Portraits with Style-Guide on What to wear for Family Portraits

To wear or not to wear…that is the question.

As an individual who is creative and fun, I have always loved flashy peices in my wardrobe. Whiether it’s a bright red pair of pumps or funky plaid bell bottoms (or both), there are definite times and places for my unique flare in wardrobe. I am often asked “what do I wear during my portrait session?” and so I feel that I can answer this question once and for all in a blog.


Wear what you are comfortable in!

It’s that easy. More often then not people are soured by the portrait experience because all they remember is their parents making them dress in stuffy outfits and behave. They weren’t allowed to move for fear of ruining their clothes, and their mom’s were always high stressed….sound familiar?

In the digital day and age we are in, we have so many momarazzi’s (or dadarazzi’s) that it is important to dress the part when you are paying a professional photographer like me to take your family photos. However, I like to keep things casual, if a knee get’s dirty worst case scenario is that I have to Photoshop it out.

Wear neutral or complimentary tones

If you are choosing a neutral to wear, be sure you both (or all) keep to the same neutral colour family. Grey and Brown don’t look hideous together, however Grey and black or grey and white look better or best would be both in the same colour neutral.

If one is in white, then all should have some sort of white on their outfits to keep the flow.

Your eye is naturally drawn to the lightest thing in a picture so if uncle Joe is the only one wearing white, he gets all the attention first. I recommend everyone in white or like I said adding white to everyone’s outfit
Example: Dad and Mom in white shirts and jeans with little Ann in back and white polkadoted dress and little John in a white tee with a shirt or v-neck sweater overtop. WARNING WHITE SOCKS WILL STAND OUT IN PORTRAITS. PLEASE KEEP SOCKS TO NEUTRAL DARKS.

Often a rule of thumb (old school thumb no doubt) is to keep wardrobe neutral colours to not distract from your faces.

However, I love colour to much to really push this rule.  I do always suggest avoiding to much pattern.
Plaids are great…everyone in plaid is asking for trouble. (Same applies for Stripes)
A great idea is to pick a favorite colour and dress everyone in the same colour tone ranging from dark to light. Example: Different shades of Blue.

Try to keep the patterns to a minimum and/or co-ordinate them. 

Example: Mom in solid pink top, Dad in blue plaid top, little Anne in same pink flowered dress, little John in solid matching blue shirt.
Mom and her little sweetie match, Dad and his little man match, when I am taking pictures of the kids their patterns are not competing with each other, and same for all other pose breakouts.
There are ways to work patterns into the wardrobe however it’s best to avoid anything too busy or combining to many. A plaid shirt and a polka doted dress can look really cute together if they are in the same colour family and one is a large pattern and one is a smaller pattern.

Be prepared for posing. 

Too tight pants, deep v-necks, clingy shirts, clothing that is too big, can all have a dramatic effect on whether or not you will love your photo. If you can’t squat for fear of ripping your jeans you have picked the wrong denim. Let’s keep in mind who will be seeing the photos and the ease your wardrobe allows for when bending down to pick up your wee one. I like to take a mix of posed and natural images so be prepared for sitting, squatting and lying down.

Have fun with it but don’t stress, you’re in good hands.

Often people don’t have $500 to invest in a new family wardrobe for a photo, so start with the family member who has the least options and build from there keeping in mind what was stated above. The #1 thing is that you are comfortable in you outfit, because an uncomfortable wardrobe will reflect in the photos. I do my best to keep everyone in good spirits and having a fun and relaxed time and take photos that are flattering to you and your family.

Dress for your Body type:

Here’s a great site to help you decided what that is and what to wear to compliment it  BODY TYPE
I am a pear 🙂

Think about where the Portrait will hang

You are as qualified as an interior designer as I am (unless you are actually an interior designer) and you know your home best. If you think a photo with the family wearing red will clash in your pink living room then go with your gut. The same can be said for location selection. If you have a tropical themed room then you might want to stay away from doing an outdoor Winter portrait. I have yet to walk into a house and see a family portrait and think “Gee that sweater doesn’t match the couch” however, it’s worth the consideration.

One last thing: Sometimes a mix of everything can make for the best photos. This was my husband’s family’s last portrait where I suggested that we all wear jewel tones and/or neutral colours.  I love this image and wouldn’t change a thing about it. Everyone’s beauty and personality shines through the pops of colour.

By | 2018-01-24T21:09:51+00:00 September 29th, 2011|Uncategorized|0 Comments

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