Clothing for small groups

Couples or small groups should choose simple garments within the same tonal ranges. When subjects appear in a mixture of light and dark tones together, there is a visual confusion – as the light colour comes forward, and the dark colour recedes. When this happens, one person becomes dominate and appears heavier than in reality.

Clothing for families

In a family group, proper clothing coordination is critical. When decorating a home, a major concern is to coordinate the colours and tones of the walls, carpets, drapes, and furniture. Similar coordination is necessary when selecting clothing for a group portrait. Choose clothing in the same tonal ranges so that no single member of the family stands out because the clothing is too light or bright as compared to the rest of the group.

Proper clothing selection makes the difference between a portrait that appears to be a group of seemingly unrelated individuals and one in which every member of the family “belongs” to the group.

Tips on preparing for your portraits

Turtle necks or V-necks are flattering provided that neither is exaggerated in style. Avoid very wide or particularly deep V-neck garments or bulky cowl neck sweaters that completely hide the neck.

For close-up portraits, long sleeves are essential for teens and adults, as bare arms call attention to themselves and will overpower the face.

Women being photographed in full length should wear long skirts, pants, or dark stockings in order to keep the eye from being directed toward the legs and away from the face.

If feet are to show in the portrait, assure that shoes and stockings are in keeping with the visual intent of the portrait.

Men should be clean shaven or facial hair should be carefully groomed, with their hair cut about one week before the portrait session. Women should be photographed whenever they are happiest with their hair in relation to the time it is styled.


  • No plaid, strip, dot or flower patterns
  • Don’t mix very dark and very light colours (especially shirts)
  • Don’t try out a new hairstyle the day before the shoot
  • Avoid shorts unless it’s 1000 degrees out (in that case make sure everyone is matching)
  • Don’t have some people dressed casual and some dressed formal – choose one for everyone
  • Avoid pure white as it detracts from the face
  • No tight pants or shirts
  • No extra baggy pants or shirts
  • No sandals


  • Coordination is key
  • Wear loose fitting clothing
  • Apply makeup and fix hair ahead of time
  • Come to the shoot well rested
  • Bring water and sunscreen
  • Everyone should bring an extra shirt that is different from their first so that we can try a different look if the first option is not working well.

Skin tone considerations

Whether working with light or dark complexions the objective always is for the face to dominate the portrait. Accordingly, skin highlights must be the largest, brightest, or most intense areas of the portrait.


  • Everyone should have matching pants (or skirts) – if it’s a casual setting everyone should be in kakis or nice jeans – if it’s formal everyone should be in dark pants.
  • Shirts can vary in style: turtle necks, collar or crew neck or the men and V-necks for the women often look the best.