What to Wear for Family Photos

A question I get asked frequently is what I recommend people wear for their family photos. There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer here, but here are a few things to consider.

Consider the weather. If you will be taking photos outdoors then dress according to the weather as much as possible. If you are doing family photos in the summer then dresses and khaki shorts are a great “dressy” solution without worrying about dress pants and suit coats in the heat. Or if it’s fall and you hoped to wear sweaters with jeans, but then a cold front comes through and it is freezing – then bundle up! Wear coats and scarves. It will still makes for super cute photos and your kiddos won’t look completely miserable. Also, if the weather suddenly changes (i.e.  you expected it to be pleasant spring weather and suddenly there is a cold snap), don’t be afraid to talk to your photographer about rescheduling for a more pleasant day.


Consider your location. If you are doing spring photos with lots of blossoms in the backdrop then you might want to wear pastels to complement the scenery. If you are taking photos on the beach, you might consider either really bold colors that will pop against the white sand & blue water or you might want to go with a more neutral color palate to soften the photos. Pinterest is a great resource for this. Just type in “Beach Family Photos” or “Fall Family Photos” or “Rustic Family Photos” or whatever style of session you are doing and you will see a plethora of ideas!


Consider if you want a trendy look or a classic look. My regular clients have updated family photos taken every season, every six months, or at least once a year. But other clients have photos taken only every couple of years or even every five years. If the family photo you are going to take today will be displayed on the wall for the next five years, you might want to think twice before wearing something super trendy. There’s nothing wrong with wearing trendy clothes, but it certainly makes photos look more dated to a specific time frame which may not be ideal if you only take photos every 5 years.

  • Classic Look Suggestion: A little black dress next to a suit is going to look great. Put kids in their Sunday best neutrals and bada-bing, bada-boom – you have magic.
  • Trendy Look Suggestion: Currently I see a lot of chunky cardigans, furry vests, buffalo plaid, florals, and chambray. But a year from now this will be totally different. For the most updated colors of the season, check out the Pantone colors by Googling “Pantone Spring 2017” (or if you are reading this in the fall of 2018 then you can do the same search, but with the updated season and year). And of course you can search “family photos” on Pinterest and you will have an array of choices at your fingertips.
  • Fun Outfits Suggestion: I love when families want to do a fun outfit together. Typically we’ll take photos in their “normal” clothes and then everyone will change for one or two fun photos. These can revolve around a school, sports team, movie, etc!

Alabama inspired photo

Be comfortable in what you wear. This can happen to any member of the family, but I see it most frequently with women and teen girls. You don’t want to wear something that you are constantly tugging on. If you are tucking your bra straps in with every shift in position or tugging your skirt down or shirt up, you are going to look uncomfortable in the photos. This happens a lot to men with shirt sleeves that they’ve three quartered, but won’t stay that way. From my side it’s not terribly inconvenient to have you adjust your clothing before each shot, but my clients tend to be less at ease if I’m frequently having them adjust clothing.

spring family photo (3)

Wear colors that complement each other. You don’t have to be super matchy-matchy, but do shoot for colors that complement each other well. Again, Pinterest is a great resource for this. Try searching: “Family Photo Color Scheme.”

Family Photo neutrals and blues

A word of caution about pattern mixing. Having several different patterns being worn by different people in your family photo can be really distracting. For example, if we have stripes, polka dots, paisley, and plaid all in the same picture then all the attention will be on the clothes instead of the people wearing them. Patterns certainly can add some interest to family photos so they are fine to wear as long as it’s only a couple of people wearing them.

siblings (1)

Final Thoughts. If you aren’t confident in your outfit choices, talk to your photographer! Send her or him photos of what you are thinking of wearing and ask for opinions. I do this for clients all the time. I want my clients to feel confident that our session together is going to turn out awesome so I don’t want them doubting whether or not they picked out good color combinations for photos. And feel free to check out my Pinterest board: What to Wear for some of my current favorite ideas.

When was the last time you did family photos? How did you choose what to wear?
Love Rach





28 responses to “What to Wear for Family Photos

  1. Funny you should post this today because I just booked our 6 month shoot for #babybigtruck2 and I have to figure out what we’re all gonna wear.

