Captured MOMents: What to Wear for Family Portraits

This is the time of year when most of us are starting to get deep in the midst of holiday planning. Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be here and we will be well on our way to celebrating this very festive time of the year.

One of our yearly holiday traditions that I love but the husband does not is taking our family portrait for the annual holiday card. (Does anyone else have a husband who loathes this?) Every year I aim to put together a great card that our family and friends near and far can look to for updates on how we are doing. I especially love getting lots of these cards in the mail from friends and family as well because I can see how everyone has changed in the past year or how their kids have grown.

Image courtesy Amy Cherie Photography

Of course, the first step in putting together holiday cards is taking that annual family portrait. If you haven’t had your portrait taken already, you may you have a session scheduled or have plans to take them on your own with the help of a self timer or family member. Last time I posted, I shared with y’all many different locations across NOLA that are great for family portraits. Now that we we have locations figured out, I wanted to give you some tips for getting ready for your family photo session.

What to Wear for Family Portraits

If I had a dollar for every time I got asked for suggestions on what to wear for family portraits, I would have enough money to buy myself that new Canon L series lens I’ve been eyeing for quite a while now! If you are in the middle of planning your portrait wardrobe, this post has a few tips and hints that can help!

Image Courtesy Mindy Rathe Photography

Be Yourselves!

Time and time again, I see family portraits where everyone in the photograph is dressed to the nines. The kids are in suits and frilly dresses and mom and dad are sometimes wearing a nice dress and suit as well. Unless your kids love getting donned in their Sunday best, they will probably be miserable in their family portraits and it will show. Be yourselves and let your personalities shine! My first tip is wear something you are comfortable in and would wear again and again. The same goes with your kids. We all know we are happiest when we are comfortable and feel like ourselves!

Echoing this sentiment, one of our photographer sponsors, Mindy Rathe Photography, mentions this in her 3 C’s to clients: “Comfy: Wear something that makes you feel confident. For parents, wear something that you can run after kids, bend over, and squat down and not split a skirt. Keep in mind where we are taking pictures. For example, don’t wear high heels if we are taking pics at the park.”

Image courtesy Mindy Rathe Photography

Choose Color and Texture!

One of the things I love most about taking portraits is the ability to capture beautiful vibrant colors that capture the soul of the family. Why take that away by dressing everyone in either black or white or in the same exact outfits? Dress your family in color and embrace it. Color will make your photographs pop and likely show off your family’s personality as well.

Sponsor Amy Cherie Photography advises her clients to have fun with color: “be creative and get fun with your clothing choices. Don’t stick to the basic khaki or white tops with your blue jeans. Spice it up, add some color.”

Image Courtesy Amy Cherie Photography

Coordinate and Complement

Another way to give your portraits depth and express the personalities of the members of your family is by not matching but rather, coordinating. Instead of dressing everyone in the same color polo with khakis and jeans, try coordinating like colors instead. An example is  choosing a neutral color palette but bringing out personality with splashes of color. This way you can keep the overall look neutral with some accents. You can do this with accessories or layers of clothing. Complementary outfits look great in family portraits, especially when there is a great burst of color.

Mindy Rathe Photography also alludes to this in another of her 3 C’s  in reference to color & coordination: “Coordinate: Choose 2-4 colors in the same tone, and pull from those in order for the family to coordinate. It is not necessary for the whole family to go out and purchase matching sweaters or shirts.”

If you are not sure what colors coordinate or what you would like there are tons of resources on the internet that can help. My favorite is Pinterest, where you can easily do a search of “family portraits” and get ideas! Mindy also recommends the Wardrobe Wednesday page on Facebook for visual references as well.

Amy Cherie Photography also is a fan of coordination: “The goal is to have everyone complement each other without looking too “matchy-matchy.” I love textures and layers. A great piece of jewelry or a scarf can really add that pop of color to your photographs. Try wearing blazers, patterns, a fun hat or even a great pair of shoes. Remember, it’s all in the details.”

Image courtesy Mindy Rathe Photography

Consider Season and Location

One of the biggest things to also consider when taking family portraits is season and location. We all know how wacky the weather can be in New Orleans, but we definitely try to dress seasonally when we can and we all want our portraits to make sense. Location is important too. For instance, if you are having your portraits taken at City Park, you may not want the main color of your family’s wardrobe to be green since your background will be very lush and green as well. And, well, you don’t want the family to blend into the background!

Be Careful with Prints

When it comes to family portraits, you may want to avoid lots of bold prints and logos. You don’t want the prints to overtake the subjects and create a distraction. Any t-shirts with logos, words, etc. can take away from your beautiful family and the overall image. If you do choose prints, be mindful at how they competing prints among others in the family. You want your emotion, face, and smile to be the focus of the photos, not your logo shirt!

Mindy also recommends this in her 3 C’s to clients: “Classic: Keep it simple. Most likely it will be your hair-do that dates the photo, rather than the shirt your wearing. Stay away from ULTRA trendy, anything with a logo on it, or bold patterns.”

Image courtesy Amy Cherie Photography

Plan Ahead 

Schedule your session for a time that is good for everyone in your family. When it comes to little ones, a portrait session that doesn’t fall in the middle of nap time or meal time is ideal. Also, give yourself enough time to shop and plan for your session. This way you can figure out how to get the most out of your session and not stress about the small details!

Are you taking family portraits or have you had them taken already? What did your family wear? Do you have any other tips you would like to share?


  1. We always take family beach pictures every year. This year was the year of white shirts with khaki pants. We have also done adults in black and kids in white, as well as white shirts with jeans. Next year might be the seersucker year!!!

  2. hey! for the picture that is under the color and texture description with the family of 3 and the bridge in the background, would you happen to know where that location is? I’ve been searching high and low trying to find this location. i’ve seen in in a couple of photographs lately and I have asbolutely no idea where it’s at but i’m obessesed with it. Please let me know if you do! thanks!


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