What to Wear for Family Portraits [Full Guide]

By Ramina Magid – Newborn Photography Studio in Los Angeles, CA

family portraits

What to Wear for Family Portraits [Full Guide]

Deciding what your family should wear for family portraits can seem hard. From the smallest baby to the eldest grandparent, every family member’s outfit contributes to the shoot’s success. In this guide, we’ll explore tips and tricks, from coordinating colors to choosing the right accessories, to ensure everyone looks their best and feels confident. 

The Basics of Dressing for a Family Photo Session

Picking out the perfect outfits for a family photo can feel like you’re trying to solve a puzzle where every piece has to fit just right. You want to create a picture that’s worth framing, where every member of your family looks their best and feels comfortable. I remember the first time we had our family portrait taken- I was as confused as anyone could be. Should we match? Should we go formal or keep it casual? After some trial and error, I’ve learned that the secret is in the harmony of colors, patterns, and styles that reflect not just individual personalities but also the collective spirit of the family.

For harmonious colors and styles for your family, consider visiting stores like Gap, Old Navy, or J.Crew, which often have coordinating pieces for adults and kids. For more formal attire, department stores like Nordstrom or Macy’s offer a wide range of options that can fit various body types and personal styles.

Coordinating Colors: A Foundation for Family Portrait Success

When it comes to family portraits, coordinating colors doesn’t mean everyone in the same shade of blue. It’s about selecting a color palette that complements each member and works cohesively on camera. I’ve found that choosing three to four complementary colors allows for some variety while still ensuring a unified look.

For example, a mix of earthy tones with a pop of mustard yellow can look stunning against the green backdrop of a park. Remember, the aim is to complement, not compete. You’ll want to avoid colors that clash or are too matchy-matchy, as they tend to distract rather than attract.

Understanding Patterns and Prints

Patterns and prints can add a fun element to your photos, but they need to be chosen carefully. Large, loud patterns can overwhelm the photo, while subtle, smaller prints can add texture and interest. I always suggest that if one person wears a pattern, others should select solid colors drawn from that pattern. It’s a great way to ensure balance and harmony in your family portrait. And don’t forget, patterns are not just for clothing, they can be introduced through accessories as well!

Choosing Outfits to Complement the Setting

The setting of your photo shoot can drastically alter the mood and feel of your family portrait. Whether you’re at the beach with the sun setting behind you or in a cozy studio, your outfits should complement the environment.

Indoor vs. Outdoor Sessions: Dressing for the Location

For outdoor sessions, consider the landscape and the time of day. If you’re shooting in a lush, green park, earthy tones and pastels can blend beautifully with the surroundings. Meanwhile, an urban setting with brick and concrete may call for bolder colors or chic monochromes.

For indoor shoots, you have more control over the background and lighting, so you can afford to be adventurous with colors and patterns. However, avoid clothing that matches the backdrop too closely—you don’t want to blend in, you want to stand out!

Seasonal Considerations: Comfort and Style No Matter the Weather

Always keep the season in mind. In summer, light fabrics and brighter colors work well, while in autumn, you might opt for layers and richer, deeper colors. For winter, chunky knits and scarves can add texture, and in spring, florals and pastels can mirror the blossoming outdoors. Comfort is key, especially for the kids—if they’re not happy, it’ll show in the photos!

family portraits
family portraits

Color Palettes for Family Portraits

A color palette can set the tone for your entire shoot. It’s about more than just looking good; it’s about feeling good and expressing your family’s unique vibe.

Selecting a Color Scheme: Tips for a Cohesive Family Look

Choosing a color scheme can be as simple as looking in your closet. What colors do you tend to gravitate towards? What shades make you feel like you’re at your best? These are the colors you’ll want to consider. Soft colors like blues, greys, and creams can give off a gentle, timeless feel, while a combination of jewel tones can evoke a sense of warmth and richness.

If you’re looking to build a color scheme for your family’s outfits, retailers such as H&M and Zara offer a variety of contemporary styles in a range of colors that could inspire your palette. For a more timeless look, consider brands like Banana Republic or Ann Taylor, which provide classic pieces in neutral tones.

