Tips for Family Portraits

January 25, 2017  •  Leave a Comment



      Lake Mills family photography           Lake Mills photographer

The most commonly asked question that I hear as a photographer is “what should we wear?” Deciding what to wear in your family portraits can feel overwhelming and stressful, so I have a few tips to help in the decision making process!


Where do you plan to display your photos? Take into consideration the decor of your home environment and the personality of your family. Since you will be displaying your family portraits in your home, it’s best to have your photos fit your home decor. If your home is all neutral tones and you plan to wear neon orange and bold yellow, that may not work well when displaying photos. If you have bold-colored walls and are drawn to bright clothing, go with it.

The key is to coordinate your family outfits rather than be “matchy-matchy.” The days of simply wearing white shirts and jeans or khakis are past and tend to look dated. I recommend selecting three main colors. Establish a base color like navy, black, gray, or beige and then add two coordinating colors to the base color.


Once you have your color palette in mind, you could select one piece that really is a favorite and build the rest of the wardrobe around that. What is a piece of clothing that you or your spouse love to wear? It may be a skirt or dress. Maybe it’s a shirt or sweater that you just feel fantastic wearing. From this one loved piece, select other items for the rest of the family that coordinate around it.


Once you have your main clothing items in place, it’s time to add a little dimension and texture with your accessories. Accessories are an opportunity to show your personality. It may be a necklace, headband, scarf, belt, a vest or jacket that adds a bit of WOW! factor to your outfits. Textures are your friend! As long as the accessories are not overwhelming or overtly trendy, they can add to the photo.


Bold patterns on each family member is distracting. Having one family member wear a plaid shirt or a floral dress that uses all of the coordinating colors may be a nice idea. However, if each family member is wearing bold patterns or plaids, it will be overwhelming to the eye.


I want you to feel fabulous in your clothes, but it’s also important that you feel comfortable. Often you look your best when you feel your best in an outfit. So, if your feet hurt in the shoes that you selected or you are finding it challenging to move, it is best to pick another item to wear. Comfort is especially key for children! Your child may look adorable in a certain outfit, but if it is itchy, hurting them or they are freezing, it’s challenging to get an authentic smile.


The goal of your images is to not only have beautiful photos of your family at this time, but also photos that aren’t instantly dated due to a trendy style.

Your child may adore a certain Disney Princess, Minecraft or Pokemon today, but it’s best to keep those cartoon images in Lifestyle Photography sessions depicting daily life in the home rather than you family portrait session.

Lake Mills family portraitsLake Mills family portraits

Still need help? A great resource is Pinterest “What to Wear Family Portraits” if you would like additional visual assistance. There are countless “pins” of outfits for families portraits clothing options.

Joanna Niven Photography is located at 102 Water Street in downtown Lake Mills. Joanna Niven Photography creates natural light maternity portraits, birth photography, newborn and family portraits. Contact me today to book your photography session!


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