Advice on what to wear for your family portrait session

There are many different approaches to family portraiture and there is no right or wrong way! You could go with a totally real documentary style session where you dress in whatever it is that you usually dress in and the photographer captures a day in the life of  your family with all the RAW nitty gritty, beautiful, ugly, realness that comes with parent and childhood. Or you could go the complete opposite way and have a full styled shoot and dress up in crazy outfits and really get creative.

I personally like to work with each client individually and would make you something that suits you and your family. I don’t have a cookie cutter approach.

Here is some advice on what to wear for a typical family portrait session. What you wear will determine the feel and style of the session but certain outfits just work together so I have chosen some photos that I have taken that are good examples of styling that has worked from a visual and conceptual perspective.

Wearing outfits that match but don’t clash is a good idea and make sure they will work with the location that you choose.

In the image below you can see that their clothes suit that location. In fact the outfits were chosen with location in mind. The outfits all have a similar tone of colour and work well together as a palette. Whilst most of the girls are wearing a dusty pic this is offset with a splash of army green and mustard. That gorgeous Mom in the middle gave birth to all five girls!!! What a beautiful family they are.

In the image below they cleverly chose a colour palette that works well together but the choice of outfits also suits the more relaxed and casual vibe of their teens.

This particular family was never going to wear jeans and a white T for their family portrait session and line up on a the beach! They are creative and do things in their own way. The pop of red works so well against the neutral background of the building site and raw concrete.

If you are a very casual family then keep it casual but if you love to dress up then a family portrait session might be the perfect occasion to glam up. As I have already said there is no right or wrong way. You want to do what works for you.

Navy’s, whites and neutrals always look good on the beach or in a neutral location (ie by neutral I mean colour)  but that jeans and white T-shirt trend is a bit dated now so throw in a splash of something!

A smart outfit can look amazing in a gritty environment . The contrast can be very striking.

A nautical look can suit the seaside if that is your vibe. This is a family of sailors so the outfits work for them.

Wear something that suits your personality. This particular couple are funky and alternative so we even had the baby in leopard print and played with a bright red colour against a contrasting jungle green wall.


  • Crazy branding and big logos are a no no
  • Sideways stripes can make one look bigger so if this is something you want to avoid – avoid them!
  • Be wary of wearing items of clothing that will date terribly – you want to be able to look back at your pics in a decade and not think “what was I thinking” – Unless of course you do your family portrait session annually and have fun with the idea of fashion through the ages!
  • Be careful of too many loud, busy patterns which can distort and become distracting
  • Watch out for pantie or bra lines
  • Dark colours generally make people look slimmer if that is what you are going for
  • If you wear glasses, those photochromic lenses aren’t great for photoshoots as they darken in the sun and will hide your eyes and look like sunglasses
  • Unless you are making a thing out of your sunglasses and they become a fun fashion accessory for one or two pics – leave them at home for your session

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get in touch