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What to wear?

You’ve booked a family portrait session. You’ve even wandered round the house, contemplating where this new addition will hang – and you have found it -the perfect spot. You also know where you will place a couple of smaller ones in another room and not forgetting some for the Grandparents.

The children are primed, bribed and ready to smile. And then someone casually mentions clothes.

Panic – blind panic washes over you. Do you need to rush out and buy a whole set of new, and matching clothes for the entire family? Can you still buy children’s sailor suits online?

Fear not, for long gone are the requirements for matching outfits. No-one wishes to look back at their photographs and cringe. The plan is that these photos will be displayed on your walls for many years. They should make you smile, maybe laugh, but ultimately, remember.

Choosing clothes for a professional photoshoot need not be a concern.

Keep it simple and try to stick to the following Top Five Tips when choosing your outfits:

No. 1 Consider where the pictures are going to feature in your home.

Do you have bold colours on the walls, busy wallpaper or are you more of a neutrals or grey kind of household?

Since you will be displaying these photographs in your home, you'll want them to accentuate your decor. 

I am not suggesting you redecorate – but seriously, consider where you are going to hang framed photographs before the shoot. We don’t all have unlimited wall space and huge rooms, but busy wallpaper, or a very bold colour, may detract from the finished photograph.


Creating a relaxed space for the framed prints to hang will give you many hours of happiness.


No. 2 Coordinate colours

The idea is that the clothes will enhance the photographs and not detract from the people in it.  

Limit your colour choice, avoid neon and fluorescent colours at all costs and keep it simple with a small selection of colour. Plain tones tend to work really well – think blues, greys and greens, or you could always go effortlessly chic in blacks and whites.

This will ensure that the finished product will be beautifully coordinated. By not being stressed out with what everyone is wearing you can choose comfortable outfits that will look great together.

And do not forget that you do not want the framed photograph to clash with the colours on the wall or in the room – refer back to point 1.


No. 3 Keep it comfortable and You!

Everyone loves getting dressed up – well, most people do – however, while the ballgown and tuxedo can look spectacular in photographs it is not necessarily the look you want for a family portrait. We rarely wander round the house in our evening dress and pearls. (Well, I do, but I’ll save that for another time) so ideally, its more about what you’d all wear for dinner or an evening out.

Having photographs taken and then hanging them on the wall requires a look that you are all familiar with and represents you all. Fiddling with a stiff shirt collar or attempting to breathe against the rigid confines of a dress that has not been worn in a while, do not bode well for a fun and relaxed photo shoot.

Thankfully, those days of the ‘straight-backed awkwardness’ look are well behind us.


No. 4 Conceal not reveal

Let’s face it – despite wishing we didn’t, we all have parts of our bodies that we would rather the camera didn’t shout back at us.

Faces are what is important for the photo shoot, with laughter and personality leaping from the print. So, with this in mind, think about those areas you’d rather not be faced with and dress to accentuate the parts you do love.

Avoid baggy clothing. Believe me, you will regret that choice if you don’t!


No. 5 Avoid wearing logos – less pattern is always better

There is most definitely a place for logos and patterns, but a photo shoot is not it!

Picture your family together in the studio – there is laughter and banter and the photographer is happily clicking away and then you look left and Uncle Sid has his AC/DC T-shirt on and the teenagers wearing their favourite Adidas hoodie (there are other sports brands available) while the rest of you are wearing black. Need I go on? No, okay – you get the idea!

With children, try to avoid having their favourite Disney character’s face plastered all over their clothing. It all creates distraction and really – the simpler the better.

While I’m on the subject of children let me make this point – bribery is absolutely okay when it comes to having a family portrait taken.

Maybe think of something you can do as a family after the shoot to keep them focused – the cinema or a pizza and film at home – the ones where you get the duvets down and make nests are always a fave!


Finally, try to focus on the experience and enjoy it. No family is perfect so relax, have fun and laugh at the antics going on around you and make sure you join in. The photographer will most likely capture those unposed moments and they really can make for the best photos. 

​The best photographs reflect the life you all live – in that moment and at that time so embrace how wonderful (and chaotic) family life can be.

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