Colors to Avoid

Bright whites can be tricky because they tend to reflect light and may overpower the photo. On the other end, all black can lose detail and dimension. Neons are a definite no as they can create color casts on the skin and are distracting. Instead, look for muted versions of your favorite bright colors, like a soft fuchsia instead of neon pink.

Layering and Accessories

Adding Depth with Layers: A Tip for Dynamic Family Photos

Layers not only add a touch of complexity and richness to your family portraits but also allow for quick style changes without a full outfit swap. They can adapt to the changing weather if you’re shooting outdoors or add variety to the images captured. A woman’s flowing scarf or a man’s vest can break up the monotony of a plain shirt. Layers can also help disguise areas you’re self-conscious about and highlight the ones you love.

For children, consider practicality—layering a cute sweater over a dress or a button-down beneath a sweater vest can keep them warm and stylish. And don’t forget about layering textures, too; a mix of denim, cotton, and wool can create a rich tapestry that looks fabulous on camera.

The Role of Accessories: Balancing Personality with Simplicity

Continuing with accessories, they’re the sprinkle of personality on your family portrait’s canvas. The key is selecting pieces that represent you but don’t take away from the overall image. A well-chosen hat can shade your face while adding character. A delicate bracelet or a rugged leather cuff can speak volumes about your style. For kids, a cherished toy or a favorite book can add a personal touch that also helps them feel more comfortable during the shoot.

But it’s also about balance. Too many accessories can clutter the image, so choose wisely. For example, if mom is wearing a bold necklace, dad might skip the tie, or if one child has a brightly colored headband, the other might go for more subdued shoes. This balance ensures that when someone looks at your family portrait, they see a harmonious group, each individual complementing the others, with no single element fighting for attention.

Remember, every layer and accessory should add something to the story you’re telling through your family portrait. Whether it’s a scarf that brings out the color of your eyes, or a hat that throws back to your family’s heritage, these elements can turn a good photo into a great one.

To find accessories that add the right touch of personality, check out retailers like Accessorize or Anthropologie for unique pieces. For children’s accessories that are both cute and comfortable, a store like Gymboree might have just what you need. Also, don’t forget to look on Etsy for handmade and personalized items that can make your family portrait extra special.

The Fit and Flatter Guide for Parents

Dressing for a family portrait can sometimes feel like picking an outfit for a first date, you want to look your best and feel confident. But unlike your singleton days, now you’re coordinating for a group where every member shines, including you!

Tailor Choices to Your Body Type:

Every body type has its own charm, and the key is to dress in a way that celebrates it. Parents often ask me for advice, and I always say, “Wear what makes you feel good!” Clothes that fit well—neither too tight nor too loose—can make all the difference. Moms, a cinched waist can highlight your shape, and dads, a tailored shirt can showcase your frame. And remember, tailored doesn’t mean tight; it means it fits your body just right.

Accentuating Features: How to Pose and Dress for Empowerment

When it comes to posing, small adjustments can have a big impact. For example, angling your body slightly can create a more dynamic image. Simple tricks like placing your hands on your hips or pockets can also help you look more relaxed and natural. Choose outfits that accentuate your favorite features. Love your shoulders? Go sleeveless. Proud of your height? Vertical stripes can enhance that. It’s all about wearing what empowers you.

See my full step-by-step guide on preparing for your family photos here.

Dressing for the Theme of Your Shoot

Whether it’s a casual backyard session or a grand hall event, your outfit should align with the feel of the shoot. It’s not just about the clothes, it’s about telling a story.

Thematic Outfit Choices: From Casual to Formal

If you’re planning a casual shoot, soft denim paired with a breezy blouse or shirt can give off a relaxed vibe. For a formal portrait, think of classic dresses and suits. The key is consistency—if one goes formal, everyone should. It keeps the theme unified and the photograph cohesive.

