What to wear for your family photos

October 05, 2018  •  4 Comments

"What should we wear?" That is by far the most frequently asked question I have from clients. It is also the question I ask myself every time I plan my own family's photo session.  I have to tell you, I do not consider myself an expert in the fashion department, but after years of family photography, I have come up with a few tips that might be helpful as you search through your closet looking for the perfect outfits.

Tip 1- Co-ordinating and not matching!

I recommend finding a color palette you find pleasing and that will also co-ordinate with your home. You will be hanging these photos on your walls after all! So think about your personalities and your decor and find a color scheme that works well with these in mind. Do you prefer earth tones, maybe go for browns and creams with an accent of greens, teals or yellows. Are you bold and energetic, pick deep jewel tones like maroon, navy blue, or deep orange. Maybe you love light and airy colors, try khaki, light blue and pale pink. There are so many options. Think back to art class and the color wheel to remember complimentary colors for a bold look or choose clothing of the same color but different hues for a softer feel.  


Tip 2 Keep patterns to a minimum

Now, I do not mean everyone should be in solid colors by any means, but be sure to choose patterns that are not competing with each other.  If mom is in a gingham dress, do not put baby in polka dots.  Too many patterns will distract the eye for the important parts of the image, the connection of the family.  Try to have one or two people in more bold patterns, while the other family members are in more subtle patterns with some textures.


Tip 3- Find something you feel beautiful in

This one is important! If you, the mom are happy, everyone is happy! I am probably the worst shopper in the world. I dread going clothes shopping.  In fact, I  wear shirts with holes most days because I just don't want to go to a store and try on clothes, but I do want to feel beautiful the day I have my photos taken. In turn, if I feel confident, everyone else feels more relaxed! I am not exactly one to wear dresses most days, but I do love wearing dresses in photos, they give a sense of movement  and feel full of energy and grace.  I often will go dress shopping for my own session. Now don't get me wrong, I will also wear jeans in a lot of photos, because they also have a specific feel of a comfortable casual style. Whatever mood I want to portray in my images, I choose an outfit that makes me feel that specific way. I also am careful to pick clothes that I feel hide my "flaws" I am uncomfortable with my upper arms in photos, so I find dresses or tops with a sleeve to hide that area.  If I want to accentuate my waist line, I"ll go for an A-line skirt. It is important that you are comfortable and that you feel like yourself in the clothes you choose. Remember however, that it is also okay to dress up from your normal everyday clothes! This is a special occasion! Let yourself shine!

Tip 4- Keep it Classic

It is classic for a reason after all! I prefer to find clothes that can not be immediately dated. These images should last a lifetime, generations really. You do not want them to look completely dated in the next few years. This does not mean you need to wear clothes that are not modern and stylish, but try to avoid anything that is extremely trendy, think bell bottoms for example. It is fine to add some more trendy accessories, but try to keep the main outfits more classic in style.  It is easier than you think, jeans, khaki pants, dresses, button down shirts, or polos, all of these have been around for fifty years and won't be going anywhere anytime soon. I normally do not have to go buy my husband or sons anything for photos, maybe a v-neck shirt in a particular color, but their bottoms are always in the closet already.

 Tip 5- Be sure you can move freely!

I can not tell you how often someone says "I can not sit in these pants" well, in a photo session you need to be able to stand, sit, move, and play!  If you are feeling self conscious or worried your dress is too short, or your pants may pop open, find a different choice.  A photo session is more than a few posed pretty pictures, it is a representation of your family's lifestyle.  If you are a rambunctious family, your photos should represent that. If you like to quietly stroll along, that is what we will do, but I may throw in a curve ball and ask your husband to twirl you around!

 Tip 6- A few ideas of what NOT to do

 There are a few wardrobe choices that are better left in the closet!

  1. Never wear anything NEON

Neon will leave a terrible color cast, What is that you ask, well it is when the color of something bounces on to something else. In this case a bright neon pink shirt. You can see how the pink bounces up on to the chin. It would also bounce onto anyone standing near by.  

   2. Wear colors and not black 

Now, if you have ever met me, you probably are really questioning this one. I wear black 7 out of 7 days in one way or another, but when it comes to photos, I always go with a softer color. Black washes you out and looks so harsh in a smiling family photo.  It also is typically not the best choice for outdoor images with natural tones as the back drop. Now if you are wanting head shots, I'd say black is perfect, but for cuddling with your babies, pick brighter softer tones.

  3. Try to avoid graphic T-shirts or logos

Your child may love Mickey Mouse or Minecraft, but these images can distract from what is important, the connection between your family. It also adds a cluttered look to the images.  It is great to get snap shots of your kids in their favorite characters, but it is not really what you want attention drawn to on the day of a family photo shoot. The same goes for logos. I know my son loves wearing Nike, but I make sure to have more classic shirts available when I want a lasting image. 

Tip-7  Don't over think it

It can cause a lot of stress finding outfits for your entire family. If this is the case, find one inspiration piece and co-ordinate everyone else to that piece. This year I fell in love with a dress for my daughter.  I based everyone else around the colors in her dress. If you feel like shopping for the entire family, choose stores that offer clothes already co-ordinating for all family members. (some examples are, Old Navy, Gap or Kohl's)  

Well, that sums up my advice for what to wear to your up coming family photo shoot! I hope this advice was helpful. If you have any tips to add to this, I'd love to hear from you!

If you would like to have some new memories captured of your family, please contact me! 








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I adore family photos. It's a bright memory for the whole life. Especially if you do photo-session every year. You may see the whole changes. It's incredible
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It was very interesting for me to read something like this. I like to make photo-sessions with my family and your advices are quite useful. Thanks!
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