• Louisa Jane

Top Tips for Dressing for a Family Photography Shoot

How do I decide what to wear?

The most important thing when dressing for your shoot is to feel comfortable, otherwise those lovely, natural moments are going to be much harder to find! A family photo shoot should be a relaxed and enjoyable experience. Wearing clothes which make you feel comfortable and confident will help ease you into the shoot.

You are looking for clothing and colours which work best for you and your surroundings. For instance, if you are having a garden shoot, surrounded by lots of leafy green foliage, muted greens, browns and oranges will only aid in camouflaging you. If it’s a dreary, overcast day, you might want to re-consider wearing whites and greys and going for a pop of colour or contrast instead. Contrast is your friend. Make sure you set yourself apart from your background.

Next, look carefully at your skin tone. Before you just pop on your favourite winter woolly, have a look in the mirror (in natural light). Does the colour of your top give your skin an altered appearance? Does it make your rosy complexion glow? Does that grey top make you looked washed out, or that rusted colour give you a sallow appearance? Taking a quick selfie on phone (in natural light) can also help you to decide or choose between options.

Use the colour and contrast of your clothes to bring out your best features and make your complexion glow. Choose the pretty scarf which brings out the colour of your eyes, or the earrings which compliment the length of your neck – it doesn’t have to be fancy!

Large logos, motifs, characters or patterns can be very distracting, removing the focus from your lovely faces! Whilst comfort is very important, you still want to present your best self – so smart casual is a good guide. You need to select something more timeless and less distracting than the hoodie featuring their favourite computer game.

What colours/prints (if any) and styles work best?

A mixture of fabrics adds interest and texture. Lace is beautiful for little girls or as an accent for a woman. Knit jumpers are something that photographs well. Layers add some visual interest to outfits. Putting a solid colour cardigan over a dress or a blazer with a t-shirt and jeans can add just that extra little touch of style that makes a portrait special.

Spots, stripes and plaids together with block colours can work if they are subtle and of the same tones. Just a touch of those extra elements on one or two of the family members makes the collection of clothes together look interesting and slightly spontaneous.

Should everyone wear matching outfits?

Family groups work well in outfits that don’t match, but go together and have a similar colour palette. Portraits of families in uniforms of matching t-shirts and denim jeans quickly begin to look dated, erasing individual personality from the members of the family who are pictured. If the perfect moment arises and you get a gorgeous shot of your own kids in mismatched outfits, just go black and white. But for a photo shoot, you want a range of black and white and colour shots.

Are there particular colours that should be avoided?

Any neon or overly saturated colours can be difficult to get right in photos. Black on children is very strong and often washes them out.

What do you think works best generally speaking?

A semi-casual look, something which you might wear to an afternoon at the theatre, works well. Nothing too dressy, but something you can take pride in wearing. Outfits which make you feel beautiful and comfortable. In terms of the types of clothing, shirts with collars are fantastic for framing the face. Scarves are great for adding colour and interest, as are statement necklaces or other pieces of jewellery.

Background should always be taken into consideration when choosing outfits for a portrait. If the images are to be taken at sunset in a field of yellow flowers, the family would look amazing wearing a palette of violet, blues and cyans as they are the colours opposite yellow/orange on the colour wheel. The yellow of the field and the warm (orange) tone to the light will be set off beautifully by their opposing colours.

Any other top tips?

Think carefully about jewellery and shoes as well. Nothing can ruin a shot faster than ratty trainers or a giant necklace that takes away from the subject’s face. When investing in the services of a professional photographer and the expense of high quality prints or canvases, it is a good idea to give consideration to all the details as these images will be family treasures and gazed upon for many years. However, don’t be afraid to add a bit of colour or drama to your outfit. Good blocks of colour and statement accessories can really draw the eye and lift an image.

Remember, above all, your clothes really to help tell a story about who you are – so wear what you love!

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