What to Wear for a Family Photoshoot

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There’s something so special about having professional pictures taken of your family. It’s a wonderful way to capture a moment in time, especially for parents of young children. Wondering what to wear to a family photoshoot? Read on for ideas and tips from real family photographers.

photos of family photoshoots
Photography by Mommy & Co Photography

Year after year, thousands of families all over the country enlist the help of professional photographers for family photos. Finding the perfect photographer is the first step, but what about what to wear for the family photoshoot?

If you have an upcoming family photoshoot and are starting to panic over what to wear or how to choose the perfect outfit, don’t stress! Learning how to choose and coordinate family photography outfits can actually be a lot of fun.

I’m going to share a few of the top tips when it comes to a family photoshoot what to wear. I’ve enlisted a few professional family photographers to also share their experience and knowledge on the topic as well: Hannah Jimerson of Rosethorn Studio and Dedria McClure of Mommy&Co Photography.

Note: Some links may be affiliate links. That means I may make a commission if you use my links to purchase, at no extra added cost to you! I only recommend products that I personally love and believe in. Full disclaimer here.

families during outdoor photoshoot
Photography by Rosethorn Studios

Family Photoshoots: What to Wear?

Family photography has changed a lot in the past few decades. Gone are the days of matchy matchy identical outfits and colors, or the need to go out and buy everyone new clothes.

Today’s family photoshoots focus more on coordinating outfits everyone feels comfortable in, focused around a few common elements. At the end of the day, every family wants to be able to look back on their family photos and remember the wonderful time, not the stress in trying to force your kids to wear clothes they hate.

Think About Location

Trying to pick the perfect outfits? While this article is all about choosing the right outfits for your upcoming family photoshoot, the very first step you need to do is decide WHERE you are having your family photos taken.

Spending the time to coordinate everyone’s outfits without taking into account the place your photographs are being taken will only result in a final photo that feels off.

Instead, start first by deciding where you want to have your family photoshoot. Will it be in a field or forest? On the beach? Perhaps at a really great new industrial location with bright colors?

You want to have this in mind first before moving forward with choosing your outfits.

Dress Everyone for The Same Occasion

Remember that the biggest piece of a great family photo is everyone looking like they belong together! Be sure everyone knows when they are choosing their outfits what kind of occasion this photo is.

Are you having formal family portraits done in a studio? A casual, outdoor family photoshoot? Make sure you are clear on what kinds of clothing family members should be picking out, so you don’t end up with someone who’s dressed for prom while everyone else is in blue jeans.

What Colors Work Best for Family Photoshoots?

When it comes to choosing what colors work best for family photoshoots, there aren’t across the board “best colors” for each family and portrait session. However, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, as we mentioned above, is the location. You want to be sure you are choosing colors that will look good wherever you are shooting.

For example, if you are taking your family photos in an outdoor space full of green foliage, you might want to opt against wearing green.

Second, think about the season. If you’re having an outdoor fall or winter family photoshoot, you’re going to want to be sure everyone is dressed warmly enough to be comfortable and have fun.

According to Dedria, a professional photographer based just outside of Atlanta, GA, take a look at “neutrals and earth tones… those colors are just timeless. If you decide to hang the photos on your wall (which you definitely should), neutral tones can go with any style of home.” Neutral shades also look great with a variety of skin tones.

Most important, choose colors and types of clothes that everyone is comfortable in. A good family photoshoot will allow each member of your family to shine and show off their own personality. If someone feels uncomfortable or self-conscious in their outfit, it will show in the final photos.

families dressed in neutral colors
Photography by Mommy & Co Photography

What to Wear for Family Pictures Outdoors

Our family loves outdoor family photoshoots, as I always feel it allows photographers to truly capture our children’s personalities. The kids feel more comfortable and we don’t have to stress about something in a studio getting broken. Plus, natural light is always a great choice!

What to wear for a family photoshoot outdoors? Dress for the environment! If you’re getting photos done on the beach, boots and long sleeve tops are going to look out of place, while bare feet would look weird in a city setting.

Keep in mind also that heels can also be precarious if you’re shooting somewhere you’ll be on an uneven surface.

Finally, if it’s a chillier time of year, you’ll need to keep that in mind as you put outfits together. That t-shirt might be adorable on your 3 year old, but if he gets cold he’s going to meltdown. Keep in mind that layers can be your friend. Outdoor sessions can be a lot of fun with the right clothing.

How to Coordinate Outfits for a Family Photoshoot

As I mentioned earlier, it’s no longer expected and recommended that every family member should be wearing the exact same outfit or same color. However, if you want your family photoshoot to really look great, you still want every individua in the photo to look like they belong there.

