Oh Joy

how to choose outfits for family photos...18 Nov 2015

how to choose outfits for family photos

Every year, I have friends frantically texting me as they prep for their family photos asking about the outfits they have chosen and what their kids or husband should wear. It’s the one time a year that people might spend a bit more time choosing that special outfit for the whole family. Picking out outfits for my family is actually really fun for me because to me it’s like a design challenge that involves a lot of the same components of color, texture, and balance that I keep in mind when putting together any other image (that's the art school part of me coming out). Whether you’re taking photos of you and your partner, you and your pup, or you and your family of 15, I've partnered with Artifact Uprising to share my tips for choosing outfits for family photos with some outtakes from this year's holiday card to demonstrate…

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

1. Dressing for the environment. The first thing to think about is how casual or dressy you want to be. I say you should wear something more special than your average casual Saturday because...why not? If you’re spending time to take these family photos, you should use it as a chance to wear something a little extra special. That doesn’t mean you need to go black tie and wear a ball gown to the park, but dress so you feel excited about what you’re wearing and so your kids are excited, too. Also, think about where you’re shooting the photos. If you’re going to the beach, then soft flowy pieces look great in the wind. Or if it’s a snowy/winter scene then cozy on up so that the scene feels like a moment out of your real life. This year, we chose a modern, urban setting outside the Broad Museum in downtown Los Angeles.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

2. Color and texture. When outfitting a the whole family, I compose a set of outfits the way I would a full scene—balance, texture, and color come into play. If you have a certain stand-out color or pattern, you want to see that pop of color/pattern in a couple places so that it doesn’t stand out in only one spot. In our case, we have a couple hits of neon yellow, a couple hits of black, a few neutral stripes, and some blush throughout. Men and boys can be the hardest to dress because there are far less options in male clothing (poor guys). But if you love color and want to incorporate it in their outfits as well, find smaller areas like a cool belt, a bow tie, hat, or shoes where they can wear a pop of color and feel comfortable in that shade (check out Bob's blush shoes!). Also, think about textures. If you’re taking your photos in a very modern setting that has strong lines and not a lot of color, it could be nice to balance that out with some clothing that has some softness or texture to it (hence our soft skirts and dresses). Also, across the board, I typically avoid wearing all white, all black, or anything with bold logos or typography.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

3. Complement without being too matchy matchy. Unless you are going for the Ugly Christmas Sweater look, I like to have some elements of the family outfits that match or complement without anyone wearing the same exact outfit. For example, if you have multiple kids, they can wear similar colors or patterns. Or, they can wear the same style of dress or shirt but in different colors or patterns. That way there are parts of the outfits that are the same without the full head-to-toe outfit being the same. Ruby and Coco are two slightly different dresses in the same pattern, but to avoid them looking too matchy, I gave them different tops to wear over the dresses. Same goes for the grown-ups, try to have part of your outfit link back to one other person in the photos even with a touch of the same color or pattern. 

How to Choose Outfits for a Family Photo

4. Try on the clothes before you take photos. Especially if kids are involved, make sure they've tried on the full outfit ahead of time. I can't even keep track of the number of times I've put on a new pair of shoes or a new dress and Ruby doesn’t want to wear it cause they hurt her feet or something itches. Or sometimes you’ve been saving a super special piece of clothing for a few months and then your kid outgrows it before they go to wear it. So do a test run in the full outfit beforehand so you and your kids are in comfortable clothes that fit! (For example, the outfits above were what I had planned for the kids this year. But Ruby would not wearing the stockings because she felt too hot in them, she outgrew the shoes I planned for her, and we decided not to have Coco wear the headband in fear of it constantly falling off during shooting). So we simply took out some of the unnecessary accessories and switched out Ruby’s shoes for a bigger pair we already had.

