Whether you’re just interested in one good Christmas card photo, or want a full album of playful, snuggly family images, deciding on what to wear for your family photos can be a big task. I am going to walk you through the exact steps that I follow when choosing outfits for my own family’s photos so that you can feel confident in making selections that will look beautiful and represent your own family’s unique style.
A few favorites from my family’s session in 2022 by Linsley Schneider Photography
Before I start making recommendations about wardrobe to clients, or before I start making selections for my own family’s outfits I always consider the following things:
You want to insure that your clothing makes sense in the context of the location and weather, so dress accordingly! For outdoor sessions in the summer, make sure that clothing is lightweight and breathable. For cold weather, try to incorporate layers so that everyone stays warm. You can read about some of my favorite Raleigh locations for photo sessions on my blog!
If you want to frame your photos to hang in your living space, make sure that your clothing colors will coordinate with your home’s décor. I personally always lean towards greens and blues in my clothing choices and in my home, so those will always be safe colors to use in selecting outfits for my family. I’ve worn some combination of blue or green in every single one of our photo sessions and I’m completely okay with that!
It’s generally best to start with one member of the family, and base the rest of the outfits off of that. Very often, this will mean starting with Mom(s). If you’re a two dad family or any other combination, I’d start with any clothing item that has a print, and use that for your color palette/style inspiration.
For my family’s most recent photos, I had been eyeing a dress from Nothing Fits But for quite a while, and decided that this would be perfect for our late summer session. I knew that the location would still be very green in September, and likely hot – so I loved the light, breezy feel of this dress. The neutral palette gave me flexibility with choosing outfits for the rest of the family, and I knew it would pop & look great against the green grass.
(Are these dresses sort of made for maternity? Yes. Does that matter? Nope!)
Maxi dresses are always my go-to recommendation for women in photos. For me, a dress always feels a little more special than what I wear every day, but still super comfortable. Longer dresses generally work better than short dresses so that we can do photos sitting oy laying down without worrying about showing too much skin. I always look for garments that are comfortable, breezy, and flattering.
Once you have the first outfit selected, you can use that to nail down your color palette. If this part doesn’t come easily for you, Pinterest is a GREAT resource. There are tons of family outfit color guides that can give you inspiration and I have pinned a lot of great options for you. I usually like to include 1-2 colors in our clothing choices, and then fill the rest in with neutrals.
Our color palette looked like this:
Sometimes I have a color palette in mind before I select items for the rest of my family, and sometimes I will shop around first before nailing it down. I like to go in my boys’ closets and pull out options so I can figure out what I have that already fits (usually basics like khaki pants or shorts for my boys) and what I will need to buy. With three boys to dress I generally will have one of them in a white or cream top to keep it simple. My current favorite white boys’ shirts are the mandarin color linen shirts or short sleeved button ups shown here from H&M. You’ll want to have a mix of solids, patterns, and textures, so keep that in mind while shopping.
(For more tips about dressing your baby for photos, you can read my blog post here: Choosing Outfits for Your Baby’s Photo Session)
**Special note for babies or girls wearing dresses: please make sure to put either coordinating bloomers or shorts underneath their dress!
For dads, I like to do khaki pants and a simple henley, sweater, or a button up. I know that some dads prefer jeans, which is fine! If you’re going for a lighter and brigher aesthetic though, I’d go for a lighter wash jean or solid jean in tan, light blue, or light gray.
You’ll want to see how all of the items look together, so usually I’ll lay everything out on my bed and see what looks great or out of place, etc. Once I laid out all of the clothing options for all of the boys, I ended up with this:
Some things to notice are that none of the shirts or bottoms were the same, but they all fell within my color scheme or neutral (the clothing items shown here aren’t exactly what they wore but are pretty close!). I had a variety of solid colors, some prints/textured pieces, a fair amount of neutrals, and items that were seasonally appropriate and comfortable.
In the past, I have had sessions where I forgot to think about shoes and realized the day-of that all I had were my son’s brightly colored sneakers. Whoops! I always think that leather/neutrals are best for shoes for the whole family, here are some ideas:
Got this far? Awesome, you’ve done it! Now, a few days before your session (or earlier!) make sure everything fits, is clean and wrinkle-free, and ready to go. Having everything prepared in advance means less stress the day-of and a more fun, relaxed session! Now you can sit back and play with your kiddos while I capture precious memories of all of you together.
If you need some help with any of these selections or just want my input, please do not hesitate to let me know! I love helping style families for their photo sessions with me.
by Valerie Worth of Worth Capturing Photography in Raleigh, North Carolina