October 12, 2018

What To Wear For Family Pictures

What to Wear For Family Pictures

With the fall season in full swing here in Arizona, I thought this would be the perfect article to post for you guys. The most common question I get from clients is “What should we wear for our session?”

The following tips are merely my opinions and suggestions, and are not rules you must follow!! Take the tips you like, and leave the ones you don’t. There may be things you don’t agree with or decide to disregard and that’s totally fine with me. I don’t want you to feel like you have to follow this guide exactly, I am just sharing my thoughts on What to Wear For Family Pictures and I hope you find this post helpful.

Tip #1: Choose a Classic Color Palette

When deciding on a color palette for your family photos, neutral and muted tones are always a safe and favorite option. If you would like to choose bold colors, I say go for it, just make sure that you pair it with some softer tones. Keep in mind where you will be displaying these photos. If you plan to use them as decor, be mindful of what kind of colors you want displayed throughout your house.

  • Skip Tradition: You do not have to put everyone in the same color. Choose 2-3 colors and mix in neutrals like grey, brown, taupe etc. On the contrary, you don’t want everyone in different colors, because it can look really busy.
  • Black is classic, HOWEVER: it definitely stands out and draws the eye.  If you like black, I would avoid solid black clothing, and choose something with a simple pattern, sheer overlaid fabric or something that has a textured element to it. Since black is so bold, I wouldn’t necessarily call it a neutral and I would still add in other neutrals to help soften the color palette. 
  • Go Monochromatic: Different shades of the same color looks amazing and can add another layer of dimension to the photos.
  • What About White: White is a beautiful neutral, but can often look really washed out. So if you choose to incorporate white, I would also add contrasting layers in another color to give some shape to the rest of your body. I love white pants, or cream sweaters for Mom. Crisp white button ups on dad or little boys is cute, however I would pair it with colored tie/bowtie, jacket, or vest to break up the white. 
  • Mix Up the Clothing Colors: Instead of putting all the boys all in the same color shirt, alternate the colors like a navy shirt for dad and navy pants for the son, and a lighter blue shirt for another boy. You can also mix colors across genders to add variety. Remember to use different shades of the same colors to add interest to the photos.
  • Avoid Busy Patterns: such as stripes, overly busy plaid designs, and writing/logos can be extremely distracting to the viewers eye.

Tip #2: Dress For Comfort 

  • Be Mindful of Fit: Fitted clothes can be really beautiful and comfortable to wear, but they usually show every curve and unflattering wrinkle. Wearing a slimming or shaping undergarments is definitely a plus, or fitted clothing should be avoided all together. When you look in the mirror at home if something bothers you then chances are it will bother you in every photo. If you choose a dress, or top that shows your bra, or under shirt at certain angles, I recommend choosing something else. 
    Photo Courtesy of Ashley Rae Photography
  • Choose Outfits You Would Actually Wear: There is nothing worse than buying new clothes for your family pictures and then never wearing them again, or worse yet, buying something you thought you loved, only to find out that you really didn’t like it as much as you thought you did. If you hardly ever wear dresses, don’t feel like you have to wear one. Your confidence in your outfit will shine through in the photos.
  • Dress for Your Body Type: Show off and flaunt the areas of your body that you love!! Do you have gorgeous legs? Go for a short dress or mini-skirt. Do you love your curvy hips? Choose a flattering dress to show off those amazing curves. If there are areas you are not so fond of, make sure to choose items that flatter those areas. For example if you don’t particularly like your arms, avoid sleeveless or spaghetti strap tops, if your tummy isn’t as flat as you’d like it be but you look fierce in a v-neck, choose a looser fitting top that accentuates your upper half!!
  • Add Layers: This is a very simple tip that a lot of people forget about. Layering clothing with add a lot of visual interest and dimension to your photos. My favorite layering accessories are hats, vests, cardigans/jackets, scarves ties/bow-ties, headbands and jewelry. 

