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What to Wear for your Outdoor Family Portrait Session

Whether I’m shooting your family portrait session, headshots, or even corporate branding, what you wear will have an impact on the the images we create together.

So how do you choose?!

The quickest reply that I give when I’m asked this question, is to choose neutral colours like navy, whites, creams and greys. I do love jeans as denim photographs well, and things to avoid are busy patterns like fine stripes and checks, and big logos. And if you’re being photographed with others, have a think about how your outfit works with them, avoiding colour clashes for example.

However, as someone trying to implement this advice, I know it isn’t that simple!

When we had our family photoshoot earlier this year, I found that my own advice wasn’t quite enough, and me being me I spent the week beforehand going through our collective wardrobes, and even took the boys shopping at 6pm at night when I couldn’t put together the outfits that matched the ideas I had in my head! (I'm not expecting you to do the same by the way!) But part of the reason for having our own family photographed was to understand everything about the experience of being photographed from my Clients' perspective, and to help find solutions to any questions that may arise.

So to save you some time, and to help you work out what to wear for your experience, here are my top tips for choosing outfits for your photoshoot.

The first thing I’d say, is that where possible, you need wear what makes you feel good. You know the feeling when you put on an outfit that you love, it gives you a little bounce to your step, and just makes you feel happy…. that's what we're looking for!

And following on from that, unless you’re going for a particularly styled shoot, you still need to look like you. The best version of you. Having a photoshoot with a professional photographer who cares about making you feel relaxed will allow them capture some beautiful photographs, and seeing those images is a lovely feeling, and actually, as I found myself, a pretty good confidence boost too.

Now, something that I believe is well worth spending a little extra time and effort on is the finishing touches, like hair and make up. Ladies, I’m mainly talking you here (although Gents, it may worth having a quick trim at the Barbers so you look uber sharp!) You know that feeling when you’ve just had your hair done? If you have time, a blow dry just before your photoshoot will make you feel a million dollars. Similarly, if you’re a little unsure about make up, visit a beauty counter a week or so beforehand and ask for recommendations of colours and products that suit you. Brands like Benefit (who handily have a store just down the road from me in Reigate) are brilliant for this, and I’ve found their products actually do what they say and stay put, even on me after 10 hours shooting a summer wedding - which is quite a feat! If you’re going to the effort of having professional photographs taken, these little things can make a difference, both to how you look, but how you feel too. Plus the products last for ages afterwards!

To expand a little more on the clothes themselves, it’s important to think about when and where you are having your shoot. Jeans, chunky jumpers and boots are perfect for outdoor autumn leaf fall sessions, or spring days, not only because you want to make it look like you haven’t planned your outfits, but also you want to stay warm! In a studio or on a lifestyle shoot at home, we have much more flexibility with seasonal variation, and don’t need a summer day to justify a floaty dress. But when I’m outdoors working on a family session, it is very important that my clients aren’t too hot or too cold. Why? Because it impacts on how my subjects are feeling, and not only do I want my clients to feel amazing and have a wonderful time on a shoot with me, it also means that the images that we create together are the absolute best they can be.

Because at the end of the day, in a few years these photographs are going to be a beautiful memory of a time gone by. So it’s worth spending a little time planning these things in advance.

So here are a few images from sessions I’ve captured (and one of what we wore for ours!), to give you some ideas for what you might choose to wear for your photoshoot.

And if you have any ideas, please send them over! I’d love to hear from you.

With much love,

Rachel xx

All images ©Rachel Thornhill except the last image, which is a photograph of our family ©Paul Wilkinson

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