Preparing for Your Family Portrait Session: Choosing Wardrobe Colors

November 04, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

Preparing for your family's portrait session involves making many decisions, and choosing the colors of your family's wardrobe is certainly an important detail.  The goal of this blog post is to help you make purposeful preparations that will result in portraits you truly love.  

Color Palettes

Choosing a Color Palette

Use the following considerations to help narrow down your options.

1.  Are there certain colors that you feel compliment your hair, skin and eyes?  These can help you look your best.
2.  Where might these portraits be displayed?  If you intend to hang this portrait in a specific room, then avoid colors that would clash with the color scheme of that room.  Also, consider if this room is formal or casual, as that should be reflected in the wardrobe, as well.
3.  Do you want these portraits to represent this time of year?  
4.  Avoid all black or all white.  The absence of color is not complementary to skin tones.
5.  Choose a color palette that will allow you to coordinate everyone in the portrait.  You don't want to be matchy-matchy, but the colors should blend nicely together.  Avoid having too many patterns that will compete.  
6.  I think it is fun to have a pop of color.  For example, grays and blues become more interesting with a pop of yellow or red.  Consider shades of blue and tan with a pop of coral or pink.  Maybe you would like shades of tan and green with a pop of gold, rust or burgundy.  
That pop can come in the form of a scarf, jewelry, shirt collar, shirt, vest..... whatever.
7.  Try laying the outfits out on the bed next to each other to see if you like the look.  
8.  If you have time, hop on Pinterest and look up "what to wear for a family portrait session" and you will find some ideas.  
9.  Most importantly, just be sure that what you are wearing is a true reflection of who you are.  Don't choose something that you would never normally wear.  The people who love you most want to see the real you.


Should we all match?

My personal preference is to avoid matching too much.  I happen to like variety as it adds interest.  It is much easier to layer individuals in a portrait when the colors complement each other, but are not the same.  Below are some samples of varying degrees of matching.  You can determine what your preference would be.  Once you know what sort of look appeals to you, I am happy to offer advice.



The samples below represent portraits with a monochromatic color scheme.  Many who are not comfortable determining what colors may look good together like to take the safe route and stick with one or two colors for the group.  This is fine if everyone in the group looks good in that color, and this color will allow you to hang this portrait in a room with a similar color scheme.  Varying the shades will allow me to layer the members so that they still show up as individuals.

Monochromatic Color Scheme

A Color Family with a Pop

In the portraits below, the family members are dressed in colors within a color family that blends well.  Notice that an occasional pop of color helps to add interest.  It is taking a monochromatic color scheme and adding an additional color for variety.  Because everyone still has some element that matches someone else, the look maintains its harmony.

A Color Family with a Pop

A Harmonious Color Palette

The colors used in the portraits below include even more variety, yet the colors work well together.  Mixing warm and cool colors provides balance for your eyes and helps to insure that the portrait will coordinate in many settings.  This is a nice way to allow for individuals to wear a color that is complementary to their skin, hair and eye tones, yet still create a pleasing look when next to the other members in the portrait.

Harmonious Color Palette

Mismatching with Intention

The colors in the portraits below may not appear to have been planned, but the results are so pleasing to the eye.  In each portrait, the colors chosen complement the others well.  There may be similar themes such a khaki pants or linen shirts that help to create harmony.  One strategy is allow one print item to help determine the other color choices.  Again, mixing cool and warm colors provides balance for the eye and helps to bring skin tones to a natural radiance.  

Mismatching with Intention

Make it Your Own

Please remember that this is your family and these are your portraits.  You get to decide what kind of wardrobe would be most pleasing to you.  I am simply here to offer guidance as much or as little as you wish.  

You make the memories; I help you cherish them.

Love and Smiles,




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