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Family portraits that stand the test of time

Your family portraits that are hanging on your walls are looking old and outdated. That ruffled dress you were wearing. . . what were you thinking? You would not be seen in public wearing it this year. The character on your daughters’ bag is so first grade, she would never admit to watching that show now that she is in second grade. It’s time for new family pictures and the old one is only a year old. How do you plan ahead to have portraits taken that can be enjoyed for generations?

Here are some tips for creating timeless family portraits that can be enjoyed any time of year for years to come.

Classic Apparel

The clothes you choose have a lot to do with how quickly the portraits go out of date. When picking out what your family should wear, consider classic items that have stood the test of time. Here are some examples that looked good last year, look good today, and will still look good five years from now.

Colors - go neutral. Brown, tan, white, or black. Neutral colors work any year, any season, and in any room. You can also go with primary or secondary colors, shades of blue or green will look good, but stay away for trendy colors like fluorescents and pastels as they both go in and out of style quickly.

Patterns – some patterns are fine. Small polka dots, subdued florals and pinstripes look good year after year.

Mom – Stick with the classic styles. If you are going more formal, consider neutral colored slacks or knee-length pencil skirt with a button-down blouse, otherwise a black dress always looks good. If you are going for a more casual look, dark jeans with a boot or straight cut, or capris if it is warmer. A cardigan sweater or fitted short-sleeved t-shirt is always in for on top.

Dad – Dark denim jeans or khakis with a colored t-shirt or polo looks good, or if you are going formal a black, gray, or blue suit always makes a man look sharp.

The kids – Keep it simple. Keep it comfortable. If the kids don’t feel good, they won’t be happy. Avoid trendy kids’ clothes and avoid clothes with characters or other prints on them. Make sure they fit, we often buy clothes for our kids that are a little loose so they fit for more then two days, but when it comes to pictures make sure to have clothes that fit correctly so they don’t look sloppy or baggy.


The location can set the tone of the enter portrait. Indoor, outdoor, in studio, at home. Each has its own look and feel, each has its own advantages and disadvantages. How does it date the photo?

Outdoor nature locations are always timeless, nature never changes style or looks out of date. The seasons change, but unless the season is matched with a holiday, a summer, spring, winter, or fall pictures can look good year-round, each telling a story about the family. Outdoor portraits become dated when the season is tied with a holiday. For example a winter Christmas portrait with the entire family wearing Santa hats, a fall Halloween picture in costumes, or summer 4th of July with red, white and blue shirts and holding sparklers don’t look so great hanging on the wall months after the holiday has passed.

Indoor portraits depend on the location. A portrait taken in a historic building or building with a modern minimalistic architecture will not become dated, but a picture taken in a home with a clear in-style décor will be dated as soon as the style changes. Going through old snapshots you quickly see70’s, 80’s 90’s and 2000’s décor styles and realize how 90’s your home was then, glad that style is out!

Holidays family portraits

Holidays are a popular time for family portraits. Christmas cards and holiday mini-sessions make them a perfect time to have that annual family portrait taken. As you consider the holiday portraits, also think about their use year-round. Come February, a picture of the family in front of a Christmas tree will look like you missed taking down some of the Christmas decorations. A portrait of the family out in the fresh snow wearing classic winterwear (without the Santa hats) can make your family look like you are enjoying the season on a holiday card and still look good year-round on the wall.

So, take all of these factors into consideration as you plan your next family portrait session. Remember, with the right outfits and the right location, family portraits will look beautiful and timeless hanging on your walls for years.

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