Clients often ask me what to wear for their family photo shoot.
Above all else, I want you to wear something that represents you, as a family. There is no use buying clothes that do not suit you and your style. You do not want to look back at your photos in 2 or 10 years time, and cringe, remembering that time you all wore “those clothes” for some family photos.
That being said, there are definitely guidelines I give to my clients when it comes to clothing choices for their family portrait sessions.
- Choose clothes that don’t overwhelm – this can be colour, pattern or style. The photos we are taking are not for a fashion spread in a magazine. We are creating family pieces of art, capturing the connection, the love, the relationships between your family. The photos are not about the clothes, they are about you, so we don’t want the clothes to be the stars.
- You don’t all have to match – choosing clothes with a colour story, similarities in tone or temperature is great. But you do not have to all be in blue jeans and white t-shirts. In fact, I strongly discourage coming in matching white tees and jeans! Some clients like to choose one colour to weave through different outfits within the family, but in subtle ways. Maybe one child is wearing a bold mustard, the other outfits compliment this bold colour, rather than clashing with it such as in the family portrait below.
- Colour temperature and tones can be a good guide – Colours can be divided into different temperatures. Warm versus Cool. Warm colours such as red, yellow, and orange; evoke warmth because they remind us of things like the sun or fire. Cool colors — such as blue, green, and purple (violet); evoke a cool feeling because they remind us of things like water or grass. Tones can be bright, vibrant, subtle, pastels, darks, or lights. Choosing clothing with similar colour temperatures and tones can help create a coherent colour story. Mixing in neutrals with a couple of colours makes sure you are not all matching. Classic neutrals such as beige, ivory, taupe, black, gray and shades of cream and white appear to be without color, but in many applications these hues often have undertones. Be aware of these underlying tones as you match colours and clothes. You ultimately want to create a colour palette of between 2-4 colours, with some neutrals included in this palette. For example in the image above, the colour palette was something similar to this:
- Dress to a similar dress code – This is one that I think is super important. Don’t put Mum in a beautiful lace dress with heels, and have Dad in a pair of boardies and thongs. Make sure you all look like you are going to the same event. And keep our location in mind – high heels at the beach are not very practical or comfortable! This is an occasion to dress up a little though. Even if we are shooting at the beach, swimmers and sarongs are not necessarily the look we are going for. This can be a good chance to dress your family in an elegant, sophisticated way, ensuring you are still staying true to your style.
- Accessories are awesome – Changing outfits mid-session is a No-No for me. It disrupts the rhythm of the session, and it can alter a child’s mood dramatically. What was a happy and cooperative 4 year old one minute, can be very upset if he/she doesn’t want to put on the other outfit you brought with you or take off the one they are wearing now. But, you can easily add and remove accessories without too many problems. Hats, scarves, cardigans and jackets, headbands, jewellery and beanies are all great to use to change to look and feel of a portrait without needing much effort or causing too much disruption. Layers are the key.
- Graphic t-shirts and large comic characters are best avoided – Clothing wrinkles, folds and is sometimes obscured by arms and heads in portraits. There is nothing worse than a cute quote on a t-shirt actually spelling out an obscene word because of an unfortunate fold in the top or a strange angle of the camera. So avoid graphics on t-shirts altogether.
- Patterns are great, but not on everyone – I love patterns, and there are so many gorgeous dresses and shirts around at the moment with just beautiful prints and patterns. Stunning romantic maxi-dresses for mum and dapper checked shirts for dad. But not everyone in the family and portraits should be in a pattern.
- Lace & subtle textures are a YES! – I love all things lace, texture, embroidery. Anything that adds a subtle detail to your clothing without overwhelming. I also love how classic and timeless lace is.
- Classic & classy – if you are still not sure what your style is choose something classic, classy, something that won’t date. Soft pastels colours, a lace blouse or dress, a simple linen collared shirt.
- Shoes can make or break an outfit – Make sure you are happy with the shoes your family members are wearing. They will be in the portraits, and they can really make or break a photo gallery. If you hate someone’s shoes, you are not going to like the photos.
- Rules are made to be broken – in the images above you can see how beautiful warm yellows pair with cool blues and denim colours. So mix and match, just don’t overwhelm your family members with too much or we won’t be able to see them for their clothes.
- Take a photo of your outfits together – Send it through to me if you aren’t sure. Ask yourself if the clothes compliment each other? Do the tones match? Is everyone dressed for the same dress code?
- Pinterest is a great source of inspiration – But don’t get overwhelmed. Take some inspiration and then find your own style for your portraits. What do you want to be looking at hanging on your wall in 2 or 10 years time? I have a Pinterest Board full of some of my favourite family portrait outfits and palette’s if you want some more inspiration: https://www.pinterest.com.au/breehulme/what-to-wear-for-family-portraits/
- Let your fingers do the shopping – browse around online for some classic and beautiful clothes that won’t take away from your portraits. Below are some of my favourite little children’s boutiques for buying outfits for photo sessions and a few of my favourite Mum boutiques as well. These match my style – classic, with a just a hint of colour, beautiful vintage prints and a taste of a time gone by. But you find your own style for your family portraits as well.