Oh Joy Family Photo by Morgan Pansing

5. Be comfortable to look comfortable. You might see this as a chance to step outside your box and wear something more risqué, more glamorous, or more colorful. But don’t wear something you wouldn’t normally wear. Bob and I both wore clothes we already owned and have worn before this day. These photos should look like you and your family—just a bit more special. And if you don't feel like you or you’re uncomfortable in any way, it will show in the photos. Oh, if you have kids, don't forget to take a photo of you and your partner without the kids. I know it can be hectic to take family photos, but if someone can entertain your kids for a few minutes so you can snap a shot together, it's well worth it.

how to choose outfits for family photos

And, now here's a peek at our holiday card for this year! I hope these tips help you for your holiday photo, future family photos, or for any other special occasion coming up!

P.S. Two fun things...

1) Artifact Uprising has kindly offered 10% off holiday card printing with code OHJOYTEN valid through December 2, 2015. AND...

2) You can enter your email address in the box below to enter to win $250 credit towards printing your cards with Artifact Uprising. Entries close on December 2, 2015.

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Artifact Uprising—a brand I've been using and loving for years. All content, ideas, and words are my own. Thanks for supporting the sponsors that allow me to create new and original content like this for Oh Joy.

{Photos from this year's family photo by Morgan Pansing. Past family photos from card's past: Max Wanger and Jesse Chamberlin (sparkly streamers card), Katherine and Luke Griffin (bougainvillea running and family montage). Still life photos of the cards by Casey Brodley, styling by Ariel Fulmer. Outfit details: Joy's sweater from J.Crew, skirt from Darccy, shoes from Target, necklace from Lou Lou Lollipop Finery. Bob's shirt from Apolis, pants by Betabrand, shoes from Greats. Ruby's dress by Two Els, cardigan from Crew Cuts, shoes by Zuzii. Coco's dress by Two Els, top by Crew & Lushoes by Zuzii, hair pin by Homako.}

business in the front, party in the back...17 Nov 2015

Bobbi Pin Hairstyle

So there was this one morning (really, most mornings) when I woke up and could not get my act together to get showered or really do much of anything to my hair. A couple weeks ago, I share this really easy bobbi pin hairstyle with you. And here's one more! This is for those days that your hair is a mess and all you can do is put it up in a top knot or a ponytail and call it a day. BUT, no one needs to know how messy it really is if you just fancy it up a bit like so...

Bobbi Pin Hairstyle

1. Put your hair up in a top knot, bun, or pony tail as you normally would. Then use bobbi pins to secure the back wisps up in multiple rows of "V"s. You can use one color or use two contrasting colors like we did for a fun contrast effect.

2. Place in the first bottom pin to hold the hair back in the spot you want it to stay in.

3. Add another bottom pin to create a "V" shape. Make sure to interlock the two pins at the bottom of the "V" by inserting the second bobbi pin into the bottom curve of the first pin so it helps lock them together and hold the hair even better.

4. Keep repeating until you have as many bobbi pins as you'd like. I find that 4-6 rows looks the best. Since you can't really see this as you go, you have to feel your way through it and then check your work in a double mirror. Once you try it a couple times, you won't need to look and will be able to tell just by feeling them as you go!

{Photos by Casey Brodley, hairstyle by Danielle Walch.}

on love and loss...16 Nov 2015

Christopher David Ryan print

Ever since Friday, I haven't had much to say on social media. After hundreds of innocent people lost their lives, I didn't have anything meaningful to say or share. With a few days now to process, I am ready to express a little bit of what’s going on in my head…

I don't normally talk about current events publicly—or at all, really. It’s kind of an inside joke among those who know me and love me is that I have no idea what is going on in the world. And, it’s mainly because most current events make me sad, angry, or fearful. But of course, things like this—what happened in Paris—I cannot ignore. I can’t always live in my bubble of peace and happiness as much as I really want to. Because it's about imagining that (just for a second) what happened in Paris on Friday could happen to any of us.

I lived in New York during 9/11 and was close enough to the World Trade Center when it fell to have seen people covered in crumbled debris running for their lives not knowing what was to come next. We all knew the world was changing, and we had no idea what was next. I know what it's like not to be able to get in touch with loved ones to tell them you're safe. I’ve felt the loss of a loved one suddenly without having the chance to say goodbye. I've felt these things and they are terrible and not something I wish upon anyone. But I am lucky to still be here to take these experiences with me and help them fuel my desire to live each day with more meaning, to hold my kids and my husband closer, to remind my parents how much I appreciate them, and to live without regrets.

