I love how our Mad Tea Party turned out!
There will be more, but editing them this year takes FOREVER! So once they're all done, I'll dedicate a post to our photos.
Now, every year when they come out, I'm bombarded with requests for help and advice and ideas for family photos. So here's how we do it! I'd like to point out that my husband and I have several talents, aptitudes and abilities that hugely factor into the outcome of our photos. We do almost everything ourselves and spend a LOT of time planning and executing our photo.
I'm also going to show you some previous photos that might inspire without so much drama.
So, here goes!
Pick a Theme - and let it evolve. If you want a theme. Not every family photo has to have a theme.
This year, we decide in August, while in Bermuda, that we would do a Mad Tea Party Theme. Originally we were all going to be characters - Dad was the Mad Hatter, I was Alice, Lola was the Queen of Hearts, Ryder was the White Rabbit, Chloe was the Cheshire Cat and Piper was the March Hare. But ultimately we decided just to be mad versions of ourselves. We always find ourselves walking the line of being too theatrical. We do want to be ourselves in the photos, just editorial versions!
Last year was Vintage Circus - and we did have characters, but again, they didn't take over ourselves and become too costum-y. Example:
|Chloe - The Lion Tamer|
|Lola - A Clown|
|Ryder - Circus Roadie|
|Sandra - The Impressario|
|Piper - Tightrope Walker|
Daddy was the Ringmaster, but I can't find a photo of just him. But notice how we didn't get TOO costum-ish. We do editorialized versions, inspired by characters. No, we wouldn't wear these clothes on the street, but we don't look like actual circus characters either.
You don't have to go so editorial, either.
This was from 2010 and we went with a color palette and atmosphere. It was something of a metro-country look. Two different styles that meshed really well together, especially with our location.
This bounces directly off of your theme and/or color palette and atmosphere. This is where things can easily go horribly wrong! We'll get to location in a minute, but the two go hand in hand, so think about balance.
OK! So let's start with a non-character inspired shoot. Or, if you don't pick a dramatic "theme" such as Mad Tea Party or Vintage Circus. Your wardrobe is more personality driven. You need to pick a color palette! I don't mean "BLUE" and EVERYONE only wears blue. Don't be totally stuck with one color. It will end up looking cheesy if everyone is in aquamarine shirts. Pick a few colors - this year we wore blue, pink and green.
But see how used different shades and patterns? Don't worry if a pop of red works it's way in or you have different shades of pink. Everyone is coordinated but it doesn't look overworked. And please, PLEASE - don't put everyone in denim shirts. The 90's are over, folks.
Sometimes simple is just nice...this is from way back in 2006! Black, white and blue!
Now, for our very themed photos - first, within our theme, there are color palettes and sometimes repeating patterns:
Here we have a white/ivory, black and red palette. With some grey, and lots of pattern! Stripes and plaids. Made for an interesting shot. And while I was worried that Lola's brown boots would be ugly, they gave it a sense of authenticity.
How do we get our wardrobe? Believe it or not, I RARELY sew anything from scratch. Everything in this photo was pulled from our personal clothing or purchased at Savers. We spent less than $100 on this shoot. Including shoes, accessories and props. I didn't buy anything! I had the striped top which I just had to cut down a bit because it was a mock turtleneck, had the corset that I found at Savers a while before for like $8, also had the shoes - a previous Savers purchase as well. The leggings were from my old rockstar character from my birthday service. I made the skirt with some fabric I had - just added a waistband to some long fabric and gathered it up. The gloves were from some other costume and they were 2 left gloves, but I just cut the tips off of the fingers and you would have never noticed. Other things I altered were Chloe's vest (it was a womans size, so I took it in), Pipers dress (also a woman's size), Ryder was wearing girl pants, just don't tell him, I had to make Lola's red petticoat smaller and Pipers Belt/supsenders were an arts and crafts project. Steve wore a hooded vest under an old tailcoat that we took the sleeves off of and added the suspenders to the front.
LAYERING is a huge tip! Layer those costumes up. Keeps it interesting. Don't be afraid to mix patterns and colors, but use and editing eye.
