How to Prepare for Your Family Portrait Session: Choosing Outfits

Your family is growing up.  Your children are changing every time you turn around. Time does not wait. It may have been years since you’ve captured your family in portraits and you know that you don’t want to let another moment pass by.  Does planning a family portrait session sound overwhelming and stressful? No need to worry! We are here to help. This is one of the many reasons to hire a professional.

We provide consultations with all of our portrait clients to help you plan and prepare. Consultation sessions provide a chance to get to know us and us to know you, brainstorm location ideas, outfit ideas, posing and groupings, discuss wall collections, artistic option, decor and album design. Planning ahead helps us be successful!

In this segment, we’ve listed what we think are the most important tips for dressing your family. Every family is different and unique and should feel special throughout their family portrait session!



Coordinate; don’t match.

It’s best to find a color scheme or a theme for the family and avoid matching exactly. Matching white t-shirts and jeans was a fad used for a long time that soon faded when everyone else did it. Use colors that work well with every family member’s skin tones and use them to compliment each other. Maybe the color of “Mom’s” top matches your daughter’s dress and maybe “Dad’s” shirt color is similar to your oldest son’s shorts. Lay out some clothes from everyone’s closet on the bed and see what coordinates!


Use the colors of your home.

Do you have a specific color scheme in your home decor? If you’re planning on hanging your family portraits on the wall, you may want to coordinate your portrait outfit colors or consider the location colors, time of year or even the light of the time of day in planning your portrait session. Neutral clothing colors might work well to create a timelessness in your portraits that can stand up to home decor changes over time.


Dress the season.

Sometimes the time of year can be a great influence on how you dress and may even become the theme of the portrait. If your home has a cozy feel, fall and winter sweater portraits look beautiful hanging on the walls. Also, portrait sessions can last up to two hours and it might be important to wear the proper shoes and layers depending on the weather so that you aren’t too cold or too hot.


Compliment your clothing with your location.

Some locations have some very strong colors in the environment.  Clothing choice could coordinate with the colors of the location, the season of the year or even the lighting at certain times of the day. Complimentary colors together will always work as a rule:  Blues with yellow.  Reds, pinks, oranges with green.



Avoid branding or too much text.

Clothing with branding can be visually distracting if there is too much of it, unless it is the focus point of the portrait theme. Limited patterns are great to give the portraits a little texture, but be careful not to go overboard. Solid colors with accents of detail are the perfect combination.


Stick to one outfit.

Try picking one look for the whole family and sticking to it for the whole portrait session (especially with kids under age 5). We typically think it is most successful to shoot one outfit for families due to time and energy in planning.  To easily change a look without fully changing clothing, accessories can be added or subtracted such as boots, coats, sweaters, umbrellas and hats.  Of course, if your family has special traditions or outfits such as football jerseys, then we would suggest bringing those along.

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Start with one person.

Still feeling overwhelmed? Try starting with just one person (maybe yourself or maybe the family member who is the hardest to dress). If you base your ideas off one outfit, it will be easier to work towards everyone else. Lay out several options for each person and see what works best together! We can’t wait to see what you come up with and we are always available to help!




Capturing life’s most treasured moments…

Sammamish, WA


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