Family Portraits, aka Shopping Enabling

1 Jul

I wouldn’t say I’m very traditional, but when I was little, it used to annoy me how my mom didn’t take more pictures of us. And after a few early trips to Olan Mills, we never had formal pictures taken by a real photographer. I just didn’t understand it: didn’t she want to document these wonder years before they were just dust in the eye of an eagle flying over a distant mountain peak*?

*That sentence brought to you courtesy of my 12 year old self.

Which is why I’ve been weirdly and secretly obsessed with getting pictures taken of my own family, now that I have one of those. Nowadays the formal sitting with props had made way for magazine-esque, photojournalistic type photos, but some things never change. Things like the necessity for new clothes.

There are very few occasions in life that, to my mind, are not vastly improved by a new outfit. The cool thing about family photos, clothes-wise, is that you need everything to look good together, and probably be stain-free (in the case of children. And husband. Fine! And me. ). That requires outfit planning and shopping, i.e. my life’s purpose.

There are a couple blogs I referenced for choosing clothing for family pictures that can explain much better (and in WAY more detail) than I can how to do it.  I recommend you read them. But I did want to show you my [somewhat loose] interpretation of their [very detailed and well planned] advice. Because that’s useful too, right? Practical application.

Step 1: Think about what color combos you like and would look good on you (for example, I love magenta but it doesn’t look great with red hair). Go to this site, but try not to do it unless you have like four hours free. It’s addictive.

Step 2: Pick one patterned item and get the rest of the family’s colors of of that. I suppose some really advanced dressers (or those with larger families where it could be spread around) could go for multiple patterns and mixing, but I’m sticking with the KISS method on my first try. And since I rightly figured T would be central in most of the photos, I chose him to wear the patterned item from which all outfits spring.


Step 3: Try to not make everyone where the same color in the same place. So for instance, I tried not to use my base neutral color (navy) on everybody’s top half.

Step 4: This isn’t really a step, but I just want to say neutral bases are boring. It was a huge yawn fest buying P yet another pair of khakis when he COULD be getting this awesome pair.


(I just keep telling myself–if he was an adventurous dresser, where would that leave me as the fashion authority in this outfit? No pun intended, heh heh).

Step 5: Don’t worry about trends. By which I mean, don’t worry about your picture looking dated in terms of what colors you pick (hello, white and khaki galore from the ’00s). At first I was stressing myself out trying to determine how to keep my color scheme interesting, yet timeless. But let’s be real–you’re taking photos of very quickly growing children. They’re clearly going to be dated by this time next year.

I also discovered a few pertinent facts during this process.

Fact: Layering is hard hot in the summer

Fact: Considering the color of your walls (where the picture will hang) in choosing a color scheme strikes me as a little anal retentive unnecessary. But go for it if it rings your bell.

Fact: Most men will not wear pink or purple, even as a “pop.” (P.S. Can we please please PLEASE come up with a new phrase for pop of color? My brain is going to boil and drain out my nose if I have to read it much more).

Fact: There are very few ways to “accessorize” the modern male (ah, what would I give for the days of cravats and spats).

With these steps and facts in mind, I settled on a color scheme of blue and khaki with heavy notes of teal and a splash (how ’bout that??) of coral.

OK fine, it’s orange. But coral makes it sound so much less….crayola, ya know?

I bought every piece of all three outfits in about 30 minutes at Target for under$120. How to shop at this extremely advanced professional level is a whole n’other lesson. (I could teach you, but I’d have to charge).


Just kidding.



One Response to “Family Portraits, aka Shopping Enabling”


  1. Black Thursday? Discuss. | Cushion Cut - November 25, 2013

    […] are doing it: more than 35 million of them last year, evidently. Look, you guys know that I am a big fan of shopping. But shouldn’t there be just one sacred moment in the year, even if it does end at 12:01 AM? […]

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