This years photo was an excellent course in costume editing, and me happening to pick up some random items at a good price when I saw them.
Here's a rundown from left to right. We didn't do quite so well on costumes this year, we spent a bit more, but they also evolved a lot. Originally we were going to be much more costum-y, with big hats and lavish gowns, but as we gathered, we ended up going more editorial, which I am happy about. A lot of our original plans changed, it's important to go with the flow. So, L to R:
Lola - Originally Piper was going to have a feather skirt but we found her pink petticoat, so we decided to give it to Lola. And we also had found a beautiful gown for a song at Savers that she was going to wear with some funky alterations, but she hated it and ultimately we ixnayed it - we didn't want to have a grumpy girl on photo day. So a chartreuse long sleeve t-shirt (worn backwards to hide the graphic on the front) and fur vest from Target were a last minute replacement, meaning I had to make the skirt from scratch, but it was easy enough.
Ryder - Don't tell him, but he's wearing girl pants again. The girls section just has more interesting textures! I had to take them in for his skinny bum! Then his vest is actually a womans vest that I took in. His shirt was dyed and his tie was from an old costume of ours. We had purchased a coat for him, but it didn't dye well so we just ditched it. Oh, and his boots came from Savers along with the rest of his costume.
Chloe - Chloe is always a challenge because of her extreme skinniness! She's wearing 2 pairs of leggings - the pink striped ones are size 6's - and she's wearing a 6x t-shirt with attached ruffles under her jacket. Her jacket is a woman's size that I took in at the shoulders and sleeves/side seams. Then that belt - well, it was a find! I was going to make her a little corset, but we found that belt and that was it! Her boots were a Savers splurge at $15, but that's good for boots and she can wear them all the time. She's wearing 3 of my necklaces.
Piper - Piper's was a last minute save! We had a hard time finding a top for her. The pink petticoat was a 70% off post halloween costume that we cut the top off of and the skirt was a woman's skirt that we took in and played with. The striped socks were from her halloween costume. She went through several tops until I put that green one on her - it was a one shouldered dress that I found at a store and grabbed for another project but didn't use, so we took it in, cut it off and voila! She had a top! We layered it with 2 of my necklaces and some bracelets.
Me - I was the first one to have a costume and the last one to change it almost completely. I had a purple princess costume I had never finished, so I was going to alter it with another dress. We had decided to use the black boa with it and I found the lace jacket (which I bought at full price! Yikes! But sometimes you have to when you're looking for something specific, you have to!) Once all of the other pieces for everyone else were coming together, I started to feel like I would be too much! So Steve and I started thinking and I put on a dress I had just bought for a concert, which I liked but ultimately didn't think was quite so flattering. I had also bought that pink one for the concert but didn't use it because I thought it looked too juvenile So I tried it on and it worked! It was actually 2 dresses put together - it was too short on it's own so I purchased 2 of them ($6 ea) to make it longer and I had to put in a new zipper. I bought the teal tights at Target and got to use my new blue shoes and I ended up loving the look. The earrings were from Susie's Deals - $4!
Steve - He found the pants months ago but put some dye on them to take them from Kelly Green to the color you see. The vest was a costume piece we had and his scarf was from Savers. His coat and boots were an early Christmas gift from me when we were in LA. He also has on a tank top to add that bit of color at the waist. Layering!
So, yes...we spend hours shopping, altering and trying on. It's really a lot of effort! We spend LOTS of time researching for inspiration as well - google image search, pinterest....lots and I'll show you some for this shoot in the next section.
THREE: Hair & Makeup (because it goes hand in hand with wardrobe)
Once we FINALLY had our wardrobe pretty much figured out, I started looking for hair ideas. Here's some I found on Pinterest:
I used a hairpiece on her because her isn't long. She loved it!
Yup, Christina Aguilara from the Lady Marmalade video. Of course we did with out the crazy jewelry. And I braided her wet hair the night before in dozens of tiny braids to get the crimped look. She also loved it!
I used this for my eye makeup! It was so nice to follow and turned out great.
Well, I think that's enough for today! Next we'll discuss Location, Posing and Editing!