What To Wear For A Family Photo Shoot

You’ve got the session booked but you have no idea what to wear for a family photo shoot!?

“What should we wear” is the most common question I hear from my clients. 

It’s important, but it doesn’t have to be all that difficult. 

Just use these basic guidelines and your whole family will look great. 

Family wearing various variations of blue clothes on Point Pleasant Beach, NJ with a dramatic sunset sky for a family portrait by LaGregor Photography

Think About It Ahead of Time

A family portrait is an investment. You are investing your time and money to create a lasting piece of artwork that will hopefully be hanging on your wall for years to come. Don’t wait until the night before to pick out some clothes for everyone in the family. 

For more tips about preparing for your upcoming family photo, check out 5 Ways To Prepare For Your Family Photo.

Talk to Your Photographer

Your photographer is a great resource. Don’t forget to use them. I am not an expert on fashion, but I can tell you what colors look great together in photos, what patterns look weird, and whether the outfit you picked seems to be a good fit for the type of portrait you had in mind. Some of my clients even send me photos of potential outfits they have chosen for their kids or themselves. I am always happy to take a look and offer some insight. In fact, it almost always turns out that the discussion makes the portrait better overall. Even if I don’t suggest any changes to the clothes, it helps me know the kind of look the client is going for and I can plan accordingly. 

Good communication always produces better results and the same is true when choosing what to wear.

Show Off Your Family’s Style

Your family or individual portrait is about you and/or your family. Make sure the results reflect that. Many of my clients give great consideration to the location, making sure its a place that means something to them, but they forget to do the same with their attire. If your family personality is jeans and hooded sweatshirts, then go for it! There is no rule that a portrait has to be formal. In fact, choosing clothes that reflect who you are will result in better photos that have more meaning to you. 

family on Point Pleasant, NJ beach under a palm tree in jeans and hooded sweatshirts or hoodies for a family portrait by LaGregor Photography

Try To Coordinate Instead of Match

Everyone in the family does not have to have matching shirts. They don’t even have to be wearing the same color, although that can work really well. However, it is important that the colors and styles go together. This is one specific area where your photographer can help. Selecting colors that go well together is something every good photographer should be well versed in. If you want to learn more about how different colors blend together, do a web search for “color theory in photography.” It can be a little technical, which is why its helpful to ask your photographer, but just a little knowledge on the subject can go a long way.

You also want the styles of clothing to go together. Don’t dress the children in more formal clothing and then have the adults in jeans and a t-shirt. Again, this doesn’t mean everyone should be wearing the same thing, just that you should give some consideration to whether or not they belong in a photo together.

Be Comfortable

You can’t look your best if you are uncomfortable. Especially with young kids, you may want to rethink the elaborate and potentially uncomfortable outfits and go with something that the kids will want to wear for more than 15 minutes. Also, keep in mind that the best photos of children usually happen when they are unaware of the camera and just playing and being themselves. Uncomfortable clothes prevent that from happening.  

Avoid Crazy Colors

Have a neon green shirt that you love? Maybe leave it out of the family portrait. Ok, so its not the 80s anymore and the chances of a family showing up to a portrait session completely decked out in neon colors is pretty slim, BUT I feel like I should mention it. Even if it isn’t neon, some really bold colors just don’t work all that great on camera.

If you plan to go with some really bold colors, let your photographer know. I would never tell a client that can’t wear colors that they want, but if I know ahead of time, there are certain things I can do to (mostly with the way I will light the shots) to make sure the photos turn out the way you want them to.

Keep The Designs Simple

Keep it simple! Your family or individual portrait should be about you, not about the clothes. Crazy patterns or huge logos turn it into a photo of the outfit rather than a photo of the person. This might be great if you’re modeling for a fashion designer, but not really what you want for the family photo canvas on your wall.  

Get Clothes that Fit

This goes without saying for the adults, but it is also important to keep this in mind for the kids too. It’s  pretty common to buy clothes a little oversized so that your children can grow into them. Try to avoid that when choosing kids’ clothes for the portrait. You don’t want big baggy clothes on the kids for that canvas that will be hanging over the fireplace for the next 10 years. Too small is no good either, but that is usually more obvious. 

The Location

When choosing the clothes, remember to take into consideration where the shoot will be taking place.  Shorts and t-shirts may look great on the beach, but not so much in a park with the leaves changing colors. Similarly, jeans and sweaters look out of place on the beach, even if you are shooting at the Jersey Shore in November.

You also want to consider the colors in the location you are shooting. A beach, for example, is mostly neutral colors like beige sand and light blue water and sky, so you can add some bold colors to your wardrobe and it will look great. But add those same bold accents to a fall shoot with orange, red, and yellow leaves and you will have the opposite effect. Your goal should be to make the people in the photo stand out against the background.

If you need some help finding a great location in Monmouth County, check out my Top 10 Portrait Spots.

Add Accents

Bold colors are great and can really add a dynamic look to a portrait. But too much of a bold color can dominate a photo and take the attention away from the people in it. This is why I always encourage my clients to pick neutral colors to wear and add bold colored accents such as a scarf for women, a shirt that is covered by a blazer or jacket for men, or a bold pair of shorts with a more subdued shirt. There are probably hundreds more options that you can think of. Feel free to add a comment below to share your ideas.  

I hope this helps you plan for your next family portrait. You can learn more about my portrait sessions HERE

If you think there is something I can add to this list or you have any questions, let me know in the comments below. 

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Family wearing bold colors with the mom wearing a bright orange scarf as an accent on Long Branch, NJ beach for a family portrait by LaGregor Photography