Colour Palette & Style Guide

the art of colour and style in photography

So you've got as far as booking your photoshoot but now you have the mind boggling challenging of deciding what you should wear. Or, if you have booked a family photoshoot...what your whole family should wear!

I know exactly how bewildering this can be, I've been there when planning my own family's photoshoot (see happy faces below). So, I've got you!

Below you'll find some hints and tips on planning your outfits, what to consider and what to avoid. Plus some handy colour palette and outfit ideas.

Be Comfortable

I am saying this first because it is by far the most important. For most people, the first reaction is to buy something new and by all means, I'm totally okay with you showing up feeling amazing in new clothes. However, please make sure you feel confident and comfortable in whatever you choose.

If you have a clingy dress that you have to keep pulling down or your partner feels super awkward in a shirt...guess what? It will most certainly show in the photos.

Therefore, comfort first!

Match your outfit to the location

If you are wearing a sparkly floor length dress in the living room, it may look like you are about to go out to a fancy party. Therefore your photographs will look more natural if you are wearing what you usually would at home.

Plan your outfits around what you know about the conditions at the location we’ll be shooting at. You’ll want to be warm enough (or cool enough!), have pain-free feet, and look relatively native to your environment.

For at home sessions, if you are usually in jeans and t shirt with bare feet, then go with it. For a Summer beach session, you may opt for a flowy dress and bare feet or sandals. Or bobble hats and chunky knit scarves if you are having an Autumnal photoshoot in the countryside.

The idea is to authentically capture you wherever you are. Think through your clothing choices logically based on location, vibe, and comfort level.

Consider texture and movement

Pick fabrics that move and flow with you. Ones that add a cosy texture, or get picked up by the wind. Natural fibres like linen, cotton, or wool are amazing.

Avoid stiff-seeming garments with collars as they look a bit too formal and often get tucked in weird spots and need adjusting.

Colour Scheming

A rule of thumb here is to choose to either complement your natural environment or contrast it. A mustard dress in a deep green forest will look amazing, whereas a bright pink, patterned dress doesn’t really fit in with your surroundings.

For families it’s best to keep your color scheme limited to four colors. You can choose one person to wear a feature color and have everyone else’s outfits complement that.

Aim for neutrals, earthy tones, and rich colours. These colors compliment the outdoor environment almost anywhere you go and look great as a printed, framed photograph.

By neutrals, I just mean softer tones. Primary colors are incredibly striking, but can sometimes have the effect of detracting from the main subject (which is you).

So for example, instead of electric blue, go for something closer to sky blue. Instead of bright orange, opt for mustard or apricot colours.

Also, try to avoid plain black and white if you can. These colours tend to absorb the light very differently to neutral colours and make your photographs look significantly darker or brighter.

Be careful with pattern & prints

Avoid large bold patterns as they often dominate the photograph and detract attention from your face.

Usually, subtle smaller patterns work best. A light floral print is great when it complements the location, but less is definitely more with this one.

Matching patterns is a tricky task, and it’s super difficult to do well. The safest way to avoid busy, clashing patterns is to keep things simple and use only solid colors.

However if there’s one item of clothing with a pattern that you really love, just plan on making that one item the only pattern included for the whole group.

Layer up!

Wearing layers is great as not only does combining layers and textures create more visually interesting photographs, but it prepares you for all sorts of weather conditions, too!

Think jackets, cardigans, hats, scarves, tights, and headbands.

However if you have an Autumnal or Winter session, bring your coats with you but plan to not wear them during the photoshoot. Add lots of cosy layers instead such as chunky knits, scarves, hats and gloves. This gives lots of texture and a cosy feel to your photographs.


Always consider the location when choosing footwear for both aesthetic appeal and practicality.

Select the right shoes based on the location, and consider what you’d normally wear if I wasn’t following you around with a camera! Being barefoot makes sense on the beach, and boots are great in the woods.

If you are having a family photoshoot, we usually get stuck in with lots of play, swinging children around and laying/sitting on the floor, so you may feel more comfortable if you leave the heels at home!

I'm here to help!

If you want any more guidance on what to wear or if you want to send over some photos of what you are planning to wear on a WhatsApp message to me ... by all means, I love to help out where I can.

contact details

07746 345242


Photos of my own family were taken during our own family photoshoot by the talented Carley Aplin Photography.