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What to Wear for Family Portraits

what to wear for family portaits

Figuring out what to wear for family portraits can be super stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. As a mom of 3, I know all too well how hard it can be to get your family on board for family pictures, much less coordinate everyone’s outfits. We all want that Pinterest board worth family photo, and we all know it starts with the family photo outfits. I have to be honest, family photo outfit ideas have been a stressful thing for me in the past, which is why I thought this guide was important. Us mamas have to stick together and help each other out, right?

Keep reading to for my general tips on what to wear for family portraits!

What to Wear for a Family Photo Session

Tip 1: Avoid Distracting Patterns

We’ve seen a lot of family photos throughout the years that show an entire family wearing the same pattern. Some pictures turn out alright, while others have been downright scary. You might think you’ll be able to pull exact matching outfits off with your family, but in reality, that’s rarely the case.

When the entire family wears matching colors/patterns like floral patterns, buffalo plaid, and other bold patterns, it can detract from the individuality of each family member and make the pictures look busy. Instead, choose an overall color pallet that will flatter each family member differently. Using accent colors to tie your family outfits together and using different textures is the way to go.

Tip 2: Choose Mom’s Outfit First

Whether or not Mom is the one planning the family portraits, makes sure her outfit is chosen first. Ladies always feel the most pressure when choosing outfits, so make it easy on yourself and pick the right clothing for mom first, and then build everyone’s different looks off of mom’s dress or outfit. Once your outfit is put together, it will be that much easier to dress the rest of the family.

Another important aspect of this to remember is how your emotions will effect the rest of the family. Moms are often the glue that holds these types of events together. If you leave your outfit for last and choose an outfit you feel insecure in, those emotions could trickle down to the rest of the family and cause anxiety or obstinance in your children.   

Tip 3: Coordinate with the Color Scheme of Your Family Photo Shoot Destination

When deciding what to wear for family portraits, it’s important to think about the color scheme of your photoshoot location. The two ideas might seem unrelated, but they’re actually not. You want to make sure that the aesthetic in your family portraits matches that of your background. For example, if you are doing Fall family photos and there will be falling leaves in the background, make sure your outfits compliment those fall colors for a cohesive look. Similarly, if you are taking outdoor pictures in the spring, wearing winter colors of earth tones would wash out your family and draw people’s eyes to the background rather than to your family.

Of course, if you’re planning on doing your photoshoot indoors with a simple background, this rule won’t necessarily apply. As long as you choose a background that goes with the color scheme of your outfits and vice versa, you’ll be good to go. 

Tip 4: Choose a Texture that Fits Your Location

When you’re planning what to wear for family portraits, color isn’t the only aspect of your clothes to keep in mind. The material you choose can bring visual interest to your photos. If you take your portraits taken outdoors, and your entire family is wearing flat cotton or polyester, it may not translate well in the photo.

Don’t be afraid to mix and match textures. Playing with fabrics like wool, satin, velvet, linen, knit, and waffle is a great way to add a ton of dimension and make you and your family stand out from whatever background you choose. 

Tip 5: Talk to Your Photographer About Your Outfits

No, professional photographers are not stylists, however they do know a lot about the best way to style a photo. If you’re having a studio session, they can give you pointers on the best choices for their backdrops and lighting. If you’re doing a photoshoot on location, they can also help you choose the best colors and different patterns that will look best on camera. Plus, remember, they do this all the time and see all the different outfits that families show up in. They know what works and what doesn’t. It’s always a good idea to consult your photographer about your outfits.

Tip 6: Avoid Large Graphics and Big Logos

A family photo is not the right place for things like a big unicorn on a little girls shirt, or a big mickey face on your toddler’s outfit (unless you’re going with a Disney theme, in which case, go all the way). Large logos and graphics are distracting. It’s best to choose a main color for your colour scheme, then a couple of colors that can be accents (or different shades). Keep neutral colors for a cohesive family look.

Tip 7: Don’t Forget to Have Fun and Bribe Your Children

No matter what your location, color palette, fabrics, or patterns end up being, the most important thing to remember is that there are no hard rules. Family photos can be stressful and not much fun. Capturing your family’s personality and just the fact that you are together should be the focal point. If everything else goes awry, just remember to laugh. Okay, as a mom, I realize that is probably crap advice because if you just paid big bucks for a photographer, your family’s outfits and bribed your small children to cooperate, you just want a great picture out of the deal. I feel you, mamas. So, let me amend this to try to have fun and bribe those children good, may the photo Gods be with you.

I hope these tips help you find the perfect outfit for yourself and your whole clan for your family portrait sessions. I leave you with one last mom hack: if all else fails and your children don’t cooperate, just turn it into a funny photoshoot where you’re all making crazy faces and losing your minds, then shoot for internet fame. You can’t lose either way.

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