What to wear to your photo session

Whether we are working on a themed family session or a simple casual set your clothing will play a great role towards the success of the final images. Wait, what?!  You may  say “I thought it’s all about the skill and talent of the photographer to create beautiful portraits”.  In reality clothes makes a huge impact (in a subtle way).

Sometimes you see a perfect photo which grabs your eye, makes you want to look more, explore it even.  Most often it happens because there is harmony and balance in the image. There are no distractions, nothing leads the viewer’s eyes away from the subject.

When I think of what makes a great family portrait, there are so many variables, however ever the 1 constant element always comes to mind: the wardrobe selection. And the 1 question I get with every single family photo session is “What should we wear?”

There are many guides available on Pinterest. Having studied and analyzed many of them in an attempt to answer this question again and again I’ve decided it was time to put my thoughts down in a simple step by step guide. So here it is! I hope it’s helpful.


Step 1 – Choose your location

It’s important to decide where your family photos will be taken first, because the selection of clothing should be supported by the colors and the feel of your chosen spot.  The natural background (trees, beach, dried grass, urban landscape, etc) will either compliment Your choices or clash with them.


Step 2 – Pick your style

We want your outfits to reflect your personality as a family. Are you going for a relaxed casual feel? Do you prefer something a bit more dressy and sophisticated ? Or is eclectic and unexpected suits you most?  Imagine your family photos hanging on the living room wall: what do you want to feel looking back at the time they were taken?

Step 3 – Pick out your colors

This is tricky for most of us who lack designer eyes for color combinations. But here are some tips to get you thinking.

Neutral is the safest choice. In fact it should be present in any color combinations you choose (think pants, shoes, etc). Put your basic pieces together and then add one or two with a splash of color (and it doesn’t need to be a bright one).



a wonderful example of a family dressed in neutral tones – from jennamartinphotography.wordpress.com


If beiges, greys and browns are your pet peeves pick 1 color you love and vary the tones. Be careful not to go to far: baby pink and fucsia pink probably won’t work together. Add at least one piece (in your group, not each) that’s a pattern in the same chosen color.

one tone clothing

photo by Melbourne photographer http://kidyaeva.com/



You can browse Pinterest for suggestions on what to wear for your family photo session and choose 2 complimenting colors to add to the neutral basics. One can be your main color used in large doses, other is an accent color.  I also came across a wonderful resource awhile ago and can’t get enough. It’s a perfect visual guide for color combinations:  www.design-seeds.com

Lastly, If you’d like to display your family photos will the colors match the style and decor of your home?


Here are some of the examples I love:


blues and teals with a touch of apricot. Image found on Pinterest.




found on Pinterest


also one of my Pinterest favorites




Step 4 – Add texture and layers

These will add personality and visual detail to your photos. Don’t shy away from patterns (they create interest), but limit to 1-2 pieces among all family members.


Step 5 – Accessorize

These can be layers and textures (think belts, scarves, vests, etc) or special items to complete the ensemble.

Pick some of your favorite accessories to bring along on the day: we’ll choose one or two to compliment each outfit. But don’t be afraid to be creative and think outside the box! Fresh or silk flowers in a form of a bouquet or pinned into the hair make a statement and soften the look.

Or a funky handkerchief tucked inside your jacket pocket will add effortlessly to your husbands classic outfit. A fedora hat will let your son’s or dauther’s personality shine (even if they choose to hide behind it).



And finally, what not to wear:

– Matching khaki pants or jeans with white t-shirts. That trend is long gone!

– Runners are a no-no.

– Everyday comfortable clothes: you might feel comfy but it never looks good in pictures.

– Huge flower headbands on your baby’s head. They are a big distraction! I have an awesome selection of baby headbands in the studio in all styles and colors. Ask me to bring some along.

– All black for an outdoor session. It doesn’t fit into any natural background. Studio portraits however can be quite stunning!

– Leave your keys, wallets and phones in the bag – bulging back pockets don’t look good.

– Large logos and printed t-shirts are way too distracting.

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