The Photography Blog

What to Wear for Family Photos: Memories with Timeless Style

If you’re anything like me, well before I even have a date for my family photos on the calendar…well before school photo day is even announced, I am already thinking about what clothes I want each person in my family to wear. Anyone with a daughter, who is at least 4 years old, or a child who is sensitive to fabrics and how clothes feel, know that what we want and what actually ends up being worn are often two different things! 

I’ve put together a few things that I think about when dressing my own family – from the perspective of a mom who knows when to pick my battles, and as a photographer who knows what will not only look nice in photos, but what will add to the images and keep the focus on you and your family, and not distract from the joy and nostalgia we are capturing! 

Be comfortable!

  • This goes for you and each member of your family. Choose soft, breathable materials that allow you all to move, sit, stand, dance, and try to avoid anything that is stiff, itchy, doesn’t fit well, or might restrict movement in any way. For moms I recommend a long flowy dress as it photographs beautifully, is figure flattering and is easy to move in. If you aren’t a dress person, jeans and a flowy blouse is a great choice!
    • If you aren’t comfortable and feeling confident in what you are wearing, it will show in the photographs. Same goes for the kids – if they aren’t comfortable the agitation will outshine their personalities.

Pro Tip 1: try on your outfits well before the day of our sessions. We will be moving a lot throughout our session so make sure you can sit on the ground, squat and stand comfortably. If you have young kids you will be picking them up, bending over, etc. so make sure clothes aren’t restrictive and are loose enough they don’t show unwanted skin, undergarments or gape in areas you don’t like.

Coordinate…but don’t match

  • The goal is to create a cohesive look with complementary colors and patterns and still letting each family member be an individual. My favorite analogy I’ve heard is that figuring out a family’s wardrobe for a photo session is like assembling a fancy charcuterie board! Lots of different flavors and textures that all come together perfectly! 
    • When choosing what color(s) to dress in, I ALWAYS start with neutrals. Creams, browns, tans always photograph beautifully and are timeless. These colors fit any season and location. If I want to add a pop of colors, I love to add in the warm, rich maroons and mustard yellows in the fall, and the lighter pastel blues or pinks in the spring. 

Pro Tip 2: start with the pickiest person’s outfit first and then build around something that will work for them!

Layers, layers, layers!

  • Living in New England you know that it can be winter in the morning, feel like fall by lunch, and then end the day with summer heat! The best way to prepare for whatever the day has in store is to dress in layers! This is especially key for kids as they tend to be super active and warm up their bodies quickly, but also are the first to feel the chill in the evening as the sun starts to go down.
    • For the fall, think cozy like knitwear, corduroy, waffle knit, cable knit or even a touch of plaid. For the warmer nights, think eyelet, ruffles, swiss dots or chambray. 

Pro Tip 3: as you are looking through your closets, think about playing around with different textures. This is a quick and super easy way to add depth and interest into your photos without taking anything away from the actual subject of the photos – your family! 

The “do not wear” list is just as important

  • AVOID logos, super bright colors (neons and bold colors) and graphics – simply put, these are distracting in photos. It’s best to keep clothing simple – solid colors, large stripes or small patterns all photograph nicely. 

Remember, the most important thing you want to be considering if that you and your family feel comfortable, confident and happy in what you wear for the photo session. This will translate into the photos and together we will be able to create timeless photographs that you and your family will cherish for years!

If you have any questions as you are preparing the wardrobe, let me know! I would love to see a pic of what you’re thinking – I’m more than happy to give you my input and offer suggestions!

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