Portrait Photographer Sydney: The ULTIMATE Guide to Choosing the Right Clothing and Accessories for Your Portrait Shoot


If you are having your family portrait session soon, there is no doubt you have started pondering the ever so confusing necessity of what you and your family will wear! So here it is-The ULTIMATE Guide to Choosing the Right Clothing and Accessories for Your Portrait Shoot

Gone are the days of the matching ‘blue jeans and white t-shirt’ look, but how do you know what will look good instead? You’ll be very happy to know that there are actually many more dos than there are dont's, so lets narrow it down to make the process of choosing easy and stress-free!

1. Be Timeless

We have all seen, or even starred in the ghastly photo collection at ‘Awkward Family Photos’. Why do these images make us break into side-splitting laughter? Sometimes, it’s the amazing poses, often it’s the unbelievable hairstyles, but most commonly, it’s the incredibly dated fashion that’s being so confidently modelled, frozen in time for generations to find perplexing and incredulous for ever more. Yet, why is it that when we see photos of Audrey Hepburn, we can’t help but still marvel at her amazing fashion sense and desire the same look, years later, through the ebb and flow of trends? The answer is- timelessness.
A-line dresses, uncluttered fabrics and clean styles are what will make your photos last through the years. Just remember, simple is best. Too much of anything will over balance the image. Keep your look classic and your imagery will remain the same.


2. Consider Your Home Colour Scheme and Decor

You have been staring at that blank wall in your home for far too many mornings as you sip your coffee over breakfast, and thus the reason for FINALLY getting around to booking your family portrait session. So don’t forget this wall and the decor surrounding it, as you consider the colours and the kind of imagery you would like displayed for your portrait wall collection. If you have an open and fresh styled home, you may be looking at having your family portraits taken at the beach with some soft pastel coloured clothing to fit in to your light home. Or if you have a bright feature wall, make sure your family are not dressed in shades that might clash once your imagery is framed. Consider beyond your session by visualising where your images will be displayed!


3. Think About Your Backdrop

If you have already picked out your ideal location for your family photos, consider the colours that will be surrounding you. If your scenery is going to be full of orange autumn leaves, consider a lovely palette that will match this backdrop, making your images well planned and considerate in their balance. If you are unsure of how to create a colour palette from your ideal location, there are some great websites that can help. Simply take a photo of the location in which you will have your session and upload it to Coolors.co. Here you can open you image, and ‘automatically’ create a colour palette from the photo, giving lots of great suggestions that will give you inspiration for your family attire.


5. Coordinate and Compliment

Coordinating your family’s outfits, does not mean that you need to all be matching! In fact, matching outfits is now most definitely a thing of the past. To coordinate, involves considering tones that compliment each other and work well together, without one person standing out, or stealing the focus in the image. A way to do this is by selecting one item of clothing that you know you would definitely like to use for one member of the family. For me, it was a beautiful little Marimekko dress my husband and I had bought my little girl not long after she was born. I knew it was the one we would like to have her photographed in. So, I put the dress on the bed and began to choose clothing for myself and my husband that ‘coordinated’ and ‘complimented’ this dress. A way of doing this is by finding colours within that item of clothing and matching to others, or finding tones that work well with others. Again, if you need help with this, the Coolors website, is a fantastic way to help you pick out these colours. Remember, you want every one to be visually balanced!


4. Wear Textures and Accessorise

Another wonderful way of having your images ‘pop’, especially the black and whites, is to wear amazing textures. Knits, cashmere and other interesting fabrics, can add so much more to your imagery, especially if they are layered. Large woolen scarves and furry jackets in winter just add that touch of je ne sais quoi. And don’t forget to accessorise with matching earrings, headbands, necklaces and hats, all of which make your look go from ‘eh’ to ‘wow’!


6. Keep Away From Large Patterns and Logos

This is my only ‘DON’T’ and it’s a big one! I know, I know your children love Elsa and Pepper Pig, but your family portraits are really not the time to wear their branded-strewn clothing. The main reason is that having images and logos on t-shirts, hats, pants, and shoes, immediately steals the focus in the photo. It’s hard to look at your beautiful little one’s face, when you are competing with the bright colours of The Wiggles. Also, such brands can really date your photos and in a couple of years time, your kids may be a little embarrassed to be reminded daily, when they look up on the wall, that they once had a crazy obsession with a singing sponge. Please avoid this one! It’s a definite NO!


7. Dress Rehearsal!

Ok, so you have chosen your outfits, you have had them washed and pressed and they are all hung up ready to go for the morning of your photo shoot. As you put your child’s head through the top of his shirt, you suddenly realise how ridiculously tight it is! Surely he hasn’t grown THAT much in one month! That’s impossible! Now you are racing around the house trying to find a shirt that remotely comes near the vicinity of the last colour you had spent so long setting your heart on!
To avoid such a dilemma, make sure you have a ‘dress rehearsal’ within a few days of your shoot. Have all your family try on their outfits, and even have them stand together to ensure that the colours work well as an ensemble. This way there are no nasty surprises on the day of your shoot and you are as organised as a clam.

Finally, don’t forget that you can ALWAYS ask your photographer! I’m always happy for my clients to send me iPhone images of their ideas or for them to have a selection ironed and ready to go for me to choose for them when I arrive.


Having beautiful family photos isn’t just about finding the right professional photographer with a creative eye, it’s about forming imagery that’s balanced and beautiful. This means that no one outfit stands out against another, your chosen colours work perfectly with your backdrop and your images have been carefully created to be displayed for the space in your home for which they were intended. There is ONE other thing that I know you may be thinking…. What about individual personality? Family portraits is not the best time to wear clothing that dramatically symbolises each character, but there is definitely time for this within your session.