Orange County family photographer: What to wear to a family photo session

May 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment


What to wear is probably the most common question I get asked before photo sessions, so I've pulled a blog post together about it to make choosing your outfit(s) a little easier.


As much as my photography style is pretty relaxed, the reason that works is the thought that goes in beforehand, and part of that is considering about your wardrobe… much as I hate to admit it, outfits can make or break a photo session! Gone are the days of everybody in the family wearing perfectly matched uniforms, and instead, you can make your artwork look it’s best by choosing outfits for your family that compliment and work well together.


Here are a few thoughts to keep in mind when you are planning what to wear for your session.


Above all, wear something that you are comfortable in – chose an outfit that makes you feel great! If you choose something that doesn’t feel right from the get-go, it will show in your face. So choose something that will let the best of your personality shine through. If you feel awesome, you’ll look awesome!

Laguna Beach family session

A tight color palette makes you look part of the same family, without being too matchy-matchy. The blues and whites complimented the natural environment for this beach session. We spent time going through wardrobe options and choosing outfits as part of the pre-session consultation - it's all part of the service, so if you're struggling with your clothing selection, let me know.

Avoid logos, slogans and cartoon characters – they date quickly, can detract from the overall look, and they can look odd if they’re not perfectly lined up at the right angle in your photograph.

Choose a style that works across your whole family – do you want to look casual, classic, dressy, or glam? Choose outfits that fit into your chosen genre for the whole family.

Color is good! Choose colors that bring out the personality of your family. Unless you are aiming for the rainbow effect, it works well to limit your palette to three colors, at least one of which should be a neutral, and dress the whole family in tones of those choices. You can add a dash of interest with a fourth accent color, in a couple of splashes.  


Soft neutrals and pastels mixed with a couple of bolder dashes - perfect for a relaxed beach session; choose a style that reflects the family as a whole, and then tweak it to reflect the individual personalities.

Another thing to keep in mind when choosing your colors is to think about the location – of both your final artwork and the photography session. Choose outfits which compliment these areas.

Layers and texture works great – use some patterns (small patterns work much better than larger bolder ones), choose fabrics with interesting textures and layer up to add further interest as well as the ability to add/remove to change the look during your session. Accessories are great for adding texture or a little bit of interest too - top it with a hat!

Don’t leave mom to the last minute – it’s so easy to get carried away over what your precious off spring will wear and then leave your own outfit choice to the last minute. Make sure you think about what you want to wear, and spend a bit of time pampering so that your hair and makeup looks the way you want it to.  You’re the jewel at the center of the family – so lets see your sparkle!


In the creative world, rules are meant to be broken - if any of the above just doesn't sit well with your family's style, let's throw caution to the wind! 


Where to start

Don’ know where to start? You’ve got a couple of options here

  • You might have an amazing outfit that you are dying to wear (or dress your kid in), in which case, make that the center of your outfit choice, and work out from there
  • Have a look online – pinterest is stuffed full of ideas for family outfits and color combinations for photo shoots you can find my Pinterest what to wear for a photo shoot inspiration board here:
  • Pick a favorite painting – chances are it will have a fairly selective color palette – and use that as your inspiration
  • Take a shopping trip – see which color combinations are big in the store windows at the moment

Once you have an idea of the direction you are going in, visit Polyvore – it’s a fantastic online tool that allows you to pull different clothing combinations together onto a board. You can limit your search by color, or price. Here’s a set that I just pulled together below to get you started – be warned it’s pretty addictive!

Lastly, the clothes for your photo session don’t need to cost you the earth… start with what you already have, borrow from friends, and the boards I pulled together are from easily accessible, reasonably priced chains that you can find all over the US, such as Gap, Old Navy, H&M.


If you’re struggling –pick up the phone and give me a call or we can talk it over during your pre-session consultation… I’m here to help make your session everything you dream it could be.


Here’s links to a couple of other articles and information from around the web on what to wear for photo sessions that I really love:


No comments posted.