Family Portraits: Useful Information


You really want to think about the family’s clothing as one BIG outfit. Like when you dress yourself, you want an outfit to be balanced and coordinate, but not be all the same or monochromatic or plain. So vary the styles, prints, and textures while sticking with a purposeful color scheme and you will be on your way to some great family style! Here are a few suggestions for your portrait session:

What to Wear

Stuff to think about before your Family Session.

You really want to think about the family’s clothing as one BIG outfit. Like when you dress yourself, you want an outfit to be balanced and coordinate, but not be all the same or monochromatic or plain. So vary the styles, prints, and textures while sticking with a purposeful color scheme and you will be on your way to some great family style! Here are a few suggestions for your portrait session:

1. Pick a color Scheme.

There are limitless color schemes out there for family portraits, but choose one that feels like you and incorporates colors that you already own. If you are not wearing clothes you would normally wear, you aren’t being yourself. The purpose of the portrait session is to capture your family’s personality and style. Stick to one or two main colors complimented by a neutral. Or go all neutral. Feel free to coordinate your look and wear complementary colors with others in the portrait, but don’t try to match them.

2. Vary with the tops.

Start by choosing what tops everyone will wear. Depending on the size of your family, try to include at least one patterned shirt (like plaid or polka dots) and at least one solid top. If you can vary between a basic tee, a button up and a sweater then do it. As long as you stick to the color scheme, varying the tops will add the most interest to the portraits. For example give one child layers with a cardigan and a tee and stick another in a button up and a bow tie.
Ladies, consider a v-neck top. Turtlenecks, thick scarves and sweaters can add bulk to your appearance. V-necks and open collars elongate the neck and body and bring the focus to your face. Outfits with sleeves are always flattering to arms in portraits.
Guys, consider a collared shirt for your portrait. A collared shirt frames the face and can be very flattering.
Always choose a sleek, fitted or tapered top over baggy. But don’t wear clothes that are too tight to avoid ending up with extra lumps and bumps. Also remember some patterns can be very flattering or very unflattering in portraits. For example, stripes should be in a vertical pattern as to elongate and slim rather than in a horizontal pattern, which can leave a subject appearing wider.

3. Vary the Bottoms.

Decide how casual or dressy you want your portraits to be and then choose accordingly. Stay within your color scheme and then mix it up a little. If your color scheme is neutral, you may dress in a mixture of denim and khaki. You can also do light and dark denim, a skirt and a dress, tall boots and short boots (a good pair of boots can make any girl’s legs look great.) The only thing to be wary of is brightly printed skirts or pants. If the bottoms are where the action in happening, then go back and tone down the tops.

4. Consider Mom and Dad’s outfits together.

You will likely have a portrait of just you and your other half on your own, be sure your outfits go well together. Do they coordinate enough to stand alone? Are you both in plain tees or should you throw on a vest or a cardigan to mix it up? Don’t go for solid white button down shirts for the two of you. We want coordinating not matching. Do your pants match perfectly or should you add tall boots or a skirt to change up the bottoms? Don’t be afraid to wear things that ‘pop’ such as chunky jewelry, fun shoes, a brightly-colored blazer, a tie, a vest.   Check out our pinterest board here for more ideas.

5. Know What’s in Your Makeup.

Even the most immaculate applied make-up can look awful when you get your picture taken using flash. Without being aware of it, you can get a white face, or white area not matching the surrounding color. This effect is called flashback. Flashback is caused by light reflecting off your face, literally flashing back. Illuminating foundations or concealers (including under eye illuminators), mineral foundations and powders can contain light reflecting particles, which increase the risk for flashback in pictures. To find out more you can visit this link.

  • Don’t forget to launder and iron your clothes to remove any stains and wrinkles.
  • Do remove any pet hair or lint on clothing.
  • Don’t dress to “matchy” but do coordinate.
  • Don’t wear clothes that are too tight or too baggy, a fitted fit is perfect.
  • Don’t have your hair cut the same day of the portrait. Schedule hair appointments at least one week in advance for a more natural look.
  • Don’t over tan. Spray tans are dangerous when preparing for an upcoming portrait session.
  • Don’t wear makeup that is shiny or sparkly. For example; mascara, eye shadow, blush or bronzers with a sparkle or shine. These might look good for everyday wear but they will reflect flash and leave a subject’s complexion looking undesirable.
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