What to Wear on Your Family Photoshoot

You finally have your end-of-the-year family photo session booked. Nice work!

But now comes the hard part...what will everyone wear?

Coordinating outfits for your family can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are the top tips to keep in mind as you plan for your shoot.

 

#1: No Matching Outfits

The days of blue jeans and white shirts are gone. Instead of trying to match outfits, most photographers suggest you think about one or two complementary colors and choose a color scheme instead. It should be based on the season and also the setting of your photos.

For example, blues and corals on the beach, or shades of burgundy paired with neutrals in the fall. If you need some inspiration on a color palette, Pinterest was born for this. Also check out Design-Seeds.com or ask your photographer for advice.

Once you choose the color scheme, mix and match the colors so that everyone’s outfit flows and coordinates. Everyone should not have on all blue bottoms and all green tops, for example. Think about balance and keep it to 2-3 colors total. Most people gravitate to jeans or pants, so add a dress or skirt for someone if you can to mix it up.

Here the red lace-textured dress really pops. But is not overpowering because of her black jacket. The black pullovers on the men look a bit flat in comparison, though. |  Photo credit: http://www.threeirishgirlsphotography.com

Here the red lace-textured dress really pops. But is not overpowering because of her black jacket. The black pullovers on the men look a bit flat in comparison, though. |  Photo credit: http://www.threeirishgirlsphotography.com

 

#2: Choose Ivory over white

Try to avoid solid white or black as those colors can look flat in photos. If your heart is set on white, try something with texture (lace, linen, or knits) to add visual detail, or consider ivory instead - it shows more detail and looks warmer in photos. 

Note the warm tone and detail on Mom's ivory sweater. | Photo credit: http://www.jessicalkphotography.com/

Note the warm tone and detail on Mom's ivory sweater. | Photo credit: http://www.jessicalkphotography.com/

#3: Pay Attention to Store Displays

Going shopping? Often times, stores will group the same colored clothing in one section or display complementary outfits on mannequins. Take note of the displays as this can make your search a lot easier.

 

#4: Use Patterns Sparingly

Patterns can be very distracting in your final image. However spots, stripes, and plaids can go nicely with block colors if the patterns are subtle and have the same tone. For example, not everybody should wear a checkered shirt, but if Dad is the only one wearing it, it can make the photo more visually interesting.

Notice that Dad’s plaid shirt doesn’t overpower, it is subtle. This theme color is maroon with neutral grays, blacks, and denim, and pairs nicely against the natural scenery.  |   Photo credit: http://shawnabensonblog.com

Notice that Dad’s plaid shirt doesn’t overpower, it is subtle. This theme color is maroon with neutral grays, blacks, and denim, and pairs nicely against the natural scenery.  |   Photo credit: http://shawnabensonblog.com

#5: No Text or Characters

Avoid shirts with any type of text, branding, logos, or characters as it really detracts from the focal point - everybody’s lovely face!

In addition, while we love that your daughter wants to wear her Minnie Mouse shirt every day, Minnie Mouse is not part of the family and therefore should probably not make the cut this time.

 

#6: Yes to Layers & Accessories

Think tights, cardigans, blazers, jewelry, and/or scarves. Accessories can take an average outfit and make it feel more complete. These are more for the grown-ups than for little ones, though. Babies and toddlers don’t need much in this category as it can overwhelm their small frames in the pictures. Plus extra accessories may cause distraction for young children.

Another nice thing about layers is they can be added and removed during the session giving variety to the photos you receive at the end, without having to do an entire wardrobe change. Think - half the photos with the jean jacket, half without.

This family has nailed the layers concept. Mom & daughters all have multiple layers and textures on, but because they are all in the same neutral color theme, it doesn’t seem like too much. It’s also fun that they are posing on their front porch.   |   Photo Credit: shannamichellephotography

This family has nailed the layers concept. Mom & daughters all have multiple layers and textures on, but because they are all in the same neutral color theme, it doesn’t seem like too much. It’s also fun that they are posing on their front porch.   |   Photo Credit: shannamichellephotography

#7: Keep the Location (and Weather) in Mind

Make sure to separate yourself from the background. Contrasting and complementary colors are your friend.

If you plan to be in front of a grove of evergreen trees… maybe avoid that dark green and brown color palette. We want to see you in your photos! On the flip side, if you are posing in front of fall colored trees, skip the bright summer colors or pale palettes, as the end result won’t mesh.

In this shoot, there could have been more contrast between the snowy background and the daughter’s and father’s outfit choices, as they blend in with the scenery.  |   Photo credit: http://www.purelylily.com

In this shoot, there could have been more contrast between the snowy background and the daughter’s and father’s outfit choices, as they blend in with the scenery.  |   Photo credit: http://www.purelylily.com

And... don’t forget about mother nature. If you are doing a November photoshoot in Minnesota, there is an equal chance it could be 12 degrees and snowing or 58 degrees and beautiful. If your geographic region has shifting weather patterns, plan ahead. Maybe one outfit is a long-sleeve tee, necklace and jeans and the other option adds a vest and scarf to that look.

Awesome that it is snowing during this shoot! This group could have used a bit more variety in the color palette though - maybe a yellow, orange, or red to contrast the white and brown background. Warm tones like reds and pinks look great in the snow.  |   Photo credit: http://portergraph.com

Awesome that it is snowing during this shoot! This group could have used a bit more variety in the color palette though - maybe a yellow, orange, or red to contrast the white and brown background. Warm tones like reds and pinks look great in the snow.  |   Photo credit: http://portergraph.com

#8: Shoes Matter

Photos are taken from many different angles. Yours don’t need to be the best or brand new, but make sure they are clean and in good appearance. You don’t want your favorite image to be ruined by the ratty tennis shoes your son decided to grab at the last minute.

 

#9: Wear What You Feel Good In

To all the moms reading this and thinking about coordinating your family's outfits before your own, stop right there. If your thought process is to pick out everybody else’s outfit first and then buy a new one for you that “fits in” with the rest, you might not feel comfortable in the outfit you had to buy to go with the theme you created. And in the end, you won’t love your photos as much because you weren’t being you. Pick out your own outfit first, ladies.

This family has stayed pretty safe with a blue and gray color palette, and added in a few stripes and one texture. They look relaxed and comfortable, all while looking dressy enough for family photos - letting their natural smiles shine through.  |  Photo credit: shawnabensonblog.com

This family has stayed pretty safe with a blue and gray color palette, and added in a few stripes and one texture. They look relaxed and comfortable, all while looking dressy enough for family photos - letting their natural smiles shine through.  |  Photo credit: shawnabensonblog.com

#10: Don’t Fake It

Another mistake to avoid is buying an “out of the box” outfit based on inspiration you found online. Maybe that’s riding boots, lots of layers, a checkered shirt, or even a chunky necklace. But in your normal everyday life you would never wear that? Steer clear. You want these photos to show the real you, not the Pinterest-inspired you.

 

And Remember...

The whole point of these photos is to showcase and capture who you are as a family. Your chosen clothing, setting, and style should reflect that. Not beach people? Then don’t take your photos on the beach. It will feel forced. Instead go to your favorite park, the local downtown, or even your own backyard. Remember that your choices should allow everyone to feel relaxed and comfortable so your family’s personality can shine through in the end result.

If you feel most comfortable in your front yard, look no further for your perfect family photo setting. And don’t forget to be yourself!   |   Photo credit: libertypearlphotography.com

If you feel most comfortable in your front yard, look no further for your perfect family photo setting. And don’t forget to be yourself!   |   Photo credit: libertypearlphotography.com