5 Pro Styling Tips For Your Next Family Photoshoot

So, you’ve hired your dream family photographer and you are ready for beautiful photos that will capture your family in this stage of life and refresh your gallery wall in the process. But now you need to choose what to wear for the photoshoot and don’t know where to start. Don’t worry… You’re in luck!

“What should I wear?” is a very common question for most activities and events in your life, and it can feel even more daunting and confusing when you plan to take, display, share, and enjoy these pictures for years to come. First of all, breathe. You get dressed every day. You got this! Picking outfits for the whole family for an annual photo shoot should be fun! Here are 5 surefire tips for picking the best outfits for your photography session:

1. It begins with ONE

You’ll need a starting point, or an anchor as I like to think of it, to be successful. Start with dressing one person – I usually recommend the mom, parent or caregiver that has the biggest, most varied wardrobe. This person should think of what they are most comfortable in – is it jeans, a dress, a jumpsuit? With lifestyle family photo sessions, you can really wear anything. You just need to be undeniably yourself. Gravitate towards the clothing pieces that you know make you feel happy and confident. From here, you should begin branching out to other members in your family and apply the next four tips in the process.

2. Don’t Match, Coordinate Your Outfits

We’ve all read there is no need to all wear the same color (and it’s true!) but it is a good idea to have a cohesive color palette. Once you have your anchor outfit, note the colors within that outfit. For example, let’s say your go-to outfit is jeans with brown shoes, a subtle white and pink pattern shirt, and burgundy sweater. You already have your color palette: blue, brown, white, pink, burgundy. Every member does not have to wear every color!

Alternatively, hit up Pinterest, type in the predominant color in the anchor outfit with “color palette” and see what color palette appeals to you. All of my clients receive my color guide that includes my favorite color combinations and some example outfits for each member of your family. It takes the guesswork out of coordinating colors and palette’s so you can just focus on being you!

3. Shine Bright

The most important tip of all – and no, I am not going to recommend shimmer, sparkles or sequins – is making sure you are confident and comfortable! This translates into photographs and will affect the entire vibe of a photoshoot. Choose clothes that you adore, and make you feel like YOU! And the same goes for your family members as well.

Your clothes need to pass the “sit & bend test.” Meaning, skirts and dresses should be long and loose enough so you can comfortably sit or squat down during your photo session. Tops and blouses should allow you to bend over and lean in without undergarments showing. My favorite precious moments of connection are captured when the parents join their child(ren) on their level.

4.  We’re off to the “Same Event”

When styling the aesthetic for your outfits, it’s essential as a whole you look like you’re going to the same event, every one of you. If you miss this step, instead of seeing the joy and love, you’ll be left wondering why one person is ready for a ball and the other for a ball game. This is another place where choosing an anchor outfit can help to guide your choices for the rest of the family.  

Also, take into account what the pictures are going to be used for. Gallery Photo Wall? Décor? Christmas Cards? DIY Gift Ideas? Think about the formality of your clothing choices in relation to how you plan to put these amazing images to use! Do you want formal pictures on your wall? Or do you prefer more relaxed and light-hearted photographs?

5. Head to Toe Details

Now that you have your outfits styled for your family session, let’s not forget about your fingers and toes. Make sure your family members’ shoes are “going to the same event” and give them a quick wipe down to clean up any scuffs or stains (because, kids.) A magic eraser in a pinch can work well for scuffs on your kids’ sneakers. Your socks are likely to show at some point (or may be fully visible during in-home shoots), so make sure they don’t distract from the overall aesthetic. Try to steer clear of logos and stark white socks. For fingers, nail polish or no nail polish is fine. Go with whatever is your usual.

Here’s one hack for you that has come in handy during my years of photographing families, apply hand lotion just before the shoot – it gives unpolished nails just a bit of shine!

And there you have it – 5 tips from a professional photographer for what to wear to your next family photo session.

One BONUS Tip For Your Family Photography Shoot

It really can be fun to choose outfits that represent your family. It is absolutely NOT necessary to buy new clothing items or outfits for a photoshoot. I know, you have heard mixed messages about this. But trust an expert, it’s actually better to choose clothes that you have worn, that are comfortable and not stiff, and that you already know you love because they make you feel comfortable. Outfits that make you feel at home and cozy is the goal. Family photography at its’ core, is about capturing your family as you are in this very moment. The real you. The raw you.

I’d love to hear from you if incorporate these tips into your next session. Or feel free to head over to my contact form to connect about scheduling a New York family photoshoot together and we can put these tips into practice together. Let’s schedule your family session!