What Should We Wear?! Holly Rose Photography: Family and Lifestyle Portrait Photographer, Doncaster,

Working out what to wear for a photoshoot can be stressful! Here are a few tips to help you out. This post is mostly aimed at family sessions, but the tips apply to kids and couples just as well.


Co-ordinate, but don’t go for ‘matchy-matchy’

It’s great to think about what everyone in the shoot will be wearing – but don’t overdo it. If everyone wears exactly the same (e.g. everyone in jeans and white t-shirts) you could end up with dull photos indeed! Plus – is that look really you? Do you ever actually go out as a family wearing exactly the same? The trick is to let every individual keep their own style, but co-ordinate the colour scheme.

‘Super star’ scheme

It can help to start with one person and work from there. So choose who the ‘super star’ of your shoot is going to be – this is often best being Mum (as she may be more likely to wear bolder colours or prints than, say, Dad!) or one of the kids. This person chooses an outfit with a print or pattern. The rest of the family wear more simple outfits with solid colours – taking their colours from the ‘super star’s’ pattern. Check out this blog post by Heidi Hope Photography for a great example of how to build a colour palatte for family outfits from Mum’s dress.

Colour Schemes

Another way to go is to choose 1-3 colours – ones with similar tones that go nicely together. Pick everyone’s outfits from within that colour palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones. OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones. Wedding party photos look so good because they’re all wearing the same colours and the people stand out! If you find it hard to pick out which colours go together, check out our pinterest board for lots of examples of great colour schemes. Please note – not every person has to wear every colour in the scheme – just one or two colours along with neutrals (if needed) is fine.

Image credit: http://www.candidcontrast.com


When picking out colour schemes it can be worth bearing in mind what you want your photos for – are you planning a giant canvas in the living room? If so it might be a good idea to try to co-ordinate your oufits with the colour scheme of the room you want to hang the picture in.

The location of your shoot is also something to consider – the people need to stand out from the background at least a little bit. Going to the park in the summer? Perhaps greens are best avoided. Going to the beach? Don’t wear all sandy colours. Try not to choose outfits that blend so well with the background they make you disappear!

Photo credit: http://www.sanitaryum.com


Jewellery or a scarf or hat can really add a pop of colour to your ensemble and they are great pieces to carry the boldest / brightest colours from your colour scheme. You can also swap and change them to get different looks if that is something you want from your shoot (the same goes for layers!).

Layers and Textures

Layers and textures can really add interest to photos – especially if you’ve chosen a more neutral colour pallete. They look fab in black and white shots too. Think woollies, ribbons, lacy bits, crochet cardies, furry boots – these can all look especially sweet on the little ones. Check out the Paint The Moon blog post for ideas.

Image credit: http://paintthemoon.net

Hair and Make-up

Do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing the clothes you’ve picked out – this means no fancy up dos with jeans! You want to look like you in your pictures. It doesn’t make sense to go to the hairdressers and get fancy up do, then show up in jeans and a t-shirt to bake cakes with the kids – you wouldn’t normally do that (or maybe you would, in which case go for it!).

Same goes for make-up. You may have heard somewhere that you need to wear more make-up than usual for the camera. Don’t do it! – You won’t look like you and you’ll hate the photos as a result. Wear make-up how you usually would for the outfit you’ve picked – if you usually don’t wear any make-up – don’t feel you have to for your session or keep it very minimal. If bold eyeliner and bright red lipstick are you usual style – go for it!


Image credit: http://paintthemoon.net

Shoes matter (and I’m not just saying that as a female!) What you wear on your feet can make or break a photo and can be great for adding pops of colour (at least in the ladies and children’s footwear). Relaxing at home? Sometimes bare feet are best – especially with the little ones. If you hate your bare feet go for plain, neutral coloured socks or socks that match your overall colour scheme. Heading outside? Consider the weather and what you would usually put on your feet for the location you’re heading to – walking in the park with the dog in the summer? Ballet pumps for the girls and converse for the boys. Going for an autumnal walk in the woods? Wellies all the way – theres muddy puddles to be jumped in! Try to co-ordinate colours with your overall colour scheme where possible.


It sometimes helps to have a few props handy to help show the personalities of your family members or to help you all relax and feel a bit more natural infront of the camera – a ‘prop’ could be anything from your kid’s favourite bedtime story, your toddlers ‘must-have-or-i’ll-never-sleep’ cuddly toy or your 10 year old boy’s football. Even a blanket or throw that ties in with your colour scheme can be very versitile and help to add colour. Use your imagination and help us to tell the story of your family – just make sure it is something meaningful.

Feel Comfortable

Whatever you choose to wear, remember that Holly Rose Photography wants to capture the real you. Make sure it’s something you would normally wear in the location your shoot is at (no ball gowns at the park please!) and that you feel comfortable in it – theres nothing worse than trying to get grumpy, itchy kids to relax! You may also want to bear in mind the good old English weather if your shoot is likely to take place outside. Factor in some cosy jumpers or coats and stay warm!

Image credit: http://www.levienphotography.com

Some other tips for feeling more comfortable infront of the camera are:

  • If you're self concious about your upper arms, choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow. When you're bare shouldered your arms take up more skin area than your face and this will draw attention to them. It can also make them look larger than they really are!

  • Consider choosing long trousers for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies so that your legs don't take attention from your faces. You'll also be able to sit and bend without showing too much leg.

  • If you're self concious about your tummy don't try to hide in very loose / baggy clothes - this can sometimes make you look larger. Wear clothes that fit you well and that you are comfy in. The 'layered look' is great for disguising any lumps or bumps you want to keep hidden and can also add extra textures that look great in photos - so try teaming a fitted camisole or t-shirt with a looser shirt or cardigan.

  • Another top tip for hiding those areas you aren't friends with is to choos similar tones for your top and bottom (both dark or both light) so that one doesn't look bigger than the other. A white top with dark trousers will make your top half look bigger. White trousers with a dark top will make your bottom half look bigger

A few things to avoid

  • Big logos/characters/graphics/labels - these can be really distracting and make your pictures look less than wonderful. Having said this there are a few instances where big graphics can look good (for example if your 5-year-old is picked out as the 'superstar' of the shoot and wears a t-shirt with a big superman logo on it) - but if this is the case it's best to keep it to just one person.

  • If you're planning a new 'do, make your appointment at least 2 weeks before your sesssion - fresh haircuts rarely look their best the same or next day. Ladies need time to practice working it, men need to grow it out just a little. Allow some time to live with your new look before the session.

If in doubt…

Just be yourself and let your personality shine through. If you really aren’t sure about what to wear then drop us a line and we’ll be happy to help you out!