What To Wear In Your Family Photos – 10 Easy Tips

May 24, 2021 | Tips & Tricks

A family of four sits on a bench in Badger Prairie County Park in Verona, WI.

Probably the most common question I hear when it comes to family portraits is, “What should we wear?” I get it – you want to look your best, but sometimes coordinating outfits for family pictures can be a daunting task! In our everyday lives, my family definitely doesn’t coordinate enough for a photo shoot. However, when it comes to professional photos of your family, it’s best to give it a little more effort. I do provide an outfit inspiration guide to all my clients before their sessions, but I completely understand the anxiety around planning what to wear for your family pictures. To help you out a little bit, here are ten of my favorite tips to help you choose your outfits for your family photo session (Looking for where to shop? Look no further!).

1. Avoid all (or mostly) black

I know that black is easy and “slimming” and all that. But when a family wears mostly black, it tends to blend and blur together in photos. You can’t tell when one person ends and another begins. It’s ok to incorporate black into your outfit, but try to keep it to a minimum. If you want to wear neutrals or dark colors, opt for navy, gray, or brown instead.

2. Don’t match – coordinate

We’ve all seen the photos with the whole family wearing matching jeans and t-shirts. While this ensures no one clashes, it isn’t natural and really doesn’t provide any visual interest. Not to mention, it just looks cheesy! Instead, pick a color palette and distribute it across the members of the family. You won’t clash, but you also won’t be matchy-matchy! I provide some example color palettes in my outfit inspiration guide, but there are tons of resources for this online as well.

Four young girls stand together smiling as their hair whips in the wind.
This color palette is great – it’s cohesive without being too matchy.

3. Steer clear of words/characters etc.

Graphic tees can be a really fun way to showcase your personality and they can be great for photoshoots when done right. But I always advise leaning towards the side of classic and timeless when choosing clothes for photoshoots. It’s best to avoid clothing with words or characters on them. They can be distracting and they don’t always age well.

4. Leave the neon

Neon is one of those things that will absolutely overpower an image. It doesn’t matter how small the neon is, your eye is simply drawn to it. I suggest steering clear of neon for photoshoots – this includes all areas of your outfits, so don’t forget to check your kids’ shoes for neon!

5. Don’t forget your shoes!

Speaking of shoes, it’s a good idea to try to look your best from head to toe. Definitely make sure your shoes go with your outfit and are ones you don’t mind showing up in a few images. You don’t want your dirty sneakers to distract from that adorable photo of your child.

6. Avoid busy patterns

In general, patterns are totally ok, just try to avoid tiny stripes or really busy patterns. The bigger the pattern, the better. For instance, a tiny floral pattern can be pretty eye-crossing in photos, but a large all-over floral looks great!

7. Layer up

Layers add visual interest and texture to any outfit. An open cardigan over a shirt, a scarf or shawl, or even a belt can break up the monotone. If the weather is hot, try sheer layers or jewelry for texture. If your children are ok with accessories, try a cute hat.

Madison WI Family Photography
I love the color palette here as well as the layering!

8. Shorts under dresses for little girls

Little girls in dresses are never not cute! But little girls also love to run and play (which is awesome!). To avoid flashing, put bike shorts or something similar on little girls who are wearing dresses. I’d hate to have to throw out a cute image because there’s some diaper or underwear showing!

9. Be comfortable!

I know that dressing up for photos can be uncomfortable, but if you wear clothes that truly don’t feel like you or make you uncomfortable, it will 100% show in the final images. Try on your clothes ahead of time to be sure you feel good in them and that you can move around easily in them. I’d much rather you be thinking about enjoying your photo session with your family than about your clothes!

10. Ask your photographer

If you’re feeling anxious or still can’t decide, I am always available to bounce ideas off. Send me what you’ve got and we’ll work together to come up with the best outfits for you and your family. Above all, I want you to be happy with your photos and I want the process to be as stress-free as possible. I am here to help!


Do you have any favorite tips I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments. And be on the lookout for my next post about where to shop for family photoshoot clothing!

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