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Family Portrait Guide | What Should We Wear?

Ah, the age old question – ‘What should I wear?’ 

We know that choosing outfits for a portrait session can be an overwhelming task, especially when planning for multiple family members. We’re here to help! We want to provide our clients with the best possible artwork and we also want them to have FUN during the session, so we encourage planning to eliminate stress and to make sure you look and feel your best during your session! 

We’re not going to tell you that anything is off limits because we believe that a person’s style is part of what makes them unique. Besides, rules are boring and YOUR family is NOT boring! Having said that, we are going to give you a few tips to make the planning process easier so that you and your family can show up for your photo session ready to play and have a good time!
Tip #1 | Plan 
You’re a parent – which means you do a lot and you’re rarely off duty. We know you have so much to juggle, but taking time out to plan ahead will relieve stress. Waiting until the last minute can cause unnecessary chaos and panic – so try to start envisioning what will be worn a week or two in advance! As you gather your outfits, lay them out and take a picture of them to see how they look and how they flow together! Have all of your outfits and accessories together in a designated spot the night before your session. Try to remove as much lint/hair/wrinkles from your clothing before the session as possible and consider bringing along a lint-roller or steamer if necessary. If you plan on having your hair or nails done before your session, give yourself a few hours of buffer time in case any appointments run longer than expected!
Tip #2 | Matching
Your family is your pack, but that doesn’t mean you all need to dress alike. While small children can look adorable in matching outfits, it is generally considered a trend that has long passed. Coordinate your outfits instead. Try using a color palette to find colors that compliment each other while mixing in neutrals to add separation between colors.  Throw in a few patterns and textures to add depth and tie the group together. Have one person wear a shirt with a collar and someone else wear a shirt without a collar. Someone can wear a vest and someone can wear a jacket or a sweater. Mix in shades of blue jeans if your family likes that style, or throw in some khaki as well. Pinterest and the internet can help you find some color schemes and ideas on how to tie colors and patterns together in large groups!
Tip #3 | Texture
We love the texture and layers in the scenery that we choose for family portrait sessions and the same goes for clothing. Textures can add more depth, warmth, and character to photos and can also help add some separation and interest. Some great textures are: knits, flannel, lace, tweed, leather, denim, denim, tulle… Try mixing these up within your group.
Tip #4 | Accessories + Props

Accessories are fun and can add personality, and props that coincide with a theme or location really tie things together. Hats, necklaces, headbands, suspenders… these are great for showing your style and bringing outfits and groups together as well. Roller blades and ice cream cones can set the scene for a summer session. Coffee and blankets for a fall session create feeling of warmth. Props help paint a more complete picture, can keep things from being too pose-y, and can also make sessions more enjoyable. 

(scroll down for more tips!)

Tip #5 | Avoid Character Tees and Large Logos

Your little one may love Dora, but you aren’t necessarily going to want her in your family photos. Character tees can be very distracting to the eye and can date an image (for instance… is Dora still relevant?). Same goes for large logos like a big Nike Swoosh! It’s best to avoid large and distracting logos when possible.

Tip #6 | Location

Consider your location when planning your outfits for the session. Are you going to be out in nature? Yellow or blue really pop in a beautiful way when surrounded with greenery. Cityscape? A nice floral pattern or pastel shade looks great with clean, muted architecture. If you’re from St. Louis, you are aware of the abundance of red brick buildings around. Blue and green pop wonderfully against those red shades. If you’re planning an in-home lifestyle session, it would make sense to be more casual with your clothing choices! 

Tip #7 | Seasons

This probably goes without saying, but embracing the season of your family session can help with planning your outfits and telling a story throughout the images. Scarves, knit hats, gloves, and nice coats make winter photos feel cozy. Flannels, jackets, hats, and boots are fun for fall. Flowy dresses, floppy hats, and sunglasses look great in the summer. Rainy spring day?! Cute rain coats, rain boots, and umbrellas, please!

Tip # 8 | LARGE Families

It’s time to update your family photo… and by family, you mean your entire family tree. How are you supposed to coordinate what everyone will wear? Are you supposed to tell other adults what to wear and how to dress their children? 

*take a deep breath!, we got you!*

Decide on an easy color palette for everyone – such as navy and tan with pops of an accent color, such as yellow. Have each subgroup focus on the tone of those colors by mixing up the shades that they choose within that color range. Tell people to feel free to mix in a pattern or two within their group if it fits their style. Telling them to mix in textures and layers, such as jackets and sweaters, will also keep the large group from matching too much and will give a more styled vibe. Pops of an accent color will work wonders when added into accessories (like scarves or vests), patterns (such as plaid or stripes), and when used sparingly as solid colored tops (worn by a member or two from each smaller group within the large group).

We hope you find these tips useful and also encourage you to reach out if you need any help with outfit planning! The most important thing is to have fun and connect with your family! Our ultimate goal is to capture some authentic moments and by being prepared and feeling good about the way you are dressed, you will be able to relax and let those moments happen more easily!

Follow us on Pinterest and check out our Family Style Inspiration board for more visual ideas on what to wear for your upcoming family session!


Interested in our wedding or portrait services? Take a moment to fill out an inquiry form and a member of our team will respond as soon as possible!

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