Celebratory Shoots: Outfit Ideas for Anniversaries, Holidays, and More

Celebrating a milestone? Dress for the occasion! Anniversaries might call for a hint of the original wedding colors, while holiday photos can play off the season’s palette. For these shoots, it’s fun to get a bit more thematic with your clothing choices to really capture the spirit of the celebration.

For anniversaries, particularly if you want to echo your wedding day, shops that specialize in formal wear, like David’s Bridal or Men’s Wearhouse, could offer elegant options. They often have attire that can be coordinated by color or style, allowing you to pay homage to your special day.

During the holidays, you might want to reflect the festive spirit in your outfits. For this, a store Target will offer seasonal collections that could provide both adult and kids’ outfits in holiday colors and motifs.

For other celebrations, such as birthdays or graduations, you might want to incorporate brighter colors or more playful attire. For kids, shops like The Children’s Place or Janie and Jack offer fun, occasion-appropriate outfits. Adults might find a range of options at stores like Express or ASOS, which offer both trendy and classic styles.

Remember, for any themed shoot, it’s not just about the clothing but also the accessories and the overall ensemble. If you’re going for a vintage look, for example, a trip to a local thrift store or a browse through online vintage shops could yield some unique finds.

The Importance of Proper Footwear in Family Portraits

Shoes often go unnoticed, but they can tie an outfit together or become a distracting mismatch. They’re the foundation—literally—of your outfit.

Choosing the Right Shoes: A Step Towards a Successful Shoot

Footwear should be comfortable and clean, ideally complementing the outfit’s color scheme. For outdoor shoots, avoid stilettos that could sink into the grass, and for indoor shoots, ensure that the shoes are scuff-free to protect studio floors.

When to Consider Going Barefoot: A Tip for Natural Family Portraits

Sometimes, no shoes is the best look, especially for beach or certain indoor shoots. It can give a sense of home or leisure that shoes simply can’t. If you choose to go barefoot, make sure everyone’s on board and that the setting is safe for little feet.

Preparing for the Unexpected: Backup Plans and Quick Fixes

No matter how much you plan, life has a way of throwing a curveball or two, especially with kids in the mix!

The Emergency Kit: Must-Have Items for Last-Minute Adjustments

Pack an emergency kit with safety pins, a small sewing kit, and even a backup shirt or two. You never know when a spill might happen or a button might pop off. This kit can be a photoshoot lifesaver.

Quick Change Strategies: Tips for Dealing with Spills and Wrinkles

In the event of a spill, having a stain remover stick on han wil be super useful. For wrinkles, a portable steamer can smooth things out in a pinch. And if all else fails, remember that some imperfections can be edited out post-shoot, so don’t let a little spill disrupt the fun.

Ramina Magid Newborn Photography

At Ramina Magid Photography studio in Los Angeles we are currently open for booking family, baby, cake smash and newborn photo shoot sessions. You can see photoshoot pricing under each portfolio page and our photography reviews here. Our studio is located at 1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035.

Conclusion

As we wrap up this comprehensive guide to selecting the perfect attire for your family portraits, remember that the most important aspect is that you and your loved ones feel comfortable and confident in front of the camera. Great family portraits are not just about looking straight at the lens looking proper, they’re about the laughter, the natural poses, the candid moments, and the love that shines through when a family interacts genuinely with one another.

If you’re ready to book your shoot and close to the Los Angeles area, feel free to contact me, I have a beautiful studio in Beverly Hills and am here to help you do just that! 

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Ramina Magid Photography is a family, maternity, and newborn photography studio located in Los Angeles, CA, minutes away from Santa Monica, Beverly Hills and West LA. Ramina is a Los Angeles newborn photographer, baby photographer, and family photographer. Serving Los Angeles and surrounding cities including Burbank, Brentwood, Pasadena, La Canada, Sherman Oaks, Studio City, Pacific Palisades, Santa Clarita, Van Nuys, West Hollywood, San Marino, Calabasas, San Bernardino, Malibu, Altadena, Covina, Alhambra, Granada Hills, Marina Del Rey, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, and all other communities in Southern California.