This is probably one of the topics that stress clients out the most, but I want to reassure you that choosing outfits for a family portrait session doesn't have to be stressful if you follow a few easy tips.  Also, please feel free to email or text me photos if you are having trouble deciding and I'd be happy to help.

1. Start with Mom.

Sometimes it's a good idea to start with your own outfit and make sure you feel comfortable in what you've chosen.  Start with your own closet first. What do you have that makes you feel good? Do be yourself. If you are a blue jeans kind of mom, then wear blue jeans.  Don't feel like you have to be fancy.  Be you.


2. Pick 2 - 3 colors & build outfits around those colors.

Don't wear fluorescent colors.  They can reflect onto skin tones. It also may be good to think about where you'd like to hang the photos when you choose your colors...will these colors look good hanging in your living room?  

Colors are truly a matter of personal choice, but I have consistently loved photos in which clients have worn jewel tones like blue, plum, teal, burgundy, mustard yellow, etc.




Smiling Family Of Four At Spring Hill TN Outdoor Portair SessionSmiling Family Of Four At Spring Hill TN Outdoor Portair Session 3. Make sure everyone is comfortable.

Make sure everyone feels comfortable in what they are wearing

Make sure everything fits appropriately....this is not the time for squeezing into something, or for buying clothes big so the kids can grow into them. 

Also, make sure everyone is happy with what they are wearing. We don't want the kids (or dad) to feel uncomfortable in their own skin. Coordinate, but also try to let their own personalities shine through.


4. Don't be afraid of Patterns

One good strategy is to put one person in a fun pattern, and then pull colors from that pattern to dress other members of the family. Patterns can add a lot of visual interest to a photo as long as you don't have everyone in competing patterns. 

5. Avoid distracting logos and giant bows.

Avoid graphics and distracting logos.  That "Big Brother" shirt is cute, but unless he's standing perfectly still, you won't be able to read it well in photos. 

This is my personal preference, but I don't like giant hair distracts from your daughter's beautiful face.  Smaller ones are great, BUT only if she wants to wear it. Let's not spend the entire session trying to force her to put her bow back on.

6. Add Texture

Consider scarves, jackets, accessories and other things that add texture & interest to the outfits. Sweaters (like cable knit) with texture are also great. Accessories are also a great way to let each individuals personality shine through in the photos. 

7. Coordinate, Don't Match

Choosing colors & patterns that coordinate well will look better, and more timeless, than having family members wear the exact same outfit.


8. Don't forget the little details

  • Careful of shirts that wrinkle too easily as those are hard to photoshop out (I see this a lot in men's dress shirts.)

  • Don't forget about your nails. (I often see chipped nail polish on little girls.)

  • Don't forget about shoes...especially for the little ones, who grow so fast they often may not have nice, un-scuffed shoes that fit.  If the weather is appropriate, barefoot is a good option for the kids.

  • If little girls are wearing dresses or skirts, please have bike shorts on underneath.

9. Dress for the weather.

And in Tennessee, that means dress for anything! No matter how beautiful your clothing is, if you are sweating profusely, or freezing your tail off, you won't look your best. Be prepared for various weather scenarios, especially for a Fall or Spring session when the weather can vary drastically.

Layers are great.  Have tights ready for little girls who plan to wear dresses.  For winter, be sure you think about coats, scarves, etc. I've had families who had gorgeous sessions where they rarely took off their coats. 

10. Expect your kids to run, jump and play.

If you've hired me to be your family photographer, then hopefully you are familiar with my style. This is not Sears portrait studio so expect that we are going to run, jump, play and have fun. That doesn't mean your kids can't dress nicely, but just be aware that our goal is to capture their personalities and the magic of childhood. If you are so worried about them getting mud on an expensive dress, that will hinder our magical moments. 


About those eyeglasses:

If you or your child wear glasses every day, then I believe they should wear the glasses in their photos. It's part of who they are.  However, please if you can all help it, don't wear transitional lenses to the photo session. We can't always control when they darken, and we want to be able to see those beautiful eyes. Bonus points if you can bring anti-glare lenses. 



I'm sometimes asked if it's OK to bring wardrobe changes. Ultimately, I leave that up to parents, but for family sessions, I strongly discourage it. (My seniors often bring a change of clothing or two, and that's totally fine.) 

I don't normally recommend a change of clothing for family photo sessions with younger kids because it can take away too much time and interrupt the "flow" of the session. We have a limited amount of time before the light runs out (or it's time for my next session), so we want to focus on having fun and capturing candid moments. If you really want variety in the outfits, I recommend choosing accessories that are quick to change or remove for a different look, such as hats, jackets, scarves, etc. 






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Want more inspiration?

Check out my Pinterest Board on what to wear to a family portrait session.