Willow & Birch, Inc | Clothing Suggestions


Clothing Suggestions for your Session

Family portraits are special, a legacy of whom your family was for future generations to enjoy. Clothing choices are just as important for family sessions, as other sessions.  Here are a few tips to help you prepare for what you are going to wear for your portrait session:

  • Shop early to avoid the stress of doing everything last minute:  Have a change of clothes handy at the shoot if you have little ones.  It can come in handy to have an extra shirt if your baby is in the drooling / spitting up phase.  And have fun with it! These are your family photos.  There are no rules.  The more confident you are in your outfit choices the more it will show in your pictures


  • Keep it Simple:  Keep your clothing simple and coordinating. It must be carefully selected to blend the bodies together.  Avoid loud or busy patterns and large logos.  Solid colors are best.  First, decide whether the basic tone of the clothing will be warm-toned (browns, etc.) or cool-toned (blues/grays/blacks, etc.) Keeping a group in similar colors focuses the attention of the portrait to the faces and individuals that make up the portrait. Dissimilar colors in groups tend to be more distracting. 


  • A word about White:  White is great if we are going to the beach for portraits, but otherwise it’s to be avoided. White tends to wash people out and generally is brighter than you are.  We want you to shine and not just see your white shirts.​​​​​​​


  • A word about Black:
    Black is classic and always in style – looks good in just about every environment – except the beach, where white is your best choice.  Black by itself can be boring, so adding a pop of color with belts, scarves or other accessories is great; or pairing a black jacket over a bright top is also a great choice.


  • NO to PLAID, STRIPES, LARGE PRINTS, & NEON! Plaid, small checks, stripes, and loud large prints & neon are very distracting in an image; we highly recommend you avoid all of these for your portrait.


  • Choose your color pallette:  Matching colors or similar colors and tones make for a great choice. Here are some ideas for your color choices based on your location. 

    • Wooded areas: Greens, Browns, Greys, Black – accented with yellows, reds, blues, and purples

    • Downtown/Urban areas: Grey, Black, Blue – accented with reds and blues


  • Coordinate or Match:  Everyone should have color-coordinated outfits (not a uniform necessarily, but there should be a theme).  For the children, choose outfits that fit well without a lot of “growing room.”


  • On the bottom:  Keep everyone with the same color on the bottom, so if you are going with jeans make sure everyone’s jeans are similar in tone. You DO NOT want a washed, faded jean with a dark jean; keep it the same… change it up on the top.


  • Where to start:  If you are struggling, I suggest you choose a color that you can start with: If you like purple, then you can mix greys and blacks with a variety of shades of purple.  If you like green, then browns and blacks tend to look nice with that.  Think in terms of keeping the family in the same palette of colors. Go to Home Depot or Lowes and look at color swatches of one main color with variations.   Layers are always good and can add a pop of color or bring things together.  


  • Hardest to Easiest:  When shopping for outfits a lot of people will start with the easiest person in their family to shop for. Typically this is the mom or a daughter.  I tend to do the opposite.  I like to shop from hardest to easiest.  In our family I typically start with my husband, move onto my daughters and then to me.  If I start with the person with the least amount of options I tend not to get too overwhelmed and it helps me narrow down a color scheme.


  • Take Comfort Into Consideration:  I tell my clients they should be able to sit, stand, lay down, jump, do the hokey pokey and turn themselves around in whatever they are wearing.  If they are not comfortable in their outfits it will show in their pictures, especially with kids.  Although their outfit may be picture-perfect, if their shoes are uncomfortable or their shirt is itchy your child will not be happy and it will show in the pictures.


  • Let Your Personality Shine:  Unless you are doing some highly-stylized shoot with a specific look, I like for my clients to really show their personalities with their clothes.  I tell them to look like a better version of their everyday selves.  If you don’t normally wear dresses and high heels, don’t wear dresses and high heels.  


  • Let The Kids Dress Themselves:  Don’t really let them dress themselves, but give them options.  Pick out 2 or 3 “mom approved” outfits and let them decide which one they like best. Let them think they are in charge.  They will feel proud that they “picked” out their outfit and it will show


  • Accessories Are Key:  When picking out shoes look for a fun color.  Add headbands.  Find cool socks.  Choose a funky belt. Wear a necklace that complements your outfit.  Don’t forget the little details!


  • Photograph It:  Be sure to take a picture of all of your outfits together before your big photo shoot.  There’s no need to get your whole family all dressed up twice. Just lay it all out on the bed and take a picture in natural light.  Make sure the colors look well together.  If you are questioning any of the pieces feel free to send it to us for advice.  We love when clients send us their outfits beforehand!

In conclusion, clothing choices are important. As your photographer, we want you to see who your child is, and not just what outfit they were wearing. Clothing should compliment your child’s look, not complicate it!

Please contact us for further questions on clothing.

Thank you,

Willow & Birch, Inc.