Last year, Zach (my husband) and I had family photos taken. Our session was scheduled for a Tuesday night after a full day of work, and I thought we had outfits picked out. However, when I got home, I realized that Zach no longer had the shirt I wanted him to wear, and nothing on my side of the closet coordinated with anything on his side of the closet (we’re the definition of opposites attract).
Thirty minutes before the session, I sent Zach shopping to find something, anything that would go with my dress. I finished my hair and makeup, while Zach texted me photos of shirts on hangers from the mall. We were going to take photos in front of our new home, and Zach pulled in just seconds before Vanessa—my talented photographer friend from Pearl Photo & Design—pulled into the driveway.
Needless to say, getting ready for photos was stressful. And, we only had to dress two adults!
Since experiencing firsthand what it’s like to choose family photo outfits, I’ve put a list of 10 tips to help you decide what to wear for family photos so your next session can be a fun memory, not a stressful one.
I’m a 90’s baby, so I definitely remember the days of everyone wearing jeans and white or black shirts for family photos. Luckily, those days are gone!
To add interest to your family photos and to truly make your photos your own, create a color pallet for your session. Choose three to four coordinating colors to create a pallet.
Remember, you don’t all have to wear every single color. Just make sure you have a nice balance of each.
Having trouble choosing colors? Look around your home. By using your decor as color inspiration, you can guarantee that your photos will look great on your wall!
God made you perfectly, and dressing to flatter the body God gave you is never a bad idea! Ladies, check out this excellent article from WhoWhatWear about choosing clothing for your body type. If you’re considering wearing a dress, “The Most Flattering Dress for YOUR Body Type” also gives some excellent tips.
What’s one thing that works for every female body type? Heels! High heels make women appear taller and leaner. I don’t know about you, but I’m all for that!
Men, on the other hand, tend to photograph best in pants (rather than shorts), closed toed shoes, and structured shirts. Personally, I recommend button down shirts, as they can look dressy but become casual by rolling up sleeves and unbuttoning a button or two.
Florals, stripes, plaid—I love it all! Patterns are fun, but in family pictures, patterns can get distracting. You don’t have to avoid patterns, but it’s a good idea to limit them. For a family of two to five, I recommend that only one family member wear a pattern.
Cartoon characters are fun, and we all have our favorite stores, but characters, graphics, and large logos can be distracting in photos. Instead, opt for solid colors or patterned (remember to limit) outfits.
While you’ll want to limit patterns and avoid characters, you can add interest and dimension to your family photo outfits with textures. For example, a chunky knit sweater or cardigan looks great in photos!
You can really play up an outfit and add personality and interest to your photos with accessories. While you don’t want your accessories to distract from your family’s lovely faces, earrings and a bracelet, a statement necklace, a handsome watch, a cute scarf, and other accessories can make your outfits and family photos seem more complete.
Unfortunately, hot pink, neon green, bright red, and other vibrant colors don’t photograph very well. Our skin is reflective, and bright colors tend to add strange, not-so-attractive hues to our faces and any exposed skin in photos.
If you aren’t sure if a color is too bright, look in a mirror in a well-lit room and hold the piece of clothing under your chin. If you can see a hint of the color on your skin, you should consider a different outfit.
Struggling to pick colors? Pastel colors, jewel tones, navy, white, and cream tend to photograph well.
It can be very tempting to put your little man in that cute, tweed jacket you’ve been eyeing, but if he isn’t comfortable, he probably isn’t going to be very happy. It’s a good idea to avoid itchy textures, uncomfortable shoes, and anything that will make kids too hot or cold.
I crack up everytime I see family photos from the 80’s. The big hair and even bigger sleeves are always a dead giveaway for the decade and instantly date photos. As you decide what to wear for family photos, aim to pick classic options (options that won’t make your sides hurt years from now).
This is easily the most important tip for picking family photo outfits (I told you our story). Choose what you’re going to wear ahead of time! Family photos should be fun, not stressful. When you wait until the last second to think about clothing, it’s easy to forget this.
Make it your goal to have outfits ready to go one week before your photo session. This gives you seven whole days to look forward to family photos and makes getting ready before your session an easy process for both you and your kiddos.
That’s a lot of information, but by following these tips, you’ll have great outfits and family photos you’ll love and cherish.
Victoria Rayburn Photography is a Lafayette, Indiana family photographer, wedding photographer, and senior photographer who strives to make photo sessions enjoyable memories and help clients feel comfortable in front of the camera.