I don't have any solutions for world peace. I wish I did. But what I can say is to just feel what you are feeling when sad things happen. If you want to help those in Paris (or any other country experiencing devastation of some sort), help however you can. Whether you help in physical ways, in financial ways, or you simply send all the energy and love that you have to give to complete strangers in another country—just do it. Because while those who were hurt might seem so far away to you, that could be any of us. And if it were me, just knowing that a ton of strangers were thinking of me and praying/hoping for peace in some way, I think I would find one tiny bit of comfort in that. 

While blogging about design or fashion feels trivial sometimes in the light of the bigger things that are often going on in the world, I continue to remind myself is that life is short and every day needs to be filled with what makes us happiest, with the people that make us happy, and with ways that we can enrich other people's lives. For me that's what I attempt to offer, and I will resume my happiness bubble tomorrow. But for now, I continue to feel sad for those people I don’t know and continue to hope for peace in any way possible.

{Print above by Christopher David Ryan}

happy friday + oh joy eats this month...13 Nov 2015

Trois Familia / Los Angeles

Happy Friday guys! After our recent survey, those of you not living in LA said that sometimes I tease you with photos of the food that I eat here. I totally get it and photos of food tease me, too (especially if I can't have those things like RIGHT NOW). But, I love food and love sharing my favorites. I'll still share some Los Angeles spots with you from time-to-time, but instead I'm going to share a few of my favorites each month all in one post. So every month, those of you who are in LA or those who plan to visit soon can still get a round-up of new spots to eat at in Los Angeles if/when you are in town next ;) Click below to see my favorites from this month...


apple pie adventures...12 Nov 2015


It's finally feeling like fall here in LA in the last couple weeks, and I'm just loving it. As a child of immigrant parents, we never did seasonal things like apple picking (my parents just weren't aware of it because it wasn't a part of their culture). So it's been fun starting new traditions like this with my own family. Since we all love apple pie so very much, a few weeks ago, we took the kids apple picking so that we could show them what goes into (eventually) making an apple pie. Click on the video below to see our Apple Pie Adventures and subscribe to the Oh Joy channel for more videos!

And if you want to recreate my favorite apple pie, see more below!


10 of my favorite blogger books!11 Nov 2015

My Favorite Blogger Books

2015 is the year of the blogger books! (I'm guilty of that one, too). With so many books out by many of my friends and colleagues in the blogging world, I wanted to share some of my favorites from this year with you...


a housewarming welcome kit...10 Nov 2015

A Housewarming Welcome Kit

With so many of my friends, family members, or co-workers buying houses or moving into a new home recently, I wanted to come up something I could give them as a welcome kit for their new home. Yes, I could give them a fancy cooking appliance they'll never use, but instead I like the idea of giving them something that they can use during those first couple weeks when your house doesn't yet feel like home. 

I've partnered with Honest (a brand I love and have used in my home since they started 4 years ago), to make this Housewarming Welcome Kit which includes some functional things to get them through those first couple weeks as well as some celebratory things for them to bask in the glory of a new space!

Here's how to make it...


on being different... 9 Nov 2015

Teaching Kids About Being Different

A few months ago, Ruby went through a phase where she kept saying, "I just want to be normal." She didn't like it when we said she was funny or cute or entertaining. She would get upset, stop whatever she was doing, shrug her shoulders and proceed to tell us she just wanted to be normal. Of course, that upset me a lot because she doesn't yet realize that not "being normal" is what most people strive to be. The most successful and creative people in the world are those who think outside the box and who defy what's considered "normal".

While my husband and I knew it was a phase and tried not to worry about it too much, I knew that it was my job as her parent to keep telling her in small ways how we are all different and special and how really there is no "normal". Most of Ruby's friends come from mixed families and so we talk to her all the time about how every family is different and special.

