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

This is a big one and might sound a little confusing.  It’s more about picking a complimentary colour palette and not having everyone wear the same colour.  Pick 2 – 3 colours that everyone can coordinate with. 

What to wear for family photos
Perfectly executed pattern coordination pulled from the 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 create interest in 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!

Accessories can complete a look and make your family photos pop.  Scarves, hats, jewelry, vests, ties, sweaters, jackets, boots and flowers in the hair can all add a little pizzazz.  The subject should be the most important thing in the picture, so don’t let your accessories overwhelm you. 

Accessories should compliment you, but not take the focus.

3. Think about your home decor

I’m hoping your pictures get hung up on the wall, so think about where you will hang your pictures.  Coordinate your clothing with the colours and feel of your room. This picture would go great in a room without a lot of colour but could clash in a room with lots of colour accents.

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4. Be comfortable

Each family member should be comfortable in what they are wearing.  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.

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5. Patterns are great in moderation

I think patterns are great, but not everyone in the photo should wear a pattern or it becomes distracting in the final images.  Balance patterns with solid colours that work well together.

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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

Where you are doing your family pictures should be taken into consideration.  If you are outside at the park you might dress differently than if you are downtown with a graffiti, urban backdrop.  Think about how the colours and patterns you’ve chosen in your outfits will stand out against your location.

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

8. Keep it classic

Again 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.  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.