This is the most common question I am asked with family groups. And when dealing with multi-families it can be even more complex.
Definitely give your family some guidelines.
When a family says, “come as you are” it will look like a snap shot, and the photos won’t have the level of polish that they could.
So where to start.
I like to tell people to choose a bright color then a coordinating color, and lastly a neutral or two.
I suggest keeping the bright color to a minimum. It can be an accent piece like a necklace, a kid’s dress or jacket. But wear mostly neutrals likes, grays, black, whites and tans.
For example, I love blue, gray and tan/white with the pictures below. I even love the variety of floral and patters.
I think they all go very well together and nothing stands out as too dominate.
Yellow, navy and gray/white.
I tell clients to put the bright color on the girls, but don’t over use the bright color.
Pink, navy/blue and white/gray.
Also, I love stripes, but they should be used sparingly. They work well in small groups, but I would avoid having lots of stripes in large multi family groups.
The eye is drawn to the stripes and therefore anyone wearing stripes will stand out. It’s cute in these photos, but might not be desirable in a large group setting.
But don’t be afraid of going with multiple colors if you want something bright and colorful.
Colors to avoid- Florecents, magenta, bright orange. They just do not photograph well and bounce their color off everything.
Red also can be a difficult color as it also color casts. Red is very dominant. I would use it sparingly.
Pastels are fine as long as not everyone is wearing a pastel shirt. Your clothing needs darks and lights to help balance the portrait.
Don’t forget to pay attention to shoes.
With a big group, it’s easy to forget that the neutral colors should extend to the shoes as well.
Don’t wear colorful shoes that bring attention to your feet. I leave it up to the family if they want to take off their shoes for pictures or not. I’m fine either way.
If you’re still struggling to start,
I tell people to start with something they love- a shirt or a dress, then build off that.
And keep in mind to stay away from logos and sayings on shirts that could distract from a timeless image.
Ultimately what you hang on the wall and adore day after day should capture the essence of your life and family.