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Family - Dressing for Family Sessions

Updated: Mar 28

#PortraitYOU 📸 F A M I L Y - Dressing for Family Sessions


After scheduling a family session, clients generally ask me what they should wear to their shoot. It’s important to discuss clothing options with clients because what they wear can set the tone of the photos. I find out what type of family photos they are drawn to with location and clothing type as a general indicator of what they are looking for in a family photo. If they don’t have any preferences then I give them some tips for clothing choices.


A Casual Vibe

Flowy dresses for women and girls, khakis and button down shirts for the guys lends a more casual vibe to the photos which works well with outdoor locations in summer and early fall shoots.


The Classic Look

For a classic look, have clothing options like tailored dresses and suits. Classic looks are timeless and the photos will be too. You can’t go wrong with classic clothing. A classic shoot can be in a studio or at most locations except for beachy areas.


A Formal Theme

Dressier clothes are perfect for a formal theme. If you have an evening event, schedule a photo shoot for earlier in the day. Have your hair and makeup done for a polished look and you are then ready to head out for a night on the town. This shoot can be done in-studio or on-site with rich architecture or an elaborate interior. If in-studio talk to the photographer to ensure they can provide a formal setup for your shoot.


Clothing for all shoots regardless of the style, should be color coordinated on the subjects. Color schemes that work best for most are neutral, blacks and jewel tones. If you stick to neutrals in similar and coordinating colors then you can’t miss. Eyes are drawn to bright colors in photos and take away from the main subject which is you and your family. It’s best to keep them minimal and maybe use in accessories or as a pop of color and not as an article of clothing.


Shoes are seen in family photos more than other types of genres, therefore, they should look nice, appropriate for the type of shoot and comfortable. Family mini sessions move fast and you will be asked to get into different poses quickly, since children get antsy and have shorter attention spans.


Coodination of clothing is important, but I also want you to enjoy this time together because the reason for the photos, after all, is about making memories with your family.


There are some things to avoid when choosing clothes. Too many patterns on family members will promote busyness in the photo. Also many patterns tend to look misshapen and funny in post-processing, especially stripes. Avoid them or keep it to a minimum.


Wearing ill-fitting clothes will make you uncomfortable and that will come across in the photos. Have everyone try on their clothes before the shoot. This way, if something doesn’t fit correctly you can substitute with something else. I want everyone to be comfortable so it is important to wear season appropriate clothing.

Clothes should be cleaned and ironed. Wrinkles are something most people never think about but they show in photos and are difficult to correct.


Do not try anything new: haircut, spray tan, waxing, haircolor, etc. It’s natural to want to try something new for a photo but it’s not worth the trouble if it doesn’t work out. If you want to try something new, do it well in advance so you know how it looks before you step in front of the camera.


Hands are generally in photos so neutral looking nails are the best. If you want to wear a color, coordinate it with your clothing. A bright nail color with a subdued outfit will stick out like a sore thumb. No pun intended.


That’s about it, but if you are unsure of your clothing choices, talk with your photographer ahead of your session. They are there to help you have the best session for you and your family and to create photos you will love for years. As a photographer, I will give you my best suggestions, but in the end, I will shoot you in whatever you want to wear because making memories with your family is the ultimate goal.








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