So you have booked a family photo session and now you’re thinking “what are we going to wear!?” – You’re investing in a set of beautiful family portraits for your home so it’s really important to get the choice of clothes right. I have some important guidelines to help make the decision easier, and to make sure we get you and your family looking great together.

Whether you want black-and-white or color photos from your session, read on for a guide to your family photo shoot wardrobe…

Start with the location

When thinking about what you should wear, start with the location we will be photographing your family in – as a general rule, smarter clothes for indoor and more casual outdoors. Your choice of colors will need to complement those natural colors. A spring photo shoot in your garden that is full of blue bells will require a different color group. You will need clothes that fit the backgrounds and are also suitable for the environment we will be in – a suit and high heels won’t work too well when in a wooded area or a football field.

If we are indoors, and you have a decor that is smart and contemporary, then your wardrobe you choose will need to reflect that – you will probably choose smart shirts and dresses for example. If you have a rustic, outback or country look to your home, then you’ll naturally want to dress to compliment that instead.

Where will your portraits be displayed?

This is a really important question to consider – look at where you plan to display your portraits and look at the colors and shades that are in the room. If for example, you have strong blues in your living room, and that is where the main wall art gallery from your session is going to hang, you’ll want to pick out blue as your main color in the outfits.

Choose a color group

Once you’ve decided your main color, it’s time to select a color group. Most families like a bit of help with this so check out the Kuler color group site, ( for some inspiration. You can also use a color wheel to get an idea of colors that complement each other – pick your background color – then make a 3 spoked wheel in the center and you’ll have an rough idea of which colors compliment your first color on the other 2 spokes of the wheel (purple and light blue in this case).

Please avoid wearing items of clothing that are almost all white – if you end up choosing your photos in black and white, large areas of white really can make the image more difficult to convert and print well.

Skin tones and color groups

If I was having my family photographed this autumn, outdoors in a park, I know that my family skin tones don’t lend themselves to dressing up in orange (your’s may do though – freckles and ginger hair looks great in autumn shots!) So, looking at the color wheel example above, I’d be happy with plums and blues for my family. I’d use Kuler to search for autumn color groups, like this one for example:

I always suggest starting with the girls in your family, so in my case that would be my daughter, I know her skin tone makes her look great in plummy colors so either of the two plums in this group will work well for her. I know my husband looks great in dark blue tones and my boys look great in the reds or blues.

Avoid family uniforms

I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of family photos where the whole family is wearing blue jeans and white tops – please avoid that ‘matchy’ look. Instead, go for a selection of outfits of similar style (smart or casual) with a range of colors from the same color group that complement each other well – like the picture at the top of this post (click it to enlarge).

Avoid brands and logos

I prefer it if my families do not select clothing that distracts the viewer from their faces when looking at the portraits. You are after all investing in portraits for people to look at you, not just your clothes. Large logos should be avoided – they will make the photo dated in time as well as create a significant distraction. I’m not against patterns when used in the right way – just make sure they aren’t too bold or heavy – lightly patterned jumpers or delicate flower prints on girls dresses can really add to an image.

Add accessories

Careful use of accessories can add a splash of color to your outfit but be careful not to overdo it – you want it to add to the overall effect of the outfit, not draw attention to itself.

Dress for you

Please make sure you dress in something that is really you – you need to feel comfortable in what you are wearing. Don’t choose something that is going to be uncomfortable, or that will need constant adjustment to keep it looking great either.

Let me help

I’m happy to answer any questions you have about what to wear for your photo shoot. Why not have a think about your outfit, then lay something out that you think works and snap a pic of it on your phone? – message it over or email it to me and I’ll let you know if I think it will work.