Clothing guide

We’ve created a Pinterest Board with some inspirational images to help you choose your colours and outfits for your family portrait.


What to wear for your Family Portrait

The trend is away from stiffly posed formal portraits and in some ways the choice of clothing is less important than it used to be.
Smart casual is definitely the way to go. Your portrait should reflect how you are as a family, not how you would look if attending someone’s wedding.
Plain is better than patterned.  Logos and wording should be avoided as they can draw attention away from the faces.

For group photographs, everyone’s clothing should blend well but doesn’t necessarily have to be matching. That said, we have made some very successful portraits with everyone in white tops and denims for instance. The important thing is not to have any one person ‘stand out from the crowd’

When selecting your outfits, spread out all the items: shoes, socks – everything! Then stand back take a careful look at the selection. If your eyes are drawn to any one item in particular, you can be certain the same will happen in a photograph.


Avoid stripes, spots and bold patterns. For natural portraits wear the clothes you like best, styles in which you feel comfortable, and not necessarily the newest in your wardrobe. Sleeved tops are generally better than sleeveless because studio lighting can make the upper arms appear paler and heavier than they actually are.


Casual is definitely best. Suits and jackets look incredibly formal on a photograph and will gape or fall awkwardly unless you are sitting bolt-upright!  And unless you are going for the rugged look, shave as late as possible before the sitting to avoid “five o’clock shadow”.

Young Children

Avoid clothes bought to “grow into”. It is better for them to wear an old favourite than something too baggy. Clothes should be simple and loosely fitting without transfers or slogans. Smocking, lace work or broderie anglaise is very suitable for girls whilst plain shirts and tops with jeans or dungarees are ideal for boys. And if you are unsure, bring along an easy change of clothes for them.

Footwear is not always necessary – especially for babies and toddlers who look much better with bare feet.

Hair and Makeup

Unless you have booked a makeover, you will need to prepare for your portrait prior to your sitting. And by arriving at the studio fifteen minutes early you will be able to undertake those last minute finishing touches.

Hairstyles are best kept simple and and preferably off the face. Hair falling down onto the sides of the face will result in distracting shadows from the studio lighting.

A successful portrait depends upon nice even lighting especially on the eyes – the most important aspect of any portrait. Eye makeup should be blended – no sharp demarcation lines between colours. Avoid white above or below the eyes. In a portrait, makeup can often have the opposite effect than in real life. Avoid too much colour above or below the eyes as this will actually draw attention to the make-up and away from the eyes. Foundation can generally be applied a little heavier than normal to cope with the studio lighting. Take care, however to blend it well at the jaw-line so that there is no demarcation between the face and the neck.


If spectacles are very much part of your image, you may wish to wear them for your portrait. However, you’ll want to avoid reflections as retouching costs can add considerably to the cost of your portraits.

Good quality glasses with modern non-reflective lenses can help reduce reflections.  Or you could consider asking your optician if you can borrow a matching set of frames without any lenses. Many of them will do this so long as you leave a refundable deposit.  This is particularly helpful if your lenses are on the strong side as these can distort the outline of your face.   And it should be considered essential if your glasses are tinted in any way.