What to Wear for a Family Portrait Session

Ingrid K. Studio


Today’s post is from family photographer Ingrid Meagher of Ingrid K. Studio in Jersey City, New Jersey — a longtime friend and early supporter of Animoto. We caught up with Ingrid and Nate to find out what to wear (and what not to wear) for a family portrait session.

My clients often ask what they should wear for a session and with good reason: there are times when bad clothes happen to lovely people and it can be distracting in an otherwise beautiful family portrait. So before every session, I provide clients with these tried-and-true tips on wardrobe, hair, and makeup.


**Think coordinating, not matching.
**Any way that your family can complement each other — in style or color — can really pull a portrait together.

coordinating clothes photoshoot

**Keep it simple.
**Solid colors photograph well. Avoid anything with big logos, graphics, or busy patterns.

**Avoid bulk.
**Avoid clothes that are too bulky. Depending on the season, layers are ok, but be mindful of too many layers.

**Be comfortable.
**Show off your children’s fun style with layered clothing that’s fitted and comfortable. If kids feel comfortable, they’re more likely to give natural expressions full of personality. (Same goes for adults, for that matter.)

comfortable clothes photoshoot

**Don’t be afraid to accessorize.
**Children’s accessories, such as colorful scarves or hats, can be a great way to add more personality.

**Prepare in advance.
**It helps if clothes are clean, pressed, and on hangers a few days before the shoot so you don’t have to worry about it the day of the session.

And don’t forget about shoes! They’re an important part of your wardrobe — and there’s nothing worse than a beautiful outfit that’s ruined by scruffy shoes or tattered flip flops.

Makeup & Hair

Keep it natural.
For women, hair should be styled naturally. In other words, if you don’t usually wear your hair in a formal updo, skip it. The same principle applies to makeup: if you’re thinking about trying out that trendy fluorescent orange eye shadow you saw in a magazine, save it for another time. Instead, choose natural makeup that makes you feel beautiful, then add a light layer of powder to reduce shine, just before the session.

keep it natural photoshoot

**Keep it clean.
**A clean-shaven look for men is best (but if you’ve always rocked a beard, I’m not telling you to shave it off!). Haircuts for boys and men should take place about a week or so before the session.

Even after sharing all these tips, I always remind clients that there’s really no such thing as a “wrong” wardrobe choice — that is, if they absolutely love what they’re wearing. That’s because by the end of each pre-session consultation, we’ve discussed the most important question, which is this: what do they want to do with these images? Since I specialize in wall art and archival keepsakes, I want my clients to picture how these photos will look in their home for years to come. So, if we’ve discussed how they’ll use the images and I’ve given them my style tips, but they still want to wear matching bright green velour tracksuits (okay, this has never happened but you catch my drift!), then that’s a family who owns their style and can (and should) pull it off.

What’s important to me as a photographer is that the session is an enjoyable experience for the whole family; everyone should be relaxed and have some fun! At the end of the day, there’s no amount of clothing, hair, or makeup that can distract from a truly sweet moment between family…even if they’re all wearing matching jean jackets.