What to wear for your photo shoot.

One of the most common questions I get asked before a photo shoot is “what should we wear?”

I wish I could give you one simple set answer but I can’t! And that’s the beauty of getting your portraits done – every session reflects the uniqueness of the family or individual. You want to be comfortable enough to move around and not feel awkward but at the same time you are investing in something that will last longer than your lifetime so you want to make sure to put some care into your appearance as well. Clean and unwrinkled clothes are important! And having some sort of uniformity for all of the people in the photos is a good idea too. Does this mean you should all wear matching track suits? Of course not 😉 However you probably don’t want one person in plaid, another in stripes and a third in polka dots.

While I can’t tell you exactly what to wear, here are some suggestions that I do have:

1. You don’t have to be matchy-matchy.

When people think family photos, a lot of times they think all white or all black shirts with jeans. While this can be a good look for some circumstances, some of the best family photo sessions I’ve done have had multiple colors in them. As long as the colors are complimentary it works!

This family got it right with various shades of grey, black, white, and purple.

This family got it right with various shades of grey, black, white, and purple.

2. Dress appropriately for the season and the weather. 

If you realllllly want to do a photo shoot in that cute little sundress that you have, then don’t do it in December. You will  look cold and it won’t look right.

Scarves, beanies and boots are perfect for family Christmas photos!

Scarves, beanies and boots are perfect for family Christmas photos!

3. Have fun playing with contrasting ideas and themes.

Have fun with your wardrobe! One of my favorite family sessions was one where the parents dressed the kids in semi-formal duds but with a slightly disheveled look and let them run wild. Think shirt and tie but untucked with sandals or a pretty dress with wild color streaks in your hair. When kids are having fun it really shows in your pictures.

Get that family shot done and then let the kids play! Moments like this fly by quickly but with the right photos you can capture the feeling forever.

Get that family shot done and then let the kids play! Moments like this fly by quickly but with the right photos you can capture the feeling forever.

4. Accessorize! 

Wear a fun hat, a colorful scarf, put a flower in your hair. Accessories can really make a photo stand apart from the others and are a great way to show your individuality.

The same scarf in different colors and opposite colored shirts with fun earrings and a funky flower hair clip are great examples of spicing up your shoot with some neat accessories.

The same scarf in different colors and opposite colored shirts with fun earrings and a funky flower hair clip are great examples of spicing up your shoot with some neat accessories.

5. Consider your setting. 

You don’t want to wear a suit and tie to a photo shoot at a barn and on the other hand you wouldn’t want to wear a spaghetti strap tank top for a professional head shot. Consider who the photos are for and where the shoot will be.

Casual jeans with nice shirts, boots, and lightweight jackets are perfect for fall and winter shoots in a park.

Casual jeans with nice shirts, boots, and lightweight jackets are perfect for fall and winter shoots in a park.

6. Use a funky pattern.

Patterns and prints are in right now and can look really awesome when paired with neutrals and a quiet background. A lot of people think that they have to stick with solid colors for their photo shoot wardrobe but if you throw that idea out the window the possibilities are endless!

Navajo inspired prints are very in right now and will look ultra cool when your grandkids are looking back at old family photos.

Navajo inspired prints are very in right now and will look ultra cool when your grandkids are looking back at old family photos.

7. When in doubt, pops of red are fabulous.

If you are really clueless as to what to wear and want to do something different, adding pops of red to an otherwise neutral color scheme stands out really well and always looks good in photos.

Bright pops of red can really brighten up a drab winter backdrop.

Bright pops of red can really brighten up a drab winter backdrop.

8. Consider where you want to hang your pictures.

This is also important when choosing a setting for your photos. If you are planning on hanging your photos in the dining room and your dining room is decorated in orange and grey, you probably don’t want to take your family photos in red. Likewise, if you plan to do a wall of black and white prints then the look of them will change considerably depending on whether you are dressed in black or white. Wear white for high key photos and black for darker contrast. Think about how you want to frame them and lay them out and where they will go and then plan accordingly.

Keep the color scheme of your home (or your wedding for save the dates) in mind when choosing outfits for your photo shoot.

Keep the color scheme of your home (or your wedding for save the dates) in mind when choosing outfits for your photo shoot.

10. When all else fails, basic is best. 

And last but not least, if you are really struggling to figure this out, if you are dealing with uncooperative family members or just totally unsure what you plan to do with the pictures – don’t underestimate the power of neutrals! They can be mixed and matched or not planned at all and still work out perfectly. Not to mention it is a lot easier to coordinate between family members who may not be coming from the same place.

When coordinating family members who don't live together, are different sexes and whose ages span quite a few years, neutral and casual clothing provides the perfect solution for what to wear.

When coordinating family members who don’t live together, are different sexes and whose ages span quite a few years, neutral and casual clothing provides the perfect solution for what to wear.

All in all,  you want your photo session to be fun and not stressful. Hopefully this post gave you some good ideas and I always tell my clients that the BEST way to get inspiration is to look at other people’s photos! Google some family portrait ideas or look on Pinterest. The internet is loaded with tons of great ideas.

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