What to Wear? Colours, Textures, & Family Photography Sessions

For many, deciding what to wear in for family photos can be a bit of challenge. It used to so easy. Everyone would just wear the EXACT same thing: white t-shirt & khakis, plaid shirts all around, or the dreaded Canadian tuxedo (denim shirt & jeans). Unfortunately, there are a few more considerations to be had in photographing more modern family portraits like showcasing the unique, individual style and personalities that make up the family as whole. 

Here are my top five tips when deciding what to wear for your family photography sessions:

1. Choose a colour palette

If your family portrait is going to be hanging in your neutral coloured living room, this is easy. The world is your oyster. But if you’ve decided to fashion your den after Austin Powers love shack, then you should probably base your clothing choices off of colours within that similar bold palette.

Pinterest is a great tool to discover complimentary colour themes, in particular a website a lot of photographers use called Design Seeds. Here you will find beautiful palettes inspired by professional imagery that will really help train your eyes to start seeing which colours go well together. 

2. Find a focal piece & pick 3

It’s easiest to come up with a colour palette if you play it off of a patterned piece of clothing that you love, such as a plaid shirt or a floral dress. This will be the focal piece for the session and will help guide your planning of all other complimentary clothing and colours choices. 

For the best results, pick 3 colours that compliment your chosen focal piece and then add in a couple neutrals (greys, whites, blacks).

3. Add texture with layers & accessories

Items like necklaces, cardigans, scarves, ties, or hats that mix materials like metal, wool, or silk will add dimension and texture to the overall photograph. They’ll also help to showcase the individual style and personalities of your family members.

As well, if there are new items you’ve purchased and you’re not sure about, be sure to leave the tags on and keep the receipt as you can always return it after, if it ends up not working out.

4. Split up the colour

Remember when we talked earlier about everyone wearing the same thing? It still stands. Try not to have your chosen colours all be along the top of the photo. Rather try to spread your colours around towards the bottom of the photo with your choices of pants, skirts, and shoes (Converse sneakers anyone?).

It’s also important to split up the colours between the natural pairs in your family: mom & dad, brother & sister, mother & daughter, father & son, etc. 

5. Lay it out 

When you’ve collected clothing pieces in the colours you’ve picked, find a spot in your home and lay them out. It’s even a good idea to take a picture and look at it from a different perspective.