What to wear for family photos

What to wear for family photos is a big decision!  Not only do I get asked often by my clients, I also fret myself how to dress my own family for our own pictures every year.  I’ve compiled a list of styling tips that I hope you find helpful for getting your family ready for your photo session.

1. Coordinate, but don’t match

When deciding what to wear for family photos select a colour palette with colours that complement each other and do not clash. Instead of having everyone wear the same colour, it’s better to pick 2-3 colours that can be coordinated in different ways by each person. This allows for a cohesive look without everyone looking too uniform. It is also important to consider the skin tone of each person, so that the colours chosen will flatter everyone.

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Well executed coordiation, but pulling colours out of Mom’s dress.

TIP! You can have one member of your family wear a pattern and then have everyone else’s clothes and accessories pull colours from the pattern. 

There are hundreds of online colour palettes you can get ideas from as well.

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Each small square of 4 represents a group of complimentary colours

Here is a link to my Pinterest board with lots of colour palettes and ideas:

2. Layers & Textures

Layers & Textures can create interest when you are deciding what to wear for family photos.  Texture can be achieved using different clothing materials such as lace, tweed, ruffles, crochet, buckles etc.  Also adding different layers can create texture.  This can be done in a fun way with bright colours or can also look beautiful with neutral soft colour palettes.  Go with what suites your own style.

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3. Accessorize!

Accessorizing can bring your family photos to life and add that extra touch of style. Scarves, hats, jewelry, vests, ties, sweaters, jackets, boots, and flowers in the hair are all great options to consider. However, it’s important to remember that the focus of the photo should always be your family, so avoid accessories that are too overpowering. The goal is to complement your outfits, not steal the show. By adding just the right amount of accessories, you can make your family photos truly pop!

3. Think about your home decor

When it comes to your family photos, you may want them to be displayed proudly on your walls for years to come. So, you might want to consider where you will hang your pictures and coordinate your clothing with the colours and overall feel of the room. A picture that looks great in a neutral room with minimal colour may clash with a room that has many bold colour accents. Consider the surroundings when choosing your outfits, so your images seamlessly blend in with your home decor.

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4. Be comfortable

Each family member should be comfortable in what they are wearing when you decide what to wear for family photos.  Wear clothing that suits each member’s personality and body type.  Make sure kids are comfortable and happy in their clothing.  If they can’t move, if they are scratching or pulling at their clothes they will just be grouchy and feeling miserable.

what to wear for family photos

5. Patterns are great in moderation

While patterns can add visual interest and variety to a photo, too many patterns can become overwhelming and distract from the overall image. To avoid this, it’s important to balance patterns with solid colours that complement each other and work well together when choosing what to wear for family photos.

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Besides his awesome moustache, I love how the wife took the little bit of purple out his patterned shirt and coordinated to look fabulous.

7. Think about the location

The location of a family photo shoot can greatly affect the overall look and feel of the final images. It’s important to consider the setting and choose outfits that complement the environment. When picking out what to where for family photos if the background is very busy or has a lot of competing colours and patterns (like a graffiti wall), choose simpler clothing with solid colours. If the background is more neutral or muted, bolder clothing choices can add visual interest to the image. The key is to choose outfits that complement and enhance the overall setting, rather than detracting from it.

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This family got it right for winter. Their clothes go perfectly with their surroundings.
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I love the vintage look this family chose to go with their cool truck.

8. Keep it classic

I’m hoping some pictures from your session will make the wall, and I don’t want them to look dated in a few years, so when you are deciding what to wear for family photos, think of simple, timeless pieces of clothing that will look great for years to come.

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And now, a few dont’s

  • Stay away from large logos, characters or graphics.
  • Shoes matter.  Avoid sneakers (unless they are a stylish shoe or something that goes with the session).  A fun, bold shoe on kids looks fantastic and can pull together the colours.
  • Get haircuts/trims a week or two before your photo session.
  • Everyone wearing the same colour shirt.  Matching is dated now and not very exciting.  Gone are the days of white t-shirts and blue jeans.
  • White socks on guys:  Please don’t wear white socks.