What should I wear to a family photography session?

  • By Julie Ewing

What should I wear to a family photography session?

Family portraits are designed to feature on the walls of your home for many years. You want to enjoy your pictures, and not feel embarrassed by outdated fashion choices, so it is important to consider the outfits your family will wear to the photography session.

Don’t feel overwhelmed by the prospect of making wardrobe decisions. We are always happy to provide advice and make suggestions. Our guidance will help you to consider how the colours, patterns, and styles of your clothing will photograph, and whether your choices will work together as a whole.

Keep it simple

When family groups wear clothing of a similar colour palette, the portraits appear balanced and harmonious. Classic blacks and darker tones are often very flattering as they enhance the way faces can stand out. Jeans are contemporary, and always in fashion, but some styles tend to date more than others. Denim works well with a myriad of colours.

There is no need for everyone to wear matching outfits! For the best results, think about wearing gentle variations within the same general colour palette. Often a mix of 3-4 colour combinations works well.
As a rule, it is best if family groups avoid stripes, busy patterns, clashing prints, and large logos.

Consider the location

The location of your family portrait session should be chosen to reflect places that suit your family. Decide whether you prefer the photographs to be taken indoors at our Studio, outside in our rustic Outdoor Studio, or at a place that holds special significance for your family.

Consider how the colours and patterns of your chosen garments will stand out against the backdrop of your location. For outdoor sessions, it is important to choose your outfits with the season and the location in mind. Try to select clothing that is in keeping with the weather conditions you are likely to encounter.

Choose a colour palette

A colour palette usually consists of a combination of 2-4 complementary colours. See some examples of colour palettes that work well together here.

The overall colour palette will help tie the portrait together. To capture great photographs, we need everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed. Remember not to get too caught up in wardrobe rules, try to let each family member wear clothing that suits both their body shape and their personality.

If you are having photos taken outdoors, think about colours that will suit the season, location, and the mood you are hoping to create. It is also important to consider your home décor; how will the colour palette of your portraits fit in with the surroundings at home?

If there is an outfit that has been purchased specially for your photography session you can take inspiration from the colours in the garment and incorporate a few of these as base colours or tones to be picked up through the clothing of other family members.


Accessories can add a pop of colour and visual interest to your photographs. You can have some fun with accessories: hats, scarves and jackets work well for outdoor seasonal portraits.
We can change looks quickly and easily using your accessories; this is important if we are out on location or if the children are getting tired.

Bring a few outfits

The age range of your children tends to dictate how many scenarios and setups can be accomplished in one photo session. When working with young children, we always begin the shoot with a favourite outfit (as kids generally do not tolerate too many outfit changes). Sometimes something as simple as a jacket can change the look without too much upheaval. We’d rather capture great expressions and happiness, than cause tears and tantrums over favourite shoes being removed.

If you are coming to our studios, you may like to bring two completely different outfits. One dressy and one casual option is a great idea. We have facilities that allow for quick changes, and we can rearrange backdrops and discuss posing options to suit the mood of each outfit.

Indoor options

We have multiple backgrounds at our studio, and we can recommend the best option to complement your clothing choices.

Our solid colour backgrounds are black, grey, white, pink, and blue and we can add coloured gels to backgrounds for variety. We have canvas and scenic backdrops, plus our newly renovated Studio has soft white walls and newly polished floorboards for a more "at Home" feel which has been popular!  This environment is fantastic for colour or black and white photographs.

Things to avoid

We advise against wearing sleeveless tops if you don't like your arms, clothing that is too tight, too short, or revealing if you are going to feel uncomfortable (and particularly on young children with bruised legs). Children are active (even during the shoot), so we encourage parents to dress them in clothes that fit comfortably and won’t creep up or down when they strike a pose or play.

In the Studio, shoes are not always required. If family members are in a contemporary position, bare feet often look best, rather than dirty shoes. Consider having a pedicure prior to your shoot. If shoes will be in the portrait, make sure they are camera ready, clean and well-suited to the portrait. When shooting outdoors, bright white socks and a mix of colourful sneakers (unless intended to be that way) tend to be overwhelming, as do large watches, excessive patterns, and hair ties on wrists.

Try to avoid wearing obvious fashion trends that will date quickly and, if you’re planning on having a haircut before the shoot, give it enough time to settle and look natural.

Making your final decision

When you look through our Family galleries, there will be some images that you absolutely love. What is it about those pictures you particularly like? It is usually a mix of background colour, styling, clothing choice, and positioning of the subjects. Looking at what appeals to you is a great starting point. If you love too many, start by eliminating those you know will not suit your family. Soon an idea will start to come together, and we are always here to guide you.

Want to see more examples of family portraits? Visit our Family Gallery. If you are still unsure and need a little direction, please call us, we are always happy to help.


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