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What to Wear for Family Pictures

Is this the year you are ready to update your family pictures? I can’t wait to meet you! In the meantime, here are some helpful tips on what to wear for family pictures.

Deciding what to wear for family pictures can feel like a daunting task, but it’s a lot easier when not left to the last minute. Be sure to start planning at least two weeks ahead of your session! This gives you plenty of time to have your laundry done and to go shopping if needed.

How to Decide What To Wear For Family Pictures

The first thing I ask when someone seeks advice on what to wear is where they plan to hang the portraits in their home, and what colors are in that room. For example, if you are planning to hang your prints in a family room that is painted red and black and you plan to wear orange and brown, it won’t work very well!

Along with that, instead of too many crazy prints, your family portraits will look more cohesive by choosing a basic color palette, preferably with at least one neutral like blue or brown.

When planning what to wear for family pictures, no matter the season, remember there is a difference between matching and coordinating. Ten years ago for family pictures everyone matched – think white button down shirts and khakis, etc. Most people don’t match their family on a daily basis, and if they do match for their session they are changing out of those clothes as soon as pictures are over because it doesn’t feel like “them.”

The key? Coordinate colors, don’t match with a “family uniform.”

How To Coordinate For Family Pictures

First, I highly recommend you try on your clothes at least two days before to make sure you feel comfortable in them and that they fit well.  

As you select your outfits, keep the following points in mind:

  • I always recommend a lighter color palette over darker. This complements my shooting style and also leads to cleaner skin tones because it will reflect more light into your face!
  • Pick a color or two and then coordinate one of those into everyone’s outfit. 
  • Sometimes the best way to do this is to find a dress that mom likes and then dress everyone else around her! (You always put your kids first, but this is a time to celebrate you, too! If you’re not happy with your outfit you aren’t going to love your pictures as much.)
  • Everyone doesn’t need to wear all the colors you choose.  You can incorporate the colors with scarfs, sweaters, hair bows, or even shoes.
  • Split up the colors where possible.  If I have six people in my family and have selected three main colors, I don’t necessarily want all of those colors on top, nor to the people that are close in age – I want to split them up. Weigh some color towards the bottom in one or two of them as well with shoes and pants or skirts. (This is the most common way to coordinate for your family pictures.)


    Ultimately the decision on what to wear is up to your family, not me! I simply strive to give enough ideas to help you find what works for you.

The most important suggestion I can offer is this:
Be yourself, but be the BEST VERSION of yourself. Take the time to plan your clothing, don’t just throw something on. Elevate your outfits beyond the everyday so that you’ll have family photos that you’ll want to show off for years to come! This means pulling that favorite dress out from the closet and ditching your everyday jeans!

I have an entire Pinterest board with ideas on what to wear for your session! 

What NOT to wear for your family pictures?

While it varies by location, the Keweenaw Peninsula has a lot of dark pine trees. Because of this I recommend staying away from black, especially for tops, because you will blend into any dark trees behind. I have included a Pinterest pin below with an example of this. You are having family pictures taken as a way to make your family stand out, so don’t blend in by accident!

Source

A few other things to note:

  • When scheduling your family photographs, late afternoon is a great time – not only is the light beautiful, but by planning it before dinner, you don’t have to worry about any food getting on your clothes. Another bonus is everyone is motivated to get it right the first time so they can get it over and eat!
    • Note: this time period is not advised for beach portraits, but we will come up with a time that works best for your individual situation!
  • Sunscreen is very important the week before – Photoshop can correct minor skin issues but is not a magic wand, especially for sunburns and peeling!
  • Please remember to try on clothing ahead of time! There is nothing worse than realizing the day of that you do not have the proper/necessary undergarments, etc! This includes colored bras under light colored shirts (as well as the same issues with bottoms).
    • In addition, if you’re not comfortable in what you are wearing there is a very good chance that this will come across in your pictures. Take your time selecting the perfect outfit for you!

I hope you found these tips helpful in planning for your family photography session! Don’t forget to share this post with the rest of your family so you are all ready for your beautiful family pictures!

And remember – you’re never fully dressed without a smile!

Still have questions? Fill out my contact form and I’ll contact you personally!

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