What To Wear: Extended Families



Dressing an Extended Family Session

By: Michelle Tiek of Michelle Tiek Photography & Design


Summer is about over and Fall is approaching!  The summer and fall seasons are usually when photographers book tons of family portrait sessions.  It’s not uncommon for those family portrait sessions to include multiple generations.  It’s so fun to capture images of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents all together.

Here in the mid-west, wearing all white or black for a large family portrait session is a “popular” thing to do.  As a photographer, we always cringe when they tell us that they are all wearing black or white.  How can we get our families to wear color and pattern without sounding pushy?  The answer is “gentle suggestion”…..and even offering to go out and shop for them!

We recently had the privilege of photographing a family containing four generations!  The first thing that we did was ask them to pick 2-4 colors that they thought they’d like to wear.  The decided on summery colors such as turquoise, hot pink and coral.  They also allowed us to pick out all of their outfits!  They were a photographer’s dream family!!  We started with the little kids.  Sometimes it’s the easiest for the photographer to get the family to put their little ones in colors and patterns!!  The outfit in the photo below was our inspiration piece.  All of the outfits were then built around this color palatte.  We chose this outfit because it had color, texture, pattern….and she just looks adorable in it!



We then moved on to the rest of the little ones.  Here’s what we came up with.  All of these clothes were found at Marshalls, Crazy 8, Target, Children’s Place, etc.  Nothing was more than $10/piece.




Because they are all wearing the same color palate, the kiddos look great together as a cousin group and also in their individual images!



Once we had the kids outfits picked out, we moved on the rest of the family.  We just asked them all to wear something that they felt comfortable wearing…that also stayed within the color palate of the kid’s wardrobe.  We communicated to them that having some of them in patterns and some in solid colors would look the best.  We also encouraged the spouse groups to coordinate their outfits so that we could get some “couples” images too.  Here’s what they came up with.



Once we put them all together…..it was just beautiful!  The colors popped and really helped communicate the happy energy of this family! It didn’t matter which combination of people we put together, they all looked coordinated….yet not matchy-matchy.



This family was so great to work with!  We encourage you NOT to be afraid to guide your clients on what you’d like them to wear.  They generally want the help and want to know what looks great in photos.  If you feel up to it….ask them for a budget, and you go ahead and shop for the little kids.  It’s so much fun and also ensures that the clients will look great!  Once they get their image back, they will thank you for guiding them away from the traditional “white shirts, khaki shorts” images that they are use to getting.

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Sondra Stinson - August 17, 2011 - 11:59 am

Love this! Very helpful! and I love love love the shot of the kids running away from the camera :)

Suzanne - August 17, 2011 - 9:42 pm

I love the little boy’s painted toe nails! Gymboree is a great store for coordinating colors too.

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