  2. Choosing clothes on a daily basis is hard for me. It is ten times worse when I know that I am going to be in photos lol! Love the Alabama themed one, obviously 🙂

    • Girl, this is like the story of my life right now. I normally don’t have a problem deciding what to wear, but pregnancy has changed that. At nearly 6 months pregnant, I’m finally having to acknowledge that very few of my pre-pregnancy tops actually fit me anymore, haha! A lot of them were really flowy and forgiving around the middle so they’ve been easy to continue wearing (not so with the skinny jeans – I had to switch to a belly band before my first trimester was over and then moved on to maternity jeans/shorts by the beginning of my second). Anyway, I keep pulling things out of my closet thinking I’m going to wear it that day and then I look in the mirror and I’m like “Oh good gracious, that just isn’t even decent” ha! A few of the tops still cover the belly, but I’m afraid I’m going to permanently stretch them out. So I finally went and bought a couple of new maternity tops today. I’ll just have a limited wardrobe. But at least I won’t go through 8 changes of clothes trying to find something that looks good on me, haha! Aaaanyway, I totally get it now. How difficult it can be to pick something to wear!

  3. That sports themed picture is so cute!! How fun! And i love the bundled up, coats and scarves, pictures!! That’s what I was thinking of doing for our last family pics but I couldn’t coordinate the outerwear enough, lol. It’s cheaper to buy new regular clothes than new coats, lol

    • It IS a lot cheaper to buy regular clothes than outerwear! Christopher and I have nearly identical gray winter peacoats so when we take photos of us all bundled up, we just look like we’re twinning, haha!

  4. Being comfortable would be a huge key for me, and ensuring my patterns don’t clash. I would have my family wear all solids. HA. And dark. Because I love black.

    • Haha! Nothing wrong with that! I photographed a family a couple of weeks ago who all wore black and it actually turned out to look pretty timeless!

  5. I like to be comfortable, and the kids too , then they are a little less distracted for posing which is a challenge Rach! Hugs, Terri.💗

  6. This is such a great guide, Rachel! Lately, I’ve been loving navy family photos with a pop of color or two!

  7. Love this advice! And I always send pictures to my photographer because I am such a second guesser, and I always love others opinions!

  8. Such great tips! I’m getting ready to do a little shoot with my guys for Easter and the hardest part for me right now is what they will be wearing. I have a patterned shirt for one and I am thinking a solid color for my other son so it doesn’t look too busy. Beautifully Candid

    • That sounds like a great idea! A little interest to the photo without it being too overwhelming. Hope photos go really smoothly! 🙂

  9. Love the idea of family fun outfits!

  10. Love the one reading the magazines. And such great tips! Part of the reason why I think you’re the best in the biz!! Can’t wait for all your shots of baby girl!!

    • Aww! Well aren’t you a sweetheart?! 🙂 That magazine photo was all their idea. I thought it was so cute! 🙂 And I’m excited to get to start taking photos of her so soon! 🙂

  11. Love all this advice! I think if people are confident and somewhat comfortable in their clothes it makes all the difference in photos.

    • Yes, absolutely! I know that when I’m being photographed in an outfit that I know looks good on me and that I’m comfortable wearing, I am far more at ease during the photos. 🙂

  12. I seriously love all of these tips! Each time Jimmy and I have our pictures taken at a studio, the guidelines are just really short and basic and I always feel lost, haha. I am going to refer back to this post when we do our Christmas pictures!

  13. Coordinating clothes between a lot of people can be hard! Angel and I are thinking of getting professional photos taken soon–he wanted to have some photos to give to his aunts and relatives he hasn’t seen in many years while we’re visiting California–I don’t know if we’ll be able to fit it in, but I’m already wondering what to wear or what style we should go for! Obviously, this is kind of a last-minute idea. Our last actual professional photos were for our wedding in 2010–we were always kind of assuming that we’d get our next professional photos when we had a baby to add to the photo, but I’m coming to think they would be worth getting even for our very small family.

    • I definitely think having updated photos of your sweet family are a great idea. I wonder if you could have them taken after picking up your ring? And girl, you have awesome fashion. I have no doubt your outfit picks would be great!

  14. This is such a great post! We always have our photos taken in a park with either green or yellow/hay coloured grass backgrounds so we always try to go for bright colours!

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