What To Wear For Family Pictures, Arizona Family Photographer

Tip #3: Treat Yourself

  • Hair: Treat yourself by getting your hair styled for your session. You will feel so much more confident which will show in the photos.
  • Makeup: My favorite makeup hack is to get my makeup done at the Mac Counter at they mall. They do a free application if you buy $60 worth of makeup. It’s best to make an appointment at least 2 weeks before your session.
  • Nails: Make sure to paint your nails and toes if they show. It will really add some pop to the photos.
  • Babysitter: Bring your mom, sister, friend or hire a babysitter to help chase your kiddos around, get them to laugh and smile for the photos, and then watch your kids that evening so you can have a date night!!
  • Invest In New Shoes + Outifts: Unless everyone in the family has photo worthy shoes/outfits, I suggest investing in new pieces for each member of the family. Of course purchase items that you will wear for the rest of the season not just for pictures. I always use our family pictures as an excuse to buy shoes and outfits that we will also wear for Christmas, church, school concerts and any other upcoming special events during the holidays.


  • Plan Ahead: Gather everything you will need for the family photos the night before. Hang everyone’s outfits together and pack what you will be bringing with you {snacks, water, baby wipes, pacifiers etc}. Give yourself lots of time to get ready and extra time for things to go wrong.
  • Write a Shot List: If there are specific groupings of photos you want to get, write them all down so we don’t forget. There is nothing worse than leaving a session and missing an important photo that you wanted.
  • Give your Husband Clear Expectations: If you need help getting the kids ready or packing up the car, make sure to give him clear directions with plenty of time to help out.
  • Wait to Dress Younger Kids: I would say kids that are 4 and under should get dressed in the parking lot at the session. There is nothing worse than having an accident or spilling something on their nice clothes while in the car.
  • Incentives are Gold: I’ve learned from first-hand experience, with my own little ones, that they will cooperate much better if there are small bite sized incentives. Now these incentives can be totally up to you. You know your kiddos best. {Cheerios, Skittles, M&Ms, Mini Marshmallows, etc} Heck it might even work for the husbands too!! For older kids a fun incentive might be ice cream after the session, or a red-box movie of their choice!
  • Have Me Make the Adjustments: Kids listen so much better if someone else is directing them. If you see something out of place or a fake smile from your little one let me know and I will facilitate the change. I want this to be a totally stress-free experience for you!! It can be intimidating for kids to have their picture taken and if I help direct, they will be more likely to listen.


  • Give Your Wife Grace: Family pictures are totally stressful for the whole family, us moms especially. Photos are so important to us and we want everything to go smoothly. Your wife will likely be running late since she is the last one to get ready. To avoid this, ask her in advance how you can help get the kids ready, change the clocks so she thinks it’s later than it really is, have the car packed up with all the essentials {stroller, pacifiers, blankets, snacks, water etc} and the kids, so she can just run out the door stress-free.
  • Crack Your Famous Dad Jokes: Keep everything on the up-and-up and make sure everyone is laughing and having a good time. It’s no fun to arrive to your family session stressed out and upset. Plan to arrive at your session 15 minutes early that way if you’re running late it’s not a big deal.
  • Bring Baby Wipes: This tip is from my husband. He always seems to be sweating during our family pictures so these come in handy. It’s also great to have wipes to clean off dirty knees or shoes when the kiddos start getting adventurous.
  • Let Your Kids be Kids: I know it’s hard not to want to correct your kiddos behavior at the session, but leave that to me. I will follow their lead and our goal is to keep everyone happy the whole time. If they need a break, we will give it to them. Once a happy kiddo starts crying, it’s hard to recover so I promise to take care of everything!!
  • Bring a Stroller: If you have kiddos 3 and under bring a stroller. This will be a great place to store all your stuff and also strap in the little ones during your couple portraits especially when they are walking.

Photo Courtesy of Ashley Rae Photography

I promise that your session is going to be so much fun and full of laughter!! It is my hope that you will enjoy this time with your family. Really focus on these important people in your life and remember your little ones are not going to be little forever. Soon they will be grown up and will need you less and less.

During your session, slow down and take in every moment, be present with your family and just enjoy them. When your little ones are grown and gone these moments will mean more to you then you ever thought imaginable.

I hope that you have enjoyed this stress-free guide planning guide and tips on how to dress for your family session.

Stay tuned for more posts where I share business tips, session ideas and happenings around here.

I would love for you to leave a comment below and tell me your favorite tips for what to wear and how to make family sessions more enjoyable!!

If you are looking for a photographer to document your family, let’s connect! Also you can follow along on Instagram to stay up to date with what’s happening. 

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