have to banish it completely. Littles are cute in white sundresses, and white linen may be the best backdrop for your ROYGBIV necklace. Just use it sparingly and purposefully, and strive to inject color and pattern. You’ll be so glad when you ditch the white shirts!

Contact Jen to book your session. Oh, and follow me on Pinterest for What to Wear boards for both families and couples. Thanks, y’all!

 

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