The simplest way to achieve this is through picking a common theme or color palette to coordinate outfits around. By identifying 2-4 colors or a colour scheme that compliment each other, you’re giving each member of your family the freedom to choose clothing they like that will still flow with the final look.

“When coordinating, I always recommend picking four to five colors, and using them in variety!” says Hannah. “So if our palette for a summer photoshoot is peach, blue, white, and tan, Mum’s outfit could be a peach dress with blue shoes, Dad could have blue pants and a white shirt, kids could have a variety of mix/match options!”

For example, we wanted to do an extended family photoshoot a few years ago. I chose navy blue and gray as our main colors, and asked each member of the family to choose a relatively neutral outfit that had navy or gray (or at the very least, looked good with it).

author's family photoshoot
Photography by Rosethorn Studios

Not only did this mean our little “unit” photos would look great, but it also was a great way to ensure that the whole family looked good during the big group family photo session looked cohesive too.

Not sure where to start? Here are a few ideas:

  • Pick out your personal favorite piece of clothing you own, or a new piece you really want to wear. Pick 2-4 colors or different shades that are a nice compliment to it.
  • Look at family matching collections at places like Target and Old Navy. These collections were created to coordinate with other outfits. Options typically include kids, baby, male and female, making it really easy to pick family photoshoot outfits.
  • Take a look at places like Pinterest for inspiration and pin a few outfits you love to your Pinterest board! Neutral colors are a great starting place.

Finally, don’t forget about the shoes! Make sure that as you map out the coordinating family photoshoot outfits, you’re also picking shoes that look great too.

The last thing you want is to forget about this and realize an hour before your photoshoot that all of your kids’ shoes are covered with mud!

different families outside
Photography by Mommy & Co Photography

What Not to Wear for Your Family Photoshoot

There are so many tips on what to wear for a family photoshoot, but what about what to avoid? Here are a few answers for those common questions.

Clothes you don’t feel comfortable in

This is the biggest one with kids especially! If you (or your children) aren’t comfortable in the outfits you’ve chosen, it will show in the final image.

If you’re worried about how you look, or your little girl is in a scratchy dress, you won’t be able to relax and have fun. So make sure to try on those outfits before the big day.

If you’re not comfortable in the clothes you are wearing you won’t feel confident and your personality won’t shine through. So, save the argument for another day and let your 5-year-old wear the thing they want to, not necessarily what you want them to wear.

Lots of crazy patterns

It’s really easy for patterns to clash in a photo if more than one person is wearing them. Depending on how loud the pattern is (or how many different patterns in one photo), it can also distract from your family’s actual faces. Solid colors are a better choice that also will age well.

Matching outfits

There was a time that matching outfits were the norm for family photos. Pretty much all of us have a family photo from childhood wearing the exact same outfit as our parents and siblings, and let’s just say it didn’t age well.

Let your kid’s personalities shine in the outfits they choose! Different outfits in the same color scheme will still look great together.

All white or all black clothing

While white shirts looks clean and sharp in person, they can also easily overexpose a photography. All black clothing can lose depth and details. It’s a good idea to avoid these.

Character Clothing and Logos

Images of characters from movies or tv shows and cartoon characters can be distracting in a photograph (especially if someone shows up in one that is super eye catching). Large logos on clothing have the same effect. It’s a great idea to avoid them.

This was a big one that both Hannah and Dedria agree with, too! “In most cases, logos can be very distracting,” says Dedria. “We all love Nike, but we do not want a huge Nike Logo in a sweet family session. Your eyes will want to drift to the logo.”

Adds Hannah, “It is super distracting and then is more of an ad for that thing than a great family photo.”

Other articles you might also enjoy:

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family photoshoot outfit ideas
Photography by Rosethorn Studios

Coordinating Outfits for Family Photoshoots Can Be Fun and Easy!

I hope this article was helpful as you work to choose the perfect family outfits for your next family photo shoot. To recap, our experts recommended you choose a color palette or 2-4 colors, take a look at neutrals, dress everyone for the same occasion, and avoid big graphics, patterns, and matching outfits.

What’s best way to help ensure a fantastic final product from your family photoshoot? Pick outfits that your family is truly comfortable in. “The most important thing for families to remember when planning their perfect photoshoot outfit- is to be yourself,” says Hannah. “Wear something that makes YOU feel confident. The better you feel, the better your photos will turn out!”

Dedria agrees, adding “Make sure you feel confident in whatever you are wearing. I have experienced a few clients that bought a new outfit without trying it on and they felt really uncomfortable throughout the session.”

Whether it’s a studio session or casual outdoor family photography sessions, hopefully this article helped inspire you as you choose family photo outfit ideas.

A big thank you to Hannah of Rosethorn Studio and Dedria of Mommy&Co Photography. You can follow and connect with Hannah on Instagram here, and Dedria on Instagram here.

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