One of the things that I find  my clients stress about the most is what to wear for their family photos.  Trust me…  I get it.  There are so many choices and directions.  In an attempt to simplify it I am offering my top 8 tips for what to wear for family photos…

8 Tips for What to Wear for Family Photos

1. Start Early  –  You can start thinking about what you all will wear before you even book your session.  It helps financially if you aren’t rushing to the mall 2 days before your session buying new outfits for everyone in the family.  Additionally it cuts down on the stress and lets you add things gradually.  Personally, I have been known to pick a color scheme during the summer, consider that color scheme when back to school shopping and slowly add pieces to it before our fall family portraits.

what to wear for family photos

Our family portraits by Jennifer Weems

2.  Think about Location

There are actually 2 locations that you need to consider when figuring out what you are going to wear for family photos.  The first is the location where you are taking the pictures.  You don’t want to clash with your background.  Are you going to get some great pictures in a sleek urban setting?  Denim and plaid might not be what you want to wear.  The other location to consider is where you are wanting to display you images in you home.  If you are hoping to turn this portrait into a great art piece in your living room, you need to make sure that your outfit choices don’t clash with the decor.



3. Coordinating is DIFFERENT from Matching

Please…  please… please… don’t dress in matching outfits.  That doesn’t mean that everyone should dress completely unlike one another.  You should have a common color scheme with no more than 3 colors + 1 or 2 neutrals (black, white, gray, denim, beige).  An easy way to execute this is to have the youngest daughter wear a fun, colorful print and select the color scheme from that.  It is shockingly similar to decorating a room.  What ever your color scheme is, the key is to cross pollinate the colors.  If Sally is wearing a turquoise dress, then mom might want to wear a turquoise necklace and Johnny is wearing a plaid shirt that has a lot of turquoise in it.

What to wear for family photos

4. Texture and Layers

Layering clothes not only adds interest but adds opportunity to cross pollinate colors.  Think of undershirts for a pop of color for your guys. Think of adding vests, jackets, scarves, tights or leggings.  Although you might want to limit patterns, mixing different textures is a fabulous way to add interest without adding busyness.  Textures are also a way to bring in each child’s personality.

5.  Contrast Draws Attention

The human eye is naturally drawing to the object of the most contrast in a photo.  If you family is all wearing grays and blacks and you are wearing red, or even white, you are going to be what stands out in the image.  For this reason, you might want to save the bright colors for the kids.

6.  Accessories

Plan you wardrobe completely.  That means planning your accessories and shoes.  Great fashion jewelry that ties in your color scheme make an image look more polished.  Remember hair accessories for little girls and even consider hats.  Also, don’t forget to plan shoes.  Although most the photos won’t show your feet, you don’t want to limit your photographer.

7.  Dress to match personalities

Although a beautiful art worthy image is usually the goal of your photo session, meaningful portraits really reveal personalities.  I promise you the next 10 years will go by before you know it and to have a family portrait that gives you a glimpse of the crazy kooky kids that they are at this very moment will be such a treasure to you.   If you son has to wear cowboy boots everywhere he goes, incorporate that into your session.

What to wear for family photos

8.  Lay it all out

Lay out everyones clothes.  If possible lay it out (or hang it up) where you can keep it there for a couple of days and add and switch things.  Look at everything together.  Do you have too much of one color?  Do you only have color on the top?  Does Dad need a little pop of color?  Laying it all out is the best way to get a feel of how it is all going to look.  This is the point where I tell my clients to text me a picture.  I then, in return, give my opinion and any advice of changes that should be made.


Hopefully now you aren’t as overwhelmed in picking what to wear for family photos.

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