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Is black OK for family photos?

Is black OK for family photos?

Family photos capture precious memories that can be cherished for generations. Choosing the right outfits for a family photo shoot is an important consideration to convey the mood and style you want for the images. Black clothing is a popular choice for family photos, but also comes with some advantages and disadvantages to think about. Here is a closer look at whether black is an OK color choice for family photos.

Quick Answer: Yes, with Some Caveats

The quick answer is yes, black clothing is generally fine for family photos. Black is a classic, timeless color that creates a polished, pulled-together look. It’s also slimming and flattering on most body types. However, there are a few caveats to keep in mind:

– Black can look very harsh and somber if used excessively. Choose black in moderation and balance it out with other colors.

– Black tends to recede in photos, so avoid having everyone wear head-to-toe black or the group may look washed out.

– Stick to high quality black materials that photograph well, like matte fabrics. Shiny or cheap black fabrics can look dull or show distracting highlights in photos.

– Consider pairing black with contrasting accent colors or textures to add visual interest and dimension.

Benefits of Using Black for Family Photos

Here are some of the benefits that make black a good choice for family photos:

Timeless and classic – Black is a timeless neutral that has enduring style and sophistication. Family photos featuring black outfits will have a polished, classic look with lasting appeal.

Slimming and flattering – Black is inherently slimming and can be very flattering. It helps disguise problem areas and slenderizes silhouettes. This makes it a great choice when photographing a variety of body types.

Pairs well with other colors – Black is extremely versatile and pairs beautifully with other colors. Vivid accent colors like red, yellow or blue pop against a black backdrop.

Works for any season or setting – Black outfits work year-round for family photos. They also transition seamlessly from outdoor to indoor settings.

Conveys mood and style – Black outfits convey certain moods and styles in photos, like chic, modern, timeless or sophisticated. Use black strategically to communicate the overall feeling you want.

Keeps focus on faces – Because black clothing recedes, it keeps the visual focus on people’s faces, expressions and connections. This creates more captivating, emotionally engaging photos.

Potential Drawbacks of Using Too Much Black

While using some black clothing in family photos has its advantages, relying too heavily on black can also have some potential drawbacks:

Harsh and somber mood – When overused, an all-black color palette can look very dark, somber and severe. Family photos may end up feeling more like a solemn event than a joyful celebration.

Fades into the background – Black lacks depth and dimension. Wearing all black may cause your family to visibly fade into the background of the photo.

Washes people out – Without contrasting colors, an all-black scheme can sometimes give the impression of a flat, lifeless photo. People may look pale and washed out.

Conveys wrong mood – While black conveys sophistication in moderation, wearing too much black as a family can feel overly formal, stuffy or even sinister.

Dated look – All black outfits were trendy in the 90s and 2000s, so excessive black could give your photos a dated vibe.

Harder for photographer – Photographing an all-black color scheme can be more challenging for the photographer, requiring more attention to lighting, exposure and separation.

Tips for Using Black Effectively

Here are some tips for incorporating black clothing into your family photos successfully:

Use black in moderation – A few black outfits or accents mixed in with other colors works better than all black everything.

Choose black accent pieces – Black jackets, pants, scarves or belts help anchor a look without dominating it.

Pair black with contrasting brights or pastels – Vivid jewel tones, neon colors or soft pastels will make black pop.

Use different black textures and finishes – Matte black, shiny black, lace and leather provide visual depth.

Avoid large black patterns or logos – These compete with faces and can be distracting in photos.

Have some people wear lighter colors – Break up all the black with some white, beige or gray outfits.

Use black below the waist – Black pants, skirts or shoes ground a look without overwhelming it.

Photograph in well-lit conditions – Schedule morning or midday sessions with ample lighting.

Person Outfit Recommendation
Mom Black blazer over light gray top and blue jeans
Dad White collared shirt with black trousers
Son White t-shirt with black jeans
Daughter Bright floral dress with black leggings

As this table shows, mixing up colors and using black in moderation creates a visually pleasing, balanced look for the entire family.

Ideal Settings for Black Outfits

Certain settings inherently pair well with black outfits for family photos:

Urban backgrounds – Black complements modern cityscapes with buildings, pavements and streetscapes.

Indoor studios – Black makes a sophisticated choice against indoor studio backdrops.

At home – A touch of black dresses up family photos at home.

Outdoors at dusk/night – Low light outdoor settings prevent black from looking too harsh.

On the beach – The contrast of black and the white sand or blue water is striking.

Fall settings – Black suits the fall season and pops against autumn backdrops.

Avoid heavily backlit daytime outdoor locations where black could look too shaded and dark. Seek out soft, open shade instead.

Alternative Colors to Black

If you decide an all-black scheme is not the look you want for your family photos, consider these alternative neutral color options:

Gray – Different shades of gray read as timeless, refined neutrals. Go for a heathered charcoal gray for dimension.

Navy – Navy offers a darker blue neutral that feels polished but not as stark as black.

Beige and taupe – Earthy beige and taupe hues complement most skin tones.

White – Crisp white gives a light, ethereal look. Include some black accents to avoid looking washed out.

cream – Warm ivory and cream colors have a softer, more relaxed effect than stark white.

Olive green – Deeper olive green can substitute as an alternative neutral.

Mix in these alternative neutrals with some black pieces for balance. Any outfit colors that suit your family’s style and the mood you want to convey will work beautifully.


Black clothing for family photos is a classic choice that flatters most figures, conveys sophistication and keeps the focus on faces. However, exclusively black outfits can look overly harsh, somber and dated if taken too far. For best results, incorporate black pieces in moderation as part of a varied, balanced color scheme. Use black to ground looks and convey mood, but avoid letting it overwhelm the family or fade them into the background. With some thoughtful styling considerations, black can absolutely be an excellent color option for creating timeless family photos.