- Finally, a Mani & Pedi might mean you don’t cringe at the photos of yourself where you are barefoot on the beach and just finish off your polished outfit, and if hair and makeup will make you feel even more polished, then ask me for recommendations for some amazing hair and make up specialists to use before your session.
Lila + Huxley – Lila + Huxley is a destination children’s emporium showcasing a carefully curated mix of leading Australian and International designer brands. Their shop front is located in Freshwater Village on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. Lila + Huxley’s ethos is to find very, very cool apparel and accessories for parents who wish to dress their kids as extensions of themselves. They demand quality and ethical manufacturing from all the brands they work with. Lila + Huxley’s focus is on organic cottons, child friendly fabrics, boutique brands and ethically manufactured goods. https://www.lilaandhuxley.com
Aubrie – Aubrie is inspired by the little girls all over the world and their love of little details and pretty things. Aubrie offers timeless femininity, vintage details, pretty prints and quirky colours in beautiful natural fabrics. https://aubrie.com.au
Peggy – Peggy aims to keep an air of ‘old fashioned whimsicality’ in its gorgeous designs. The range features dresses, pants, nappy covers and hats – all of which can be mixed and matched for a quirky boho effect. https://www.peggy.com.au
Printebebe – Printebebe is a simple girls clothing range from 3 months – 8 years. Wear one stand out printed piece, or…. the way we like it best, is print on print. https://www.printebebe.com
Mabo Kids – Specializes in fine children’s clothing designed for little ones’ comfort and simple style. With quality, natural fabrics – cotton and linen for summer and cozy wools for winter, our clothing is characterized by classic, clean designs with contemporary and playful details. https://www.mabokids.com
Fabrik – Creator of a beautiful, feminine range of clothes and accessories from a range of natural fibres; cotton, supima, muslin…and made by a group of seamstresses that were well paid and actually enjoyed their work.” https://fabrikstore.com/collections/child
Just Jack – We believe being a young boy should be about climbing trees and scraping knees and knowing the right time to use the word please, welcome to the world of Just Jack. http://www.justjack.com.au/shorts/
Anchor and Fox – Anchor & Fox is a small children’s footwear boutique based in Melbourne, Australia. Our shoes are all designed by us in Australia with practicality and beauty in mind, with the lines taking inspiration from European style. https://www.anchorandfox.com.au
Sunny and Finn – The hip world of clothing and accessories. I design as a mother… albeit a bit all over the place, with my babes at the forefront of my mind. This has enabled me to construct (yes I have boys), practical products. https://www.sunnyandfinn.com/collections/boys
Jamie Kay – Each piece is designed from Jamie’s studio in New Zealand and carefully considered to ensure her designs are not just exquisite but our fibers and quality outstanding and perfect for your family and home. https://jamiekay.com
Mama Owl – Natural clothes, toys, shoes and baby things! Cotton, linen and lots of wool. This store stocks lots of beautiful labels for BOYS and girls. Mama Owl specialises in natural clothes, perfect for those concerned about toxins and for children with sensitive skin. Our products are beautiful and high quality. MamaOwl is owned by Danish mother Anna, and is based in the UK. https://mamaowl.net
Heritage The Label – Heritage the Label strive to bring a vintage inspired clothing label that is timeless but unique in every way. Their Collections are designed with passion and practicality in mind.
Every piece is carefully made by hand using natural fibres. https://heritagethelabel.com
Beau Hudson – Beau Hudson is an Australian fashion label that has quickly achieved a global following through its aesthetic designs and engaging lifestyle social media content. Founded in 2013 as a creative outlet for Founder and Designer Sash Deacon, Beau Hudson is a fusion of classic and simplistic designs, contrasting with bold and on trend accents which brings a sense of timeless style, evident in every piece of clothing. The brand is synonymous with uncompromising quality and meticulous attention to detail to ensure that every Beau Hudson piece is comfortable, durable and empowers confidence to those who wear them. https://www.beauhudson.co
The Cherry Shop – Gorgeous dresses and prints. https://thecherryshop.com.au
By Samantha Melbourne – Flatteringly comfortable wrap dresses. We’re passionate about making the perfect wrap dress that helps you to feel confidently and comfortable whilst looking sexy and chic! https://www.bysamantha.net/collections/all
Bohemian Traders – Classic styles for the modern bohemian, seeking to blend classic European styles and cuts with a bohemian twist. Since our inception, our aim has been to provide size inclusive fashion basics for the modern bohemian. https://bohemiantraders.com
And here is a little sneak peek of what my family wore for our portraits captured by the talented and amazing Courtney Holmes.