Wondering what to wear for family photos? No worries – I’ve got you! Figuring out outfits for family photos can seem like a daunting task, especially if you’re like me and you don’t particularly care about fashion (let’s be honest, I’ll wear black leggings and a black shirt and sweater every day for the rest of my life and I’d be a thousand percent okay with that). With that being said, I have my favourite set of tips at the bottom of this article for those who are just like me!
What to Wear for Family Photos: A Note about Bodies
First, I want to acknowledge that all bodies are good bodies. It doesn’t matter how you’re dressing; whether it’s something shorter and tighter fitting or long and flowy, all bodies are good bodies and deserve to be photographed. We don’t believe in artificially manipulating peoples bodies with photoshop, it is absolutely not our place to judge whether your body is good enough so please, do not rely on “photoshop” to be the final touch on your outfit and don’t pick outfits to “hide” areas that you feel are problems. Lifestyle photography is not posed which means you’re going to be photographed from many angles so choose clothing that you feel comfortable in, that you feel beautiful in and that you feel like you and move in. You are perfect exactly as you are and your family loves you!!
Neutrals + low key colours
Neutrals and toned down, muted colours are classic not only for esthetics but also for home decor. What does home decor have to do with wardrobe? I’m glad to asked – when you’re choosing what to wear for family photos you need to factor in what you’re going to do with your photos and where they’re going to be displayed. Photos that contain people wearing neutral and muted colours will work for any room that you want to display your photos in. They’re also universally flattering on skin tones and work well in a variety of locations.
Think colour palette instead of ‘matchy match’
When we say neutrals, we don’t mean that the entire family has to wear beige! Choosing a colour palette to work with helps add richness and depth to the colour scheme in your images. You can always try to do a google search for “warm neutral colour palettes” or “cool neutral colour palettes” to see what comes up.
Below are my favourite neutral colour palettes – both palettes are exactly the same, just the background is different. I did this to illustrate just how much your surrounding can impact the colours you’re choosing. If we’ll be shooting in a darker area, like within a forest or rustic cottage, use the dark inspiration board. If we’ll be shooting somewhere lighter and brighter, like a beach or a modern home, use the light palette for inspiration.
Movement + Length
Dresses make for beautiful movement in photos; there’s nothing more beautiful than a flowing dress! If you’re going to opt for a dress, consider going long instead of short and flowing instead of form fitted. Shorter dresses, even knee length ones, can restrict movement and posing options in adults and for children, a short dress can often ride up and we don’t want undergarments to show! Think “flowy fabric” and you’ll be set!
Shoes are optional
I adore shooting on the beach and honestly – shoes are options there! Barefoot sessions always lead to more exploration and adventure. If you do want to wear shoes, make sure that what you’re wearing is appropriate for your outfit and for the location. Avoid high heels if we’ll be on rocky terrain and leave the old worn out, ratty sneakers at home.
The Limit List
There are certain things that you should be limiting or adding to a flat out “Nope, that doesn’t work” list. First – limit your urge to pick a “kinda fancy” business casual outfit. Depending on what generation you grew up in, you may want to default to a dress and cardigan or slacks and a button up shirt as your wardrobe (that’s what Sears said was cool!) but the vibe these outfits have makes things seem too formal. You should also limit clothing to only items that fit you properly and don’t require constant fidgeting or adjusting. This means that if you have something that occasionally shows bra straps and you don’t want that in your photos, then opt for a strapless bra or a different top.
Bulky scarves are another no-no, they often hide chins and jawlines and can make you look like a ‘floating head’. Extremely bold patterns on multiple people as well as super bright colours should also be limited or avoided.
Factor in location
Think about how your outfit choice is appropriate for your location. If we’re opting for a cozy in-home session, everyone wearing plaid or buffalo print may seem out of place if your decor and esthetic don’t match that rustic vibe. Match rustic with rustic, modern with modern, etc. Not sure what the vibe or your session is going to be? Let’s chat and help you figure out what to wear for family photos!
When you’re choosing what to wear for family photos you should be doing this shortly after you book your session, not right before the session date. Planning ahead gives you time to either borrow, thrift for or shop for items to create your wardrobe. Many families will use Facebook community groups or parent groups to ask about items to borrow or purchase second hand and some families prefer to purchase directly from stores. In Canada, I like to recommend Zara and Old Navy as they often have a wide variety of clothing available in various colour palettes (although this change with the seasons).
What to Wear for Family Photos: For the Fashion Impared
Does all of the above sound overwhelming to you? I feel ya – that was me when I planned my first photoshoot with my own family (and I am a photographer!) so this is what I did:
First, find some stores that have great neutral fashion and use those as a starting point. My favourites are:
Second, I find my favourite colour scheme (likes the ones I shared earlier in the article) and I just start opening a bunch of tabs of clothing that fits the colour scheme. Yes – I shopped this way even before the pandemic!
Finally, once I have a bazillion tabs open for myself and everyone in my family, I start to narrow it down.
When the final outfits are the only tabs left, they go in the cart and we’re all done! Even prior to COVID, not all stores carry everything (or every size) and online ordering is a normal thing. This is why you should always be planning your outfits ahead of time to allow for shipping times.
If you’re shopping in store, you can also just show a sales clerk your colour palette and trust their judgement in elements they select for you!