What to wear in family photos

Let’s just admit it: picking out what to wear for family photos is one of the most stressful parts of the process of getting them taken. Did you know that it doesn’t have to be? The next time you schedule your family for photos I want you to remember my…

Whattowearinfamilyphotos

    1. Think about where you will display prints of the photos. When my family gets our photos taken, the first thing I think of is where I’m going to place them in our home. Will I want them in my living room, hallway, bedroom etc.? This always affects my outfit choices. The color of my room choice for the photos can make a difference in the color scheme I choose for our outfits. I knew I wanted to put the photos we recently had taken in our living room, so I wanted to bring in the grays, blues and a pop of coral from that room into our outfits.
    2. Choose a location that matches your colors. Choosing a location can be tricky because the tones in your background can either compliment your clothing or be a huge distraction. To find the best balance between the colors in your location and the colors in your clothing, check out portrait locations in advance while thinking about the overall color scheme you’re going for. If you’re a reader wanting to see some locations in West, MI you can check out my other post on West Michigan portrait locations. If you’re really concerned about colors getting lost in the background or, on the flip-side, really clashing with the background, a good photographer will always be willing to offer you advice if you tell him or her the look you’re hoping for.IMG_7960
    3. Mom, choose your outfit (or the pickiest family member’s!) first. In our family I’m the toughest critic. I want to make sure I’m comfortable and feeling great during our photo session. In your case, there might be someone else in the family who needs to be the one to feel their best. This is the person who needs to pick out her outfit first. Choose an outfit that the pickiest family member loves and then use that as your starting point. Once that outfit is chosen, start picking out outfits for the other family members to coordinate well with that one.20247764_1470661919659961_8149764829820702203_o
    4. Limit the number of patterns in your clothing. Don’t get me wrong, patterns are a great way to coordinate outfits together because they typically contain a lot of colors that you can match the rest of your outfits too.  However, patterns can be overwhelming and chaotic if you have multiple people wearing them.  If you choose to use patterns, it is best to have one person wearing a pattern and the other family members wearing complimentary solids. Also, skip the characters. Yes, your little one may love their Frozen shirt, but you may want to skip it for the family photo session. Just like patterns, characters on shirts can be pretty distracting.IMG_7973
    5. Coordinate, but don’t match. Having your outfits coordinate does not mean that everyone has to wear the exact same thing.  Having everyone in a different outfit that still coordinates allows for a pleasing photograph. Recently I laid out clothes for my husband and son for a family photoshoot. Both of their shirts were the same color gray, and the shirts just felt like they were missing something. I decided to look for a darker gray for my husband, and transitioned to something similar for my son that gave he and my husband individuality instead of fading into the background.
    6. Keep your clothing low maintenance. Does your little one hate wearing headbands?  Do you love a certain shirt but always find yourself fussing with it?  Make sure you eliminate outfits that could potentially cause problems during your session.  Even though that headband might be darling on your daughter, if she hates wearing it she is going to be miserable…and miserable in your photographs.  Once you show up to your session, the only thing you want to focus on is having fun and being yourself.20247548_1470659302993556_1924092169243457984_o
    7. Have a pop of color. Creatively incorporating color into your family’s wardrobe is a great way to draw interest into your photographs.  Whether you utilize color in someone’s shirt or in a hair bow, having a pop of color can be very pleasing to the eye when you are arranging what to wear for family photos.  Even choosing something as subtle as your earrings to incorporate color can make such a great difference. One thing you’ll want to avoid when adding color is neon. Neon colors can create color casts on your skin.  This means that the bright neon color will reflect on your skin and turn it an unnatural color.
    8. Accessorize. Accessories are a great way of adding interest to your family portraits.  If you are not one who likes using a pop of color in a big way, using accessories like a  great pair of earrings or a necklace is a great way to still add a pop to your photographs.  Accessories are also a wonderful way to incorporate textures and help coordinate your outfits. My favorite store to find the best accessories is Charming Charlie, where you can find jewelry in almost any color. (If you’re not as lucky as me to have one by you, you can also purchase from their online store.20294231_1470662086326611_3208619449138226922_n
    9. Mix textures. Having everyone wear a variety of textures can help create depth in your photographs and is a great way of incorporating a variety of tones.  Some textures you can mix are varieties like cotton, denim, tweed and lace. Wearing different textures is also a wonderful way to portray your personality through your photographs. For example, dressing a little girl in a lace dress can enhance her sweet and precious demeanor, while denim can show off her more casual side.
    10. Plan ahead. Once you book your session, start thinking of the clothes right away. Make sure to try on your chosen outfits to ensure they fit properly, and then set them aside so they are clean and fresh the day of your shoot. If you wait until the day or the day before the session to prepare your clothing, you may run into an issue of clothes not fitting or needing to be dry cleaned.

      Having trouble finding the right outfits for your color scheme or desired look? Visit Polyvore and place clothing and textures together on an online board to find what looks best. Also, visit my Pinterest board for ideas on outfits you can layer together for family photos. Lastly, don’t forget that you can always swing ideas and questions by your photographer before the shoot.
      I hope the next time you plan your photo session my 10 tips on what to wear can be helpful. I’d love to hear your feedback on this post or others. Has this blog post helped you? Do you have something else you want to know? Comment below.

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Special thanks to my girl at Katie Cook Photography for our family photos.


Are you interested in scheduling a family session with Kara Hanes Photography? Fill out the contact form and immediately receive information about Kara, her style and pricing information. Not ready for a session? That’s okay, stay up to date with Kara Hanes Photography by joining the e-mail list.

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