What to wear for family photos

When planning a family photoshoot, the question I get the most is “what should we wear?” It can be a lot for a busy parent to coordinate outfits for everyone and oftentimes the wardrobe gets pushed off until the last minute. I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be this way! With a few helpful guidelines it’s easy to narrow our options and bring clarity to your wardrobe.

consider the location

Where we shoot is always something to consider when picking out clothes that are functional and will look cohesive with the setting. For example, when I work at the beach I like to pick out light colors and soft textures that will compliment the wide open scenery. A Flowy linen dress and earthy neutral tones create a casual and luxurious vibe.

Choose a color palette

When selecting outfits for your session, color is the first thing you’ll want to consider. I’m here to tell you that you just can’t go wrong with neutral and earth-y tones. Most of my shoots take place in a natural setting and it’s important to the overall look that your colors don’t clash with the scenery. White, beige, muted greens and subtle pastels all work well no matter what. 

Texture & Pattern

Natural textures found in linen, knitwear, high-quality denim pieces can really elevate an outfit and bring a unique style to each family member. Subtle floral patterns are a great way to break up solid colors, however, It’s best to have just one person wearing a patterned piece to avoid too much visual noise. 


The flow or drape of an outfit can be a great way to highlight our best attributes. A flowy dress can add a lot of movement and beauty to an outdoor session, while a more form fitting option is great for showing off a baby bump in a studio setting. Loose fitting clothing suggests a relaxed, romantic mood while form fitting outfits evoke a chicness and sophistication.

Coordinating Outfits

Okay, you’ve read the basic guidelines and now you’re wondering where to start. Let’s break down the steps I take when I do a wardrobe consultation with a family. 

Parents Outfits First

 I always start with the parents first so we can build an outfit for everyone else based on their look. Moms and Dads are usually the biggest people in the frame and we want to make sure their outfits coordinate before adding outfits for the kiddos. Once we choose one outfit it’s so easy to make choices for everyone else. 

don’t forget the shoes

It’s true that shoes can make an outfit. This can often be overlooked, but shoes are SO important to the overall look of your family photos. In the summer everyone can wear shoes made from natural materials (i.e. leather-like sandals or clogs). In the winter I suggest that everyone wear a comfortable boot that is one color (black or brown) and has minimal details. 

Make it Comfortable

If we are shooting outdoors in the winter, nothing is worse than taking coats on and off in between photos to quickly warm up after freezing and forcing smiles! apply the style principles to your outer layers so you can stay warm throughout the entire session. You can have all of the style in the world but if you or your family isn’t feeling 100% comfortable in their clothes then it will show in the photos. 

A few quick tips

Dress it up

Don’t be afraid to wear something you normally wouldn’t. I encourage you to embrace a flowy dress or wear those fashionable linen pants. Think of pieces and accessories that are a bit more elevated than your everyday wardrobe.

The little details

Adding a subtle gold necklace or sweet, simple set of earrings can add a lot of character to your portraits. Same thing goes for nails! Hands are naturally a major point of focus in family photos and having a clean, manicured set of nails goes a long way! 

How will this look on your walls?

Most families I work with come to me because they want to frame photos from our session on the walls of their home. It may sound silly to “coordinate with the couch” but it really does make a big difference if you’re planning on creating a statement piece for your living room!

A few things to avoid


I love to create a timeless aesthetic within my photography. Logos will instantly date a photograph and they tend to distract from the moment. 

Unnatural Colors

As stated before, always stick with natural colors. Bright jewels tones often fight with each other and are difficult to coordinate cohesively. They can even reflect up into your face and cause discoloration depending on the light conditions.

Intense Plaid and bold patterns

I know many families love wearing matching plaid shirts, and I’ll admit its cute for a christmas card! When you are looking for an elevated family portrait, plaid and large patterns can be distracting and will clash with the environment. subtle plaid in a natural color can look great though! Just use your best judgement.

Get in touch

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