To make it easier for her to visualize, we've been using these animals (leftover from Coco's birthday party). I asked her what they look like and what makes them each special. We talked about the different colors they had and also what sounds they make, how strong they are, and things they can do that no other animal can do. Then, when I asked her which one was the "normal" one. She said that none of them were normal and they were all special. Finally, we talked about what made her different and special. Now she's much more okay with not being normal and is more aware of trying to think about what makes her...well, her. 

(Now, let's queue the music that comes on at the end of every episode of Full House right about now...)

I know we'll struggle with this issue throughout her life as she grows and changes and strives to fit in and be accepted by her peers (I spent a good chunk of my tween years wishing I looked like the other girls in my class). But for now, I feel a small bit of relief that we're helping her become more aware of everyone's differences and enjoying the beauty of that.

I'd love to hear what you guys think and any things that have helped you with this type of thing in the past.

{Photo by Casey Brodley for Oh Joy}

happy friday + thank you! 6 Nov 2015

Oh Joy Studio

Happy Friday! I wanted to end this week and says thanks so much for those of you who took the time to answer my reader survey or leave a comment on that post from two weeks ago. It was nice to hear your constructive feedback and especially the things that echo'ed what I've been feeling or thinking you guys might say. While for the most part, you guys love the mix of content I've always done, I think I could tone down the kid/baby content a little, get a bit deeper into some of the more "personal experience" posts from my life (both the good and the bad), post a little less about LA-specific places, and get back into more home decor and design content that I used to do.

It was also really helpful to hear how you guys follow along with Oh Joy (mostly on Instagram and Pinterest), what Oh Joy products you have and love, and what you want more of (it's exciting to see that some of the products requested are in our plans to launch soon ;). Also, regarding products I wanted to mention that there were a ton of comments that you wish Oh Joy products were available to those outside the U.S. While I certainly would love that, most of that is beyond my control since we don't manufacture our own products and everything we currently design is sold through retailers based in the US. Hopefully someday, we can expand worldwide and get Oh Joy to all of you ;)

I know that I cannot please everyone and I cannot create a site that is everything to everyone. So I have taken all your comments to heart and we have already started to make some changes that feel right to us while also sticking to the heart of what Oh Joy is about—the mix of things in my life that I feel passionate about and want to share with you. Because the day that I get tired of sharing things or I no longer enjoy this little piece of the internet, is the day that I will stop blogging. But for now, I still have a lot more to share and I thank you (so much) for coming along on the journey.

P.S. We randomly picked five readers from the survey to win a special Oh Joy gift. All five people were emailed yesterday!

{Photo by Casey Brodley of the Oh Joy studio}

a really cute way to use bobbi pins... 5 Nov 2015

Bobbi Pin Hairstyle / Color Block Diamond

I have never been one of those people who spends a lot of time getting ready in the morning. I have a very simple morning routine that doesn't take very long at all, and I'm super simple with my hair and makeup on the average day. So I'm always looking for (and thinking about) easy things that I can do that look way fancier than they actually are. This post was supposed to be called, "How to make it look like you spent way more time doing your hair than you actually did." But that title was too long to fit in this post's header, so I had to shorten it. But here is a super simple way to make it look like you spent way more time doing your hair than you actually did. ;) Bobbi Pin Hairstyle / Color Block Diamond

1. Pull the side of your hair up and back as you might usually when putting it half up. Rather than using just one clip, we'll be using four bobbi pins to secure it and create a decorative diamond shape. You can use one color or use two contrasting colors like we did for a color block effect.

2. Place in the first bottom pin to hold the hair back in the spot you want it to stay in.

3. Add another bottom pin to create a "V" shape. Make sure to interlock the two pins at the bottom of the "V" by inserting the second bobbi pin into the bottom curve of the first pin so it helps lock them together and hold the hair even better.

4. Add the top two pins from outside in to create the top of the diamond and complete the shape.

That's it! Easy right? I like having it on just the one side. It feels polished without being too fussy.

{Photos by Casey Brodley, hairstyle by Danielle Walch.}


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