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How YOU can have some control in creating a great Family Portrait

Where can I control how to create a great family Portrait?

A great family photo is comprised of many elements. Lighting, location, composition, post production, etc. are only some examples to help achieve a great family photograph. And while it might feel like the majority of these things are out of your control, there is one thing in particular that can make an "ok" photo become a GREAT photo and guess what? YOU have control over this. What is it you ask?

Clothing. Attire. Outfits. Those lovely garments that lay carefully and lovingly over your body are items that you can select to help make a great photo.

In this article I will highlight some specific areas to focus on when selecting your outfits of choice.

What is a great Family Portrait?

First though, let's talk about what a GREAT family photo is. In my mind a great photo is classic, simple, and timeless. A photo that can stand the test of time is a photo that will hang on your walls for decades, it will impress your friends, family, and neighbors, it will bring a smile to your face every time you look at it. By choosing the right attire you are helping your photographer create and capture a photo that will remain a fixture in your house for the many years to come.

While I adore young children in the hip current styles, I think a family portrait is something that you want to have focus on the love between you as a family vs the clothing you are wearing. There is plenty of time for us to get into what styles your youngins can wear during their children's sessions, here we will focus on the family unit.

How can I ensure I am choosing the right articles of clothing for my Family Portraits?

Below are some important factors to keep in mind when choosing the right outfits:


Are your photos going to be taken in the forest? In an urban setting? On the beach? Depending on your answer you're going to want to think carefully about your color and fabric choices. Light pastels on the beach will absolutely be eye pleasing as much as jewel tones in the forest.


Picking a complimentary color palate is one of the most important things to consider. Keep it simple (there's that word again). Choose three colors or three tones of one color and stick with it throughout each outfit. One way to help you choose your colors is to find your "Hero Piece" as Leah Robinson of Leah Robinson Photography likes to call it. Essentially, you find one piece that is your strong piece (typically a dress or sweater, perhaps with a pattern) and coordinate from there. Sticking to three colors helps it not feel too matchy matchy but also brings a cohesive feel to the photo.


This might go without saying but you want to take the seasons into consideration as well. Although I do think a pretty dainty dress looks amazing in a white snow filled backdrop, it doesn't really make sense nor does it bode well with our delicate human bodies. That said, I'm a big fan of neutrals in the winter. In the Autumn (in New England) nature's color palate is going to be warm and rich, wearing a pastel purple dress with a red and orange background is going to be an eyesore. Instead if you want to go with a purple, a jewel tone is more sufficient. Layers in the Fall can be absolutely beautiful while delicate details in the fringe of a dress or cuff of a shirt can be amazing in the Spring.

Textures & Patterns

It's ok to use patterns but don't overdo it. Put one person in a pattern and coordinate around them. Sometimes I am even ok with two people wearing a pattern. Polkadots and Stripes can look classic if you have the patterns at opposite ends of the photo, but do you want 10 photos with two people standing in the same spot? Textures can be a big win. Delicate details and patterns can really accentuate a timeless feel.

At the end of the day you want something that makes sense. It needs to all come together to create that cohesive, timeless, and classic look.

YOU can do this! You can be a big reason this ends up being a great Family Portrait!

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Ellory Grace Photography
Newburyport MA
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