Dress for the season and location – Think about the season and the weather. It is hard to look good if you are uncomfortable and either too warm or too cold. Think about the style of the location—is it formal or casual, neutral colors or bold colors?
Go classic – Avoid trendy outfits, the portraits will look better on the wall 10 years form now if the style is timeless and does not date the photo.
Coordinate colors – Family portrait wardrobes do need to match perfectly, but try to coordinate them in style and color. How is this done? Start with one outfit that you like and select the other family members’ outfits based on the colors and style of the first one. For example, if the first outfit you choose has warm colors in it (red, yellow, orange), choose other outfits that also include warm colors.
Avoid all white or all black – All white or all black will lose detail in photos. White reflects all light and black absorbs all light in either extreme they hide folds and shadows in the clothing making it look flat. Also, if everyone is wearing all white or black, they merge together, and it is hard to see each individual person in the photo.
Patterns – Keep patterns to a minimum. This does not mean you need to avoid them completely, but limit them to one or two outfits and if one has a large pattern select a second outfit that has a small pattern.
No characters – Kids like their favorite characters (Dora, Elmo, etc.), but avoid them in in the family portraits because they distract the attention from the child, and ultimately can make the photo look very dated in a few years when the character might not be popular anymore.
Layering – Layering is good, it adds texture and depth to an outfit. It also allows for quick variations without a full wardrobe change. For example, a boy with a coat can have it on, take it off or throw it over his shoulder.
Accessories – Accessories show personality and can be good, but don’t over-do them. Small earrings can add a bit of sparkle, but large earrings can take the attention off your eyes and other facial features. Children often have favorite accessories that are not always to the parent’s taste. For example, if a daughter has a favorite pair of boots but they do not fit with her outfit, let her bring them along as an extra pair and we can take some special shots with her in her favorite boots.
Remember shoes – Shoes show in a lot of the photos, so wear shoes that are clean and go with the outfit. If it is wet or snowy, bring a second pair along.
Look at home décor – Think about where the photo will be hanging in your home and keep this in mind while you choose your family portrait wardrobe. For example, if the room is all neutral colors, bright colors may stand out and look out of place.