What to Wear for Your Family Session

You’ve booked your family photos! The date is on the calendar. The stars have somehow aligned and you have managed to get everyone’s schedules coordinated to be together for a photo session.

Now, what on earth is everyone going to wear?! The most-asked question I get! We all want our family photos to look as amazing as possible, and we know that what we wear really effects the overall look of our photos. So, how to decide? The following paragraphs contain my best tips for what to wear to your family session, as well as some photo examples.

When choosing outfits for everyone – pick what you love! And what matches your style. You don’t have to look like any other family, and your family photos don’t have to look exactly like someone else’s either, unless you want them to. 😉

Mom first

Mom is usually the one who wants family pictures the most, books the family pictures, and stresses about the family pictures. And chances are, if you’re reading this, you’re the mom. And you should feel like you look your very best!

One suggestion I have for picking outfits is to choose yours first. Pick something that you feel awesome in, or that you always get compliments on. Pick something that flatters your shape and makes you feel gorgeous! Then, plan everyone else’s outfits around it.


Lethbridge family photographer Kinsey Holt Photography

Be Comfortable

During your family session, I will most likely ask you to do some standing poses and also sitting poses. You might be walking, or throwing a child up in the air. Wear something that you won’t have to be tugging back into place after bending or sitting. If you love a certain top, but you feel like you have to be constantly sucking in while wearing it, I would strongly suggest choosing something different. If you are worried about your shirt coming up when you lift your arms, and you don’t want any flashes of belly skin, then wear something with more length or layer something underneath.

Whatever outfit you choose, look in a mirror and squat, bend and reach for the sky to make sure you can move comfortably!


Plan Ahead

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I’ve done it both ways! I’ve started planning a couple of weeks ahead, and I’ve waited until the last minute. And family pictures are SO much less stressful when you already have everyone’s outfits laid out the day before, and took the time to plan them out ahead of time.

I would start a couple of weeks ahead so you give yourself time to get laundry done, and go shopping for any last-minute things you might need. I’m not saying everyone needs whole new outfits (although that would be fun!), but sometimes as a mom I don’t realize how quickly my kids are growing, and I go to put a certain pair of pants on, only to find they are too short or too tight. The same goes for shoes, and a child in too-small shoes is not a happy child for photos.



Choose a Color Scheme

A color scheme will help you narrow down your options, and make your outfits all fit together. One idea for choosing a color scheme is to look at the colors in your home where you plan to display the photos – dressing in similar colors will make any photos blend right in.

When choosing a color scheme, I typically pick similarly-toned colors, ie. all pastels, or all jewel-tones. This way no one clashes even if they’re not wearing the same colors. I usually make sure I include a neutral, i.e. grey or tan. I’ve tried to include a variety of color schemes in this guide for inspiration!

Still at a loss? Type in “color scheme” on Pinterest! Or search for family photos and look at what clothing choices you love.


Lethbridge family photographer Kinsey Holt Photography


Add Texture and Layers

Texture photographs really well – a lace or eyelet top, or ruffles on a top or cardigan, are examples of texture. Little extra details on a top like buttons or gathers add a bit of interest and break up solid colors. In the photos above, my top and my one daughter’s skirt are an eyelet-type fabric.

Layers also photograph really well – a jacket or cardigan, or just layering two shirts for guys (i.e. t-shirt under button-up). Scarves are another option, especially in cooler weather.

Add another layer with accessories – a belt, necklace, earrings, bracelets. I recommend using at least three pieces of jewellry – for example, earrings, a bracelet and a ring.



Lay It All Out

When I am choosing outfits, my bed is usually covered in clothes. I’m a visual person and it helps to see it all together. After deciding what colors I want everyone to wear, or when I have a couple of possibilities in mind, I go through everyone’s closets and grab anything that goes with the color scheme. Then I start laying out outfits until it looks like I have a good balance of the colors, and no one color is dominating too much. I take a picture of each possibility so I can compare and make a final decision. Then I set the outfits I have chosen aside, so that no one can wear them and get them dirty before family pictures!


Using Pattern

I recommend using patterns that are a little more on the subtle side. Skinnier stripes or smaller-scale florals or polka dots ensure that the attention is on faces, not one person’s outfit. Avoid logos at all costs!

When incorporating patterns, have a few family members in patterns, but not everyone. The mix of pattern and solid colors keeps you looking cohesive, yet not matchy-matchy. Mix up how you use the colors from your color scheme in your tops and bottoms. Often, denim is the choice for bottoms. One person could be wearing pants or a skirt in one of your chosen colors to mix it up and make it a little more interesting.


Lethbridge family photographer Kinsey Holt Photography

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