October 31, 2014

What to Wear for Family Photos


This is the time of year when I shoot the most family photos. The holidays are approaching, another year has flown by, and everyone wants an updated family portrait to share on Facebook, frame in their homes, and put on holiday cards.

I love shooting family photos, and I’m lucky enough to have worked with many of the same families for years. It’s so fun to watch how they change and grow!

One of the challenges of shooting family photos, however, is helping clients with styling. I often get emails from panicked moms, asking what the family should wear and how they should coordinate outfits. As much as I want to minimize stress for families, the truth is, they DO need to think about what to wear to their session, and taking a little extra time to plan can make all the difference in the photos.

So, without further ado, here are some basic tips for styling family photos–and some examples of well-styled images that I found on Pinterest.

Some things to do (and NOT to do) when styling a family photo session:

1. DO think about the location. Are you shooting in a grassy field? In the city? At a ballpark? Whatever the case, your clothes should fit the atmosphere of the location.

2. DO make some attempt to coordinate; DO NOT try to be too matchy-matchy. There is a fine balance between making sure that the accessories, colors, and textures of your outfits play off of one another and making it look like all outfits were–quite literally–cut from the same cloth. The first photo in this post–and the two below–illustrate ways to do this well.



3. DO wear color, layers, patterns, and different textures. All of these things add visual interest to the photo. DO NOT, however, wear clothes with logos or name-brands visible.

4. DO NOT wear solid black or dark brown. They just don’t photograph very well.

5. But DO wear neutrals (tan, khaki, creams, navy) as long as you pair them with layers, textures, and fun accessories. See below.



6. DO remember that denim can also be a neutral, and it photographs really well.

7. DO add variety–mix things up! DO NOT have everyone in the same exact color, cut, or texture.


8. DO NOT wear anything that reads as work wear. This is mostly for my guys: please do not wear khaki slacks and loafers. If you’d wear it in the office, you probably shouldn’t wear it to the photoshoot.

9. DO let the kids’ personalities shine through. It’s okay if someone wants to wear wings or a tutu or carry a skateboard. Those little details will set your photos apart from the others.

10. DO have fun and be comfortable. This is the most important tip of all! If you–or your kids–are so dressed up that they are scared to roll in the leaves, sit on the sidewalk, or dance in the street, then you won’t look comfortable in the photos.

I hope these tips help as you plan for your family photo session. The most important thing is that you just spend a little time thinking about what to wear and how it will photograph. When my clients do that, then it makes my job a lot easier!