What should I wear for family photos?

So you’ve booked your family portrait session (or maybe you’re still considering booking one) and now you need help deciding what you’re all going to wear. This task can be daunting if you don’t know where to start, but don’t worry, I’ve broken the process down here to help you decide what to wear for your family portrait session.

What to wear for your family portrait photography shoot in Monterey, Ca.

Step 1: Consider the background

In the Monterey and Carmel area, we are very lucky to have great family portrait locations. Where will you be taking your family photos? What is it like this time of year? Choose a color palette that will be complemented by the scenery. For example, pastels look great at the beach, but rich jewel tones would look better in the forest. Warm tones look great in the fall, but probably not the best pick for spring.

Step 2: Consider your home decor

It’s likely that your photos will end up printed and hanging up in your home. Look in rooms where you’ll have your photos displayed. What colors do you see? What colors would compliment them nicely? Oftentimes the colors around your home are your favorite colors too!

Step 3: How fancy do you want to get?

Dressing up for family photos is a great idea, but if you’re a very casual family and would feel uncomfortable in dressier clothing, consider more casual options instead.

Step 4: Coordinate instead of matching

Gone are the days of everyone in white button-up shirts and jeans! Choose a color story based on the considerations above. Choose your main color, a couple of neutrals, and perhaps a complementary color as a color pop. You don’t have to avoid patterns completely, just be careful with them. Fabric with texture is great too, such as lace, cable knit, corduroy, etc..

Step 5: Mom gets the first pick

Whoever plans the outfits gets the first pick! Typically this is you, mom, and you are putting in enough work to plan this photo shoot, so choose what you’d like to wear first.

Step 6: Lay it all out

Lay everything out on the bed or couch and take a look. If your eye is drawn to a certain piece that you find distracting, switch it out. Repeat until you’re happy with what’s in front of you.

Step 7: Try it on

And not just in a dressing room. Have everyone try on their outfit and move around in it a little. If anyone is uncomfortable and tugging on something or complaining that something itches, they’ll likely be doing it during the session too.

Step 8: Keep it all in one place.

Once you’ve gone through all the work of choosing your outfits, we wouldn’t want anything to get dirty or go missing! Keep everything hanging together in your closet until the day of your photo shoot.

Go to outfit ideas

Family portrait style for photography in Carmel, California.

Mom – Full-length maxi dresses and skirts are so flattering. I can’t think of anyone they wouldn’t look great on! If dresses really aren’t your thing, try jeans or pants in a neutral shade and a well-fitted top. Add accessories and layers. A cardigan, scarf or statement necklace can add an element of fun. For footwear, boots, flats or sandals all work. If you’re planning to wear shoes that are not comfortable to walk in, please bring a pair of flip-flops or slide-on shoes to wear as we walk from place to place.

Dad – Collared shirts or sweaters are preferred. Nothing with a large logo. I suggest neutral colored pants or jeans. Shoes should be on the nicer side; nothing you’d wear to the gym! 🙂

Boys – Collared shirts or sweaters and neutral colored pants or jeans. Bowties are always extra adorable and highly encouraged. Shoes should be clean and coordinate with the outfit.

Girls – Dresses or skirts are always adorable, but if your girl prefers pants or jeans, that’s ok too! Make sure she’s wearing tights or shorts underneath a dress or skirt, as we will likely be playing and running around. Headbands and a great accessory and they also do double duty to keep hair out of the face.

Toddlers & Babies – It’s easy to dress tiny humans in cute clothes! Just be sure it’s nothing too bulky (overalls, vests, collars, ruffles) that will ride up and cover their faces. Shoes are optional. And make sure diapers are completely covered!

What NOT to wear:

  1. No bright white. White blows out in photos and loses detail. Go for a cream instead.
  2. No neon.
  3. Be careful with patterns. Make sure any patterns are bold enough to be seen from far away, and that they don’t clash with any other patterns in the group.
  4. No logos or screen prints (i.e., superhero t-shirts, logo tees, etc).
  5. Matchy-matchy. Don’t wear the same exact shade of color as someone else or you’ll blend together.
  6. Avoid overly trendy, as it will look dated years down the road.

A few last tips…

Best family portrait photography in Carmel Valley, California.
  1. Stay true to your style – We want you to look like YOU!
  2. Use Pinterest – just search “family portraits” and a zillion ideas will pop up.
  3. Shop your closet first – It’s very likely that most of the items, if not everything, your family needs are right there in your closet already.
  4. One-stop Shops – Lots of stores have clothing for the whole family have similar collections that coordinate. Try Old Navy, Gap, Target, etc. This makes it easy to find colors and styles that look good together.
  5. Have fun with it! 🙂

And last but not least, please send me photos! If you’re stuck with anything at all, I am happy to make my recommendation.

Have fun styling!

If you haven’t already booked your family portrait session with me, click here to get in touch!

May 28, 2019

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