What to Wear: 8 Outfit Planning Tips for your Next Family Photo Session

Let’s face it, clothing choices can make or break your family photos.  Pulling it all together can also be a very overwhelming process. Follow these tips when planning what to wear to your next family photo session!

Tip #1: No More Matching

First things first, when planning outfits for your next family photo session don’t wear matching outfits or all the same color! Gone are the days of the whole family dressed in white shirts and denim.  While it is important to coordinate outfits, kids in identical clothing or dressing everyone in the same color is a thing of the past.  Think about it- if you have more than one person in the same color or pattern and they are standing close to each other in the photo they will blend together.  If you want to dress multiple people in the same color, just choose different shades and vary the textures.  However, try not to dress the entire family in shades of just one color.  It is better to mix it up and incorporate another color and/or pattern. Consider different textures as well like a lace dress or skirt, a knit sweater, or a cardigan.

family standing in grass by water at long island family photo session

Tip #2: Patterns First

If you decide to incorporate a pattern, select that clothing item first and pull out a few colors from the pattern to form your palette. 1 to 2 patterns are ideal, sometimes even 3 can work. For example, a stripe pattern and a floral with some overlap in color families would look great. In the family pictured below, the youngest boy has a stripe pattern and his mom went with floral. Everyone else is dressed in shades of blue and neutrals.

family smiling at eachother at long island beach family photo session

Tip #3: On to the Color Planning 

Start by picking a color palette consisting of 3 to 4 colors. Some options to consider: 

  • Neutral with a Pop: Start with a neutral color palette of off-white, grey or taupe and add in 1-2 colors for a pop.  Or just go all neutral for an easy classic look that can’t go wrong.   Example palette- Varying shades of cream and grey with a brighter pop of color like rust orange. 
  • Blue & Blush: This is another favorite color pairing. Example palette- dark blush, a dark and light shade of blue and grey. 
  • Warm & Earthy: Think brown, creams, sage, olive, terra-cotta, taupe, deep navy, maroon. Example palette- Olive green, mustard yellow, brown and cream.
  • Soft & Light: Go for soft, pale colors. This can include lighter shades of blue, green or yellow and muted tones of pink and purple combined with creams and gray tones. This is generally a more appealing palette for spring and summer photos vs. fall. Example palette-  Pale pink, green and blue with off white.
  • Blues & Greens: This is a popular choice.  Example palette- navy blue, sage green, light blue with an off white.    

Other elements to consider: If possible, avoid black or keep it minimal. Black looks too dark in photographs, opt for a darker tone of blue, green, or grey. Also, try to minimize white unless it has a texture like lace or eyelet, otherwise, it can look too bright. It is better to go with off-white or ivory in most cases. 

Tip #4: Keep it Moving

Wear clothing with movement.  Motion adds depth and creates a more dynamic photograph. This one is specific to moms and daughters, but a long maxi dress or skirt photographs beautifully.  If you aren’t comfortable in this type of clothing or it’s just not your style of course that is ok. It is more important to be yourself!

Tip #5: Natural is Best

Keep hair natural! Leave the giant bows and hair accessories at home. This is the time to let your hair down. And if it is windy- don’t worry! Windblown hair can add drama and energy to your photos. 

family hugging on rocks at beach photo session

Tip #6: Don’t forget the feet!

Make sure footwear is comfortable and allows you to move around.  On the beach, plan to remove shoes or wear sandals. As for color, avoid white or brightly colored footwear. Brown shoes are generally the safest bet for sandals or shoes in the summer, and shoes or boots in the fall. Also, don’t forget to plan socks in cooler seasons.  The worst case would be to plan your entire ensemble and at the last minute realize you have no socks in the right color.

brother and sister posing for family photos

Tip #7: Details Matter

Remove digital watches, scrunchies, or hair ties from your wrists, and empty your pockets. Use a diaper cover if your baby or toddler is wearing a dress. Avoid clothing with logos, characters, and any bright neon colors.

Tip #8: Plan Ahead

I recommend deciding what to wear far in advance and laying everything out the night before your family photo session. Also, if you have some picky family members (I certainly do) then make sure they try everything on for fit and comfort well ahead of time and be certain they approve of your selections. The last thing you want is a tantrum when you are trying to get everyone in the car!

I know this is a lot of information but it is better to be over prepare when it comes to outfit planning for your family photo session!

family photo session at pond

Bonus Tip: Recommended Retailers



You can also visit my Pinterest Board for some further outfit inspiration! Also, check out my 5 Tips to Getting Better Family Photos. Contact me to start planning your next family photo session.

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