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How to Style Your Family for a Photo Shoot

Family gatherings are a perfect opportunity for a photoshoot, whether its a birthday party or festive gathering. However, getting a great family photo sometimes requires a little more than just smiling at the camera. There’s some prep work involved and it’s called “styling”. You don’t have to be a professional fashion consultant to do this. In fact, it’s quite easy! Here are four ways to start having better looking photos with just a little bit of styling done right.


1. Consider your location and backdrop

If your photoshoot coincides with an event such as a birthday party or a dinner, think about how the location will look like: What colour will the wall or backdrop be where your group will be standing? Here’s a good rule of thumb you can follow: 

  • Plain background – You can wear either plain or bright colours, and outfits with more patterns. However not everyone should be wearing prints or else the patterns might clash, making overall photo look too messy. 
  • Busy background – It’s best to wear outfits with plain colours (no patterns) that complement the background. Eg. A green leafy background can go with full white outfits or white and khaki colours.

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Fashion savvy female photographers

Ever since I became a photographer, I have griped on and on about not having anything to wear for a shoot. To be honest, back then, I didn’t really know how to dress. I only knew that most photographers wear black (which to me, is really really boring, despite the many explanations of how black should be THE colour).

My choice of wardrobe was always linked to what I had to have on me at the time of shoot. During full day wedding shoots, I always carry my Think Tank pouch with me that contains memory cards, spare batteries, name cards, my phone, lens pen, and lenses (of course, duh!). I find that having a pouch helps alleviate the stress of carrying a heavy slingover bag on my shoulder. I don’t want to be carrying two camera bodies (with flash sometimes) on my shoulder AND lenses too. So the weight of the lenses rest on my waist and hips.

Ok so Lara Croft look-alike belt is ready.

So obviously, dresses are a no-no right? It’s fashion kill to combine both a pouch and a dress like how I did here:

I only wore a dress for this shoot because it was sooooo hot during that wedding! Photo taken by Mark.

So, most times, I am wearing pants and a shirt/nice top for a shoot. Like this:

Ok, I don’t always shoot barefooted! This was taken by Ian at Alfred & Geeta’s Hindu wedding last year.

I always believe that a photographer should look and dress well for the occasion. I don’t feel it is appropriate for a photographer to come for an event dressed shabbily when all the wedding guests are dressed so well. Round collared T-shirts are a no-no for formal wedding events!

But you know, ultimately, I would LOVE to wear something like this at shoots:

Minus heels of course. I cannot imagine running around for 10 hours on heels.

Lately, I won a Shootsac bag which means that I can ditch the pouch for short shoots. But after 5 hours of shoot, it is still a bit painful on the shoulders. However, the Shootsac enables me to wear dresses without butchering the entire look. :)

Alright, this is NOT a dress, but it’s a shot of how my Shootsac looks. Taken by Shu Wan.

A few years ago, Veralyne, a superb gown designer who used to work with Pretty in White, but now has her own label… told me that she’d design a dress for me for shoots. Recently, she gave me this design:

It looks lovely! I asked her, “Where to put lenses?” and she has yet to get back to me. Hehe…

Anyhow, I think for now, I’ll just stick to wearing pants, nice tops / shirts with the Think Tank pouch and occasionally a dress with the Shootsac.