Ten Tips: What to Wear on your Family Photo Shoot

I receive lots of questions before photo shoots, but the most frequently asked question is always what to wear. It seems daunting, doesn’t it? To choose clothes for yourself is stressful enough, but now you have to dress the entire family?! And they are supposed to look good, and coordinate, and stay clean… oh, and actually keep the clothes on?  (I feel you. I have boys. They rip those hats and bowties off faster than I can come up with bribes to get them to put them on in the first place). Trust me when I say that EVERYONE stresses out about this. Every. One.

So, I broke it down to 10 simple steps (with examples). Here we go….

1. THINK TEXTURE
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Texture is really important and often overlooked. It’s amazing what a furry blanket, a velvet bow, or a scarf can do for a photo. The velvet texture on the bow in this image catches the light perfectly. And for babies and little ones, it’s a must!

little girl in basket

See more of this family session.

 

Texture is literally everything for newborns and babies. For a little bit of swooning, check out more of sweet Baby Faye in her newborn session.

 

2. CONSIDER YOUR SURROUNDINGS
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Having a session during the summer months in bright greens? Consider pinks or reds that will really pop. Having a beach session (one of my personal favorites)? Consider khakis, whites, and turquoises. Having a fall session? Navy and mustards are always a win!

Always consider the surroundings (or time of year) when choosing color palettes.

 

family of four on bridge

Mustard & Navy are always a great choice for late fall or frosty winter days. Check out this family’s November family session to see more.

 

3. WEAR COLORS THAT MATCH YOUR HOUSE
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Yep, that’s right! And THIS should probably be my number one tip. You’re going to love your family photos so much that you’ll want to hang them all over your house. So consider, ahead of time, where you might be hanging these images.

My house, as you may have guessed, is pretty much covered in blues and grays. For the majority of photos I take of my own kiddos, you’ll find them wearing navy, white, grays or light browns & blues. That’s just my jam. But also, I have a very vibrant red couch in my family room…. so if I’m shooting anything that I may want to hang in there, I make sure my kids don’t wear orange. Nothing is worse than having a photo of your kids that you LOVE, but looks terrible hanging on your colored wall.

boy in blue vest

See more of this little guy in some of his costumed halloween images.

 

4. COORDINATE BUT DON’T MATCH
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No one likes matchy matchy, but EVERYONE loves coordinating. For a big group, pick a general color palette and suggest everyone stays within that range.

For my own family, I find it most helpful to lay everyone’s clothes out together. Start either with a particular outfit you love and then build everyone else around that. Or start with the hardest to dress first, and then build around that. In my house, my husband is the hardest. I pick his outfit first, and then build everyone else in. Don’t forget that you can tie colors in with accessories, scarfs, coats, or even a great pair of boots.

large family photo

See more of this extended family session.

 

See more of these coordinated four and their summer photo session.

 

kids with baby buggie

Check out the sweet seersucker blue & yellow combination in this family’s session.

 

 

best friends

Check out more of these two sweet smiling faces in their best friends photo session.

 

5. BE COMFORTABLE
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You would think that this is an obvious one, but really it’s SO important. The camera will catch whether you feel comfortable or not. And trust me, no one feels all that comfortable in front of a camera. From my experience, it takes adults a good twenty minutes to warm up to the whole experience. So if you’re wearing clothes that you’re really uncomfortable in… well, who needs more to worry about?

boy laughing

 

 

5. ADD A POP
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A great POP always makes the photo. Maybe a great pair of earrings? Maybe boots? Maybe an adorable hat…. think POP and TEXTURE and you’re set! But, only one or two. Too many pops is just too overwhelming! And remember, sometimes pop can mean some beautiful detailing that really stands out. It doesn’t always have to mean bold and bright. Beautiful details can be just as eye catching as bright colors.

little boy in winter hat

See more of this extended family session.

 

For more of this beautifully detailed dress (and an even sweeter little girl), check out little miss Mae and her 2nd birthday photo session.

 

7. KEEP PATTERNS AND PRINTS TO A MINIMUM
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This one seems to confuse people. So there’s technically nothing wrong with a little pattern or print. Like that little bow tie? Adorable! But just try to keep them to a minimum. I really like vests and sweaters over patterns. That helps break them up and prevent them from becoming too overwhelming.

 

 

See how this family mixed prints with a lot of neutrals in their fall family session.

 

 

8. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
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Winter clothes can get bulky, but light coats, hats, and boots are always a good choice if the weather outside is turning colder. First, it just makes sense if the setting is obviously cooler. Second, I shoot generally in the mornings, so in the late fall it can get cold. And cold kids turn crabby fast.

Also, if your session is later in the year, definitely consider bringing warm clothes to slip on during the session while we’re not shooting.

 

9. DON’T FORGET THE SHOES
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I know, I know…. it’s a LOT of work to dress the whole family and now you have to consider shoes too?! Well, my answer to you … at least try. I know it’s hard. And the reality is that many of my images often don’t include shoes. But a lot still do. Sometimes I have kids sit criss cross apple sauce when they get really ansy, and you’ll see the shoes in those images. Also, when I have little ones that stand but don’t yet walk, there will always be one of these images!

A few tips: Try to choose something comfortable. I shoot outdoors in mulch and grass. Those can get soggy fast and stilettos aren’t so fun out there. Casual boots & cute sandals, wider heels and flats generally work well.

little fox

See more of this family’s fall session.

 

Sometimes shoes make the whole outfit!

 

Check out these four in their comfy (and cute!) shoes in their family’s October session.

 

10. WHEN ALL ELSE FAILS, SIMPLE & CLASSIC NEVER DOES!
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Despite all these tips and guidelines, sometimes simple & classic clothes work the best. Sometimes plain works. Sometimes matchy matchy (plain) works too. Classic never goes out of style. Sometimes the clothes are just secondary. And I guarantee in twenty years from now, this image will still work.

 

And this is just another reminder that you can NEVER GO WRONG with timeless & classic!

So if you find yourself still needing some help, shoot me a text or an email a few days prior to your session! Most of my clients text me a photo of their outfits a few days before just for some last minute tips.

 

And lastly, let me just add… if you’re are stressing about what to wear for your family shoot you have done enough. Really. As long as you’ve giving it some thought, you’ll be fine. It’s generally the people that never once thought about it. That’s when you can tell in the images.

Feel ready to schedule your family shoot now?  Let’s chat!

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