How to Style Your Magazine Worthy Holiday Family Photo
Sending cards is my favorite thing to do every holiday season. It brings me the utmost joy to hang up photos of family and friends as they arrive in the mail. (Special shout out to our postal workers that keep going each and every day to deliver all mail this season!) Holiday cards this year have taken on even more meaning when we couldn’t see all of our family and friends from afar. Many things that we wanted to do this season was put on hold. But, the one thing we said we can do is our Christmas card family photo. A tradition we started last year when our baby was only a mere 2 months old.
Ever wonder how that friend of yours always has the perfect holiday card that should be in a magazine? Styling comes as second nature to me. I worked in retail a very long time (and a very long time ago!) and learned quite a few tricks of the trade of how to put together a beautiful ensemble for the whole family without matching too much. Below are a few steps to help you with your family holiday photography session to achieve the perfect look and create a lifetime memory.
Tag us in your family photos via Instagram. We would love to see your photos!
How To Style Your Family Photos
Choose the Right Photographer
If you are taking the time to invest in a published worthy family photo, you must consider the photographer that can deliver this type of luxury. Do your research and a choose a photographer whose style you absolutely adore. Make sure you connect on a personal level as well. It will make the photo session so much better.
Our good friend Alex of Idalia Photography held special family photo sessions this year for past clients. We were so excited to be part of this group. Alex hired a stylist for all the props and pretty details for the outside shoot at a beautiful Christmas tree farm. Alex was kind enough to send us a style board of the scene so we can pick out appropriate outfits as well.
What Alex offered was the perfect match for us. But, we’ve worked with Alex for a long time, so it was easy to choose to her. We already knew she would give us the perfect photo. (She’s already part of our family history. She has done a few of our families events!) So how does one find the perfect photographer? Be sure to ask for recommendations from family and friends of the photographers they used. If you liked someone’s photo from last year, ask them who took the photograph and research the vendor’s website. You may fall in love with their images and want them to photograph your family as well.
No good recommendations and starting from scratch? Take a stroll through Instagram and look under location specific tags. You may come across some photographers you love.
Plan Early & Consider the Timeline
Ever wonder why you walk into Nordstrom in October and see holiday stuff already being displayed? (Here’s looking at you Jimmy Choo shiny gold glitter flats!) Retailers know and understand the art of planning. (This is why us wedding planners give you structure to your special day. If you want beautiful calligraphy for your escort cards, that RSVP date is going to have be a bit earlier than usual.) Try to find your photographer or contact your favorite some time in August. I know this seems crazy early, but dip your toes in to see who is offering a holiday shoot or considering it for the season. This way, you can see who is available, balance your budget, make it work for your schedule and avoid last minute anxiety of putting together the perfect holiday card. By mid-September/early October, most photographers will already be taking reservations for these types of sessions. If you reached out early, you may get first dibs on the schedule.
Also, consider the age of the members of your family. If you schedule a morning shoot around the time your baby naps, reconsider the timing. If you have a teenager who plays video games all night, an afternoon session may be a better fit.
Remember, choose a photographer that will also give you enough time to print your photo cards. If they are holding a shoot on December 1, is that logical to your holiday timeline? Pick a photographer with offerings in early November. It gives you enough time to wait for the picture edits to get back to you and enough time to print cards, stuff envelopes and put them in the mail for your family and friends.
Create a Color Palate
Now, that you have the date and time sorted, it’s on to styling. Start at the basic structure of design: choose your colors. The best way is to choose complementary colors (or perhaps monochromatic) for a photograph. Instead of going into the history of Isaac Newton creating the color wheel and giving a history lesson, hop on over to Canva’s Color Wheel where you can choose a base color and it will give you complementary or monochromatic colors for you.
Consider the Weather and Choose Layers
Layering is a basic design tool that adds dimension to your outfit. It also gives flexibility for real world situations. You may have purchased matching wool sweaters for the whole family, but did you consider that the weather in November in your location may be a bit too warm for that? The last thing you want is all the members of your family sweating while trying to smile for the camera.
Go to your favorite retail websites and look carefully at how the images are taken for their marketing. You will probably see there a few layers to the ensemble. Try to mirror what you see. Instead of a full on sweater, consider a button down shirt and a pull over for your husband. If he gets too hot, he can take off the sweater and hold it over his shoulder for the photo. Love to wear dresses? Throw on a belt and some knee high boots to give your outfit a bit more depth.
Create a Design Board While You Shop Online
I am a visual person. I like to see and feel textures of linens when I design for my events. I have tons of binders of linen samples. It makes it easy for me to put together a vision for my clients.
Shopping for linens can be just as overwhelming as shopping for family outfits. Consider making a design board while you look for clothes for your family. Pop in your color palate to guide you. Below is one I created for my family’s session this year. I’m not a Photoshop master, but I do know my way around. To make it simple for you, you can design board via Canva as well. While shopping, save images of the outfits you like and put them in your board. This way, you can drag and drop outfits to see how they look with each other.
Remember to choose your outfit first. If you are in charge of this project, be sure you are most comfortable. Use that outfit to guide you to the complementary ones for your family. Then share with your partner and go from there. You may even have items in your closet to use already.
Curious to see how our family photo turned out?
Head over to our holiday greeting post here.