Emma Larkan 

Fine art portraits

What to wear for your Family Portrait Session

Lifestyle Family Photography is a unique way of telling your story and providing timeless pieces of art to add to your visual legacy. The outfits you choose need to stand the test of time, yet be comfortable and suit the personalities of your family members. It’s understandable that styling your family for your upcoming portrait session can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be if you follow some of these guidelines.

  • Preparation is key.

    Try on your outfits at least two to three weeks before the photo shoot. This allows you to make sure that your outfits are clean and they fit. Nothing is worse than finding out the day before your shoot that the cute floral dress you were planning on dressing your 4 year old in no longer fits, resulting in a mad scramble down to the mall because you have nothing else suitable in the closet!

  • Complement each outfit, but avoid matching.

    This is really important. Pick a striking outfit for ONE family member and coordinate from that. For example, if Mom is going to wear a dramatic flowing emerald green dress, think about colors that will compliment that dress. Think contrasting colors like mustard, burgundy and denim.

  • Patterns and Prints.

    Have only one or two family members wear an outfit with a print and coordinate from there. If more than two members of the family wears a print it can be distracting.


Notice how the clean gingham pattern adds interest, and compliments the delicate floral print of the little girls shorts. The rest of the family are dressed in simple yet stylish outfits.

Notice how the clean gingham pattern adds interest, and compliments the delicate floral print of the little girls shorts. The rest of the family are dressed in simple yet stylish outfits.

  • Location.

    Think about where you will be shooting and choose your outfits accordingly. If you are going to be shooting in a green meadow, think about contrasting colors that will pop against the green, like burgundy, mustard and denim. If you are having an in-home photo shoot and you have neutral tones, think of colors and textures that will compliment those neutral colors. like mustards, blues and greens.

  • bring back ups for children.

    Children love to explore, and sometimes can get dirty during family photo shoots, especially those wearing light colors. Therefore it’s always better to bring a back up and not need it than the other way around.


The green of this Mama’s dress and the denim of Dad and daughter contrast against the golden grass of the meadow.

The green of this Mama’s dress and the denim of Dad and daughter contrast against the golden grass of the meadow.

  • Media brands and Logo’s don’t work.

    This is an important one. Some children are really attached to their Little Mermaid t-shirt or Dad to his Patagonia sweater, but trust me when I say that this type of clothing does not photograph well and can distract from the classic and timeless imagery you want hanging on your walls. It’s best to prepare kids by having a conversation with them a couple of days before hand, about their outfit choices. If your child has really strong feelings about media themed clothing, you can always bring that favorite tee along to the session and have them put it on at the end of the shoot for a couple of shots.

  • Avoid Primary Colors

    Primary colors, especially red can reflect a color cast onto yours and your families skin. It’s preferable to avoid these colors as they can be tricky to correct while editing!

  • have fun!

    It’s not everyday you get to dress up and take your family on a photo shoot, so enjoy it to the fullest and have fun choosing those outfits.


For a larger family group this mixture of colors, patterns and textures works beautifully.

For a larger family group this mixture of colors, patterns and textures works beautifully.

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