SHP Client Area »

Masthead header

What Should We Wear?

Deciding on your session wardrobe can be difficult. I understand … I’ve been on your side of the camera before! I hope some of these tips might help …

Maternity and Newborn Sessions

Definitely keep it simple! For maternity sessions, the Mommy-to-be should wear form fitting clothing in solid colors. Look for close fitting tops which will accentuate your shape. Jeans with a simple, fitted tank are a great choice. Avoid black, because it will not allow me to photograph your curves well … the shadows just get lost in the dark material. Medium tones of blue, cream, gray, or pink are good. Dark pants, including black, or jeans are fine. For the day of our session, make sure to wear your pants below your belly, so you won’t have indentations on your skin from the elastic waist. Dad should keep his clothing simple as well, in complimentary colors. Avoid stark contrasts, such as Mom in a white top and Dad in a black t-shirt.

For your baby’s first portrait session, he or she will be in simply a diaper, wrapped in a blanket (I bring several from which to choose), or naked. If Mom and Dad will be in some of the images, follow the same guidelines as the maternity sessions … simple, solid colors in complimentary shades.


Baby clothes are precious and so fun! Feel free to get creative here. Just a few things to avoid … For younger babies who are not yet sitting up well, avoid big collars on their clothes. The collars tend to just bunch up or stand up around their neck.

Toddlers and Children

There are two ways to go with a child’s portrait … Fun and Contemporary, or Classic and Clean. If your style is more contemporary, feel free to utilize bright colors and fun patterns. For a more classic portrait, solid pastel shades work nicely.


This is where Portrait Wardrobe planning can get challenging but very fun! Many of my clients feel stressed about choosing their portrait clothing for a family session. I myself have spent time at the mall, agonizing over the coordinated outfits for a family portrait, so I understand the anxiety. Again, relax. Keep it simple … as you choose outfits, you should have two objectives in mind. First, Be Yourself! Don’t choose clothing that doesn’t suit your style and personality. If you are jeans and sweater kind of people, go with that! I believe your portraits should reflect who YOU are in every day life, not how you dress once a year for a special occasion.

Second, pick a color palette. Notice that I said a palette, and not one color in general. Having your family dressed head to toe in the exact same color will just look forced and formal. Choosing a group of complimentary shades will give a more pleasing and natural result. Because Wall Portraits are often a part of a family session, consider your home’s overall color palette. Your Wall Portraits will ultimately become part of your decor and so the portrait’s color scheme – your clothing choices – should compliment your home.

Next, consider which colors look best on your family. I find that shades of blue or brown compliment just about every skin tone, and suit most home decors nicely. They also work great in black and white portraits. I strongly recommend avoiding solid white, because it can wash out skin tones and look too harsh in family portraits. Bright white can be beautiful on a child with their sun-kissed, youthful glow. But after the age of 15 or so, our skin starts to lose that glow. Our skin tends to wash out with pure white next to it, and white often flattens out in a photograph, adding the pounds we all want to avoid. 🙂 Off-white is a great alternative. Bright colors like sunny yellow or leafy green can also reflect on light complexion skin giving it an undesirable color cast.

Considering the above, look for individual outfits in your chosen color palette. Each family member will have their own unique look but your portraits will have a coordinated, well-styled feel. Consider wearing layers in your color palette, which will give your wardrobe depth and texture. Add a splash of color with a scarf or vest. Dressing in layers will also let you easily remove a layer or two, changing your look for more variety in your session without a complete wardrobe change on location, all while staying within your chosen color palette.

For instance, for my children’s portraits a while back, I decided on a theme of navy, brown, and cream. These colors worked well with my living room decor, and they suited all of my children’s complexions. I shopped online at first, looking at the common stores like Gap, Old Navy, J. Crew and Lands End. I bookmarked some items I liked and then hit the mall to see what else I could find. My daughter’s outfit had pieces from Old Navy and Gymboree. My boys’ clothes came from Gap, Old Navy, and Children’s Place. It did take some time and planning, but once I had my color palette in mind, building their wardrobe went smoothly. The images below show you the plans I made at first and the final outfits I chose.

For more ideas, I have a board on Pinterest which you are welcome to explore. I add items as I see them, so check back anytime.

As always, let me know if I can help in your planning!