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What To Wear For Your Family Portrait - 7 Simple Steps

It can seem overwhelming when considering what to wear for your family portrait but it doesn’t need to be. Follow these 7 simple steps to avoid the stress and create beautiful family photos that you will enjoy looking at again and again.

Deciding what to wear for your family portrait can be a challenge. After all, you are creating portraits you are going to hang on your walls and cherish for years to come, and may even be passed down to future generations, so it is really worth the effort to choose fantastic clothing and make these portraits something even more special.

1. Coordinate, Don't Match For A Beautiful Themed Portrait

When deciding what to wear for your family portrait think along the lines of having a theme rather than wearing a uniform. Picking a few neutral tones that work well together means that your family can have some flexibility. Individual members of the family can still express their character and at the same time fit in.


A great way to see if clothes co-ordinate is to lay them on the bed and see if they work well together. Some clothing websites and shops group their clothing by a colour theme. This is great for getting ideas (and even purchasing).


If you do splash out and treat yourself to a new outfit make sure it is comfortable before your shoot - especially check the sizes for children as these can vary. Also, ensure any packing creases have been ironed out - for example on men's button shirts.

Derby Family Photographer

This family decided to wear clothing in a sports theme. It was only when they had all got changed that they noticed that some were Puma and some Nike. We used this to make a humorous portrait that the family loved and ended up being a feature framed photo in their home!

2. Play To Your Strengths In What Makes You Feel Confident

Starting with outfits that make you feel confident and comfortable is a great place to begin. Favourite clothing can really help you relax and help your character shine through in your portrait session. If there is a 'must have' outfit this could be a great individual portrait choice, or you can get everyone else to pick their clothes around you!

Because you are at home you can have as many outfit changes as you like. Starting in your favourite outfit gives you a boost of confidence that sets you up for a great session overall. Similarly, we like to encourage a teenager’s sense of style to help draw out their personality and make them feel special. Accessories and fashion items are a great idea; and indeed anything that thinks outside the box is welcomed.

Family Portrait Photography What Clothes To WearIn this portrait the family all wore similar neutral tones, yet each person was able to express their own personality and style.

3. Avoid Distracting The Viewer's Eye Away From Your Face

When looking at your portrait you and your loved ones will want to focus in on your faces. There are some clothes that really distract and overpower your image. In our experience these are often the portraits that don't get put on the wall. Here are a few items that can distract, particularly if they are not the usual sort of thing that you wear and some suggestions that help:

Super bright colours - try using pastels instead, particularly on portraits that contain groups of children

Neon - just avoid as this also can create a colour cast on your skin

Dramatic stripes and patterns - go for a more subtle pattern or softer strip, solid colours remove any issues completely

Slogans on T-shirts (particularly offensive ones) - these can be fun for example a happy birthday shot, but generally they take away rather than add to your portrait

Popular TV/Disney character clothing - your portrait will be produced to last a lifetime (and beyond), in that time Peppa Pig, Dora the Explorer and the latest Disney princess will be much less relevant.

When I was small I lived in my polyester batman T-shirt - despite it being very itchy I loved it. It made me feel like a cool dude super hero. My parents would have had my photo taken in it just to remember that I loved it so much. However, for the main family portrait I would have worn something else. This is a great advantage of being at home for your portrait session.

4. Even out your tones

Wearing pure white or pure black clothing can create yet another distraction. Creams and darker tones add interest and depth particularly against our hand painted backdrops.


Similarly it is best to wear similar tones on your top and bottom. Lighter colours often make sitters look bigger; so a light colour on top with dark trousers will make your top look larger (and vice versa). Using similar tones for your top and bottom adds balance and focuses attention back onto you rather than your clothing.

5. Make Up and Jewellery

Just like clothing make up and jewellery can also be a distraction. If you do not normally wear heavy make up then I recommend starting with a gentle look - you can always add more later. Don't forget you can change out your look as often as you like and there is no time constraint.


If you have a sudden eruption of spots or other minor blemishes don't cover them up with a really heavy layer of foundation or cover up cream. When I edit your photos I remove temporary blemishes and this is much easier than creating new skin texture to hide a thick layer of make up.


If you have an issue just let me know and we can decide what to do. Many people try to hide broken teeth, acne, red spots, scars, moles and so on by posing in an unnatural way. These are all straightforward to sort out afterwards, so relax in the knowledge that they will be gone!


In a similar way, we all have something we do not like about ourselves. My list includes my nose, double chin and forehead - yours might be hands, jaw or ears. Once again, just let me know and I will help you to pose in such a way that you feel great about yourself.

6. Think About Your Feet

Don't forget your shoes. In many portraits you may be seated or standing and your shows may be on display. As a general rule bare feet look good if everyone in the portrait is shoes off. Smaller children are fine without shoes (although my wife and I love those really little kids shoes).

7. Sweat the Details

Small details can make a big difference and I will work with you to make sure your portrait looks as great as possible. Common overlooked areas include: Mobile phones in pockets can cause unsightly shapes. Pet hair can get everywhere (we know we have a beagle) so a quick check, especially on darker clothes really helps. Visible bra straps and underwear might be part of your style...or not.



Finally, clothing and styling is a very subjective and personal choice. Remember that at the end of the day this is your portrait session, and you are creating the memories that you want.

Peter Nutkins Photography - Professional Photography At Your Location | Based in the Midlands Serving the UK
109 Birches Ln South Wingfield Alfreton DE55 7LZ | peter@peternutkins.com | Tel: +44 (0) 1773432007 | Privacy Policy | Copyright © 2020