What to Wear For Your Family Portrait | Jacky T Photography

What Should We Wear?

One of the most common questions that I get from clients is; What should be wear? What shouldn’t we wear? And this is an important question because what you and your family wears during your photo session is as important as the location you choose to have your session in.  Your families outfits need to be carefully picked, and while that task seems daunting it really doesn’t have to be. There are a few simple rules to follow that will help you in coordinating the best attire for your family.

Wear coordinating clothing, not matching

This means that your family should not all wear black shirts and jeans, or white  shirts and jeans. While this is a common practice there are many reasons while it does not produce the best family portrait. First, everyone in the family blends together. When you are all sitting close to one another it may be hard to tell where one person ends and another begins. Second, it’s boring and can make your pictures lack a focal point.  Third, It is so 90’s.  And lastly, you are a wonderful family full of different people and personalities, so your outfits should be equally different.

Take this two pictures for example, the first is from madlyinlike.com the second is from Kristen Duke Photography. The first family is lost in a sea of white, all you notice is the white shirts. The second photo has the family wearing coordinating clothing, and you notice each individual person, no one outshines another but they blend as a family should.

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Pick a Color Palette

The best way to choose a color palette is to choose three colors and coordinate everyone’s clothing accordingly. You pick the three colors and then use your neutrals, such as grays, whites, blacks, or browns as freebies. Don’t use them all together of course but one of them with your three colors. For inspiration you can check out Design Seeds. This site is full of beautiful images and the artist picks out a color palette from the image that you might not notice. It can be used for home decor or clothing and can help you to see patterns that go together. Here are a few examples.


Start With One Outfit

Often people give me advice and I get so overwhelmed that I don’t know where to start. So here is the best starting point for picking out an outfit for your family.  Start with one person’s outfit. Let’s say you found a super cute patterned dress for your daughter or plaid shirt for your son that you love, then use that as the jumping off point. Take one color out of that outfit and find the next person’s outfit. In my family it is usually me, because I have the hardest time finding something that I feel good in. After I have found those two outfit’s I will go into my husband’s closet and find a shirt that has one of the colors in my outfit or my childs’, because my husband has a rainbow of nice collared shirts that I can choose from. Then lastly I find an outfit for my second child that will go with the rest of them, but is not the exact same color or pattern as anyone else.

Don’t Be Afraid of Color

Some people worry that colorful outfits will over shadow the beauty of a person, when in actuality it is the opposite. Beautiful colors read so well in today’s photography technology. If there is an overbearing color it is easily toned done in editing. However, a dull outfit can not be enhanced in editing. I would stay away from those true neon colors that are in fashion right now. Unless you are going for a grunge dark photo, it doesn’t match with other colors very well. Remember not everyone needs to wear the Pop of color, if just two people wear the POP it will be enough. Use layers and accessories to pull in your pops of color and tie everyone together. Layers and accessories add dimension, texture, pizzaz, fun and richness to the overall look. Think Cardigans, belts, necklace, headband, scarf, hats, button up shirt, tights, and ties.

Split Up the Colors

Be sure to keep your close pairs in mind when choosing who will wear what. For example, my youngest is one and in any picture I know I will have to be holding him if I want him to be calm, therefore I would not put him and myself  in the same color. If you have two boys and a girl don’t put the boys in the same shirt, unless you want the focus to only be on your daughter. To split up the colors make sure that the parents aren’t matching and all the kids aren’t wearing the same color. Also make sure that those three colors aren’t all on the top and there is nothing bringing in the bottom. So not everyone should wear jeans, one wear a dress, another, khakis, and two wear jeans if blue is in your color scheme.

Think About the Picture 

Where will you hang this picture? Do you have a spot? You only need to worry about this if let’s say you have a red family room and you want to hang a large family portrait in it. A color scheme of pinks and blues would look hideous in a red room. If you have neutral walls or don’t have a spot in your house in mind than this won’t apply to you. Also this about the location of the shoot, does it match your decor? Then it is important to coordinate your attire with the chosen location. Wearing a suit jacket to a rustic barn won’t work, but a untucked collard shirt and open vest would look great!

A Few Last Reminders

Don’t wear clothing with large logos or writing on it because that is what your eye will be focused to in the picture. It’s ok to mix solids and patterns. Wear things that are comfortable and flattering. Be you. I have included several family outfits for examples. You can click on the image to connect to the original site.


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