What to wear for your family portrait....

What to wear for your family portrait…


One of thethings I find that stresses mom out about having portraits created is clothing.  

Clothing is an essential key element when it comes to family portraits.  The game has changed quite a bit in the last few years. For a while many photographers including myself suggested that everyone wear the same color and no patterns.  Solid dark colors were best.  


The ideas behind keeping it simple were:

  1. The clothing should not be competing for the subjects faces.
  2. Patterns can be distracting
  3. It was easier to have everyone is the same color….


For traditional portrait photography trendy clothes and colors could eventually date the portrait and since fashion styles change photographers didn’t want their clients looking back on the portrait in ten years and think to themselves…  “what the heck were we thinking with that outfit?” 

Simple and classic would always stand the test of time…..  except when it gets boring.

And…. it did start to get brining, especially if you have clients come back year after year.  Families would want their yearly portrait to have differences besides the ages of the children.  Change of location of course -  but a change in clothing and colors started to become necessary. 



Now that the clients have more choices when it comes to clothing it can be hard to coordinate everyone.  Too many colors or patterns can be really distracting and take the focus away from the subjects.  Some moms are fashion savvy and some moms (like me) are not.  


Here are my top 10 tips to help when designing the clothing platte for your family’s portrait session.  


  1. Choose color pallets that work well together.
  2. You can choose a solid color and add patterns and colors that blend with the main color.Grey as a base is wonderful because you can put almost any color with it.  Grey and black -Grey and yellow or pink or green.  
  3. Younger children can handle brighter colors and patterns with parents in a coordinating solid color is fun without being overly distracting.
  4. Don’t go crazy trying to do something that doesn’t look like your family.  If your husband doesn’t like to wear pink -don’t put him in a pink shirt. 
  5. Accessorize - bring hats and scarfs for the kids - it will show some personality and let them have fun too.  
  6. Add neutral tones to jewel tones.  Cream/Ivory with burgundy or royal blue can be a great combination. 
  7. The number of subjects in the portrait can play a role in how many colors you add.  For larger groups up to 3 colors work best… it can be very distracting if you have too many colors with a lot of people. 
  8. The location can also play a part in deciding the color palette of your portrait. The beach lends itself to blues, coral, yellow, cream or pastel colors. Fall foliage may work well with dark green, brown and cream tones.
  9. The room in your home where you will display the portrait can be the inspiration for the clothing choice.  If your room is earth tone you can use your portraits to pop color into the room. 
  10. Have fun and express your family’s personality with style and color.  


Keep in mind dressing too trendy can look dated quickly and you want to enjoy your family portraits for many years.  



I always let my clients know that if they are unsure they can send me pictures or stop by with what they are considering.  Some clients buy new clothes - my suggestion is to buy more than you need and we can put the right combination together at the session.  Leave the tags on and return to the store what we didn’t use. 


Keep in mind dressing too trendy can look dated quickly and you want to enjoy your family portraits for many years.  


Here are a few samples of well put together and coordinated clothing options.  They each look classic, fun, personal yet timeless.

Categorized In: clothing for portraits | family | family pictures | michele celentano | michele celentano blog | photography | portraits