Family shoots – what to wear

Apr 9, 2014 | Other work

Even if you don’t like having your photograph taken, the whole point is to make YOU and your family the star of the show rather than the clothes! From years of shooting families, I know that clients tend to be very aware of their clothing choices when reviewing their images, so do take some time to read the tips and plan ahead.

When our eyes look at a picture we are drawn to the thing that stands out the most. If everyone is wearing soft, muted colours and one person has a bright red top on, then our eye is distracted by this. If someone has a GAP sweater on then our eyes want to read those letters. We also want to present a feeling of harmony amongst the family, where individual personalities blend to create a varied but harmonious team!

I always think about portraits becoming family heirlooms, on the walls for many years to come, so simple and classic wins over high fashion!

So here is the run down:

– Avoid text and logos. If you only follow one piece of advice, please follow this one!

– Patterns are ok as long as they co-ordinate with the other family members and are not overpowering. If you are unsure then opt for simple!

– Layering is fine. A shirt over a t-shirt. a denim jacket over a dress. These look great.

– Wear clothes that fit you well and flatter you- not too tight and not too loose. If you don’t like your arms (the most common thing a mum says to me on a shoot!) then 3/4 sleeves are a great option. Please don’t rely on photoshop to fix things like stray bra straps.

– Think of the outfits of the family as a whole – do they blend well together? They do not need to match or be uniform (ie that 1990s ‘all white shirts look’) – just coordinated.

– Babies – ensure their clothes will not ‘scrunch up’ to hide their features, Consider bringing a top layer that they can take off for the shoot.

– Make up – somewhere between day wear and full-on evening glam is about right. Most women find make up is more subtle on camera than in the mirror so don’t be afraid to wear a little more than usual. Focus on defining your features – making your eyes and cheek bones pop.

– Avoid black and white where possible, cream is a better option than white, navy or grey is better than black. This prevents extreme contrast and is important for both colour and black and white images.


– It’s best to select colours that fit together in a similar palette.  If you are unsure then lay the clothes out together on a bed and see how they look. Does any one item ‘jump out at you’ more than the others?

– Neutral, muted colours, are always my preference as they blend together well and don’t date so much. (See some examples below)

I have put together a few colour palettes. Please do not limit yourself to these but they help explain what I mean… (I don’t think the word ‘muted’ translates very well for all languages!!)

UPDATE: Check out some of the lovely colour palettes and co-ordinating wardrobe choices clients made at the 2014 Mother’s day shoots

Clare Breheny Photography_0233