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My Ultimate Guide to Choose the Perfect Family Photo Outfits!

November 15, 2023

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Capturing family moments through photographs is a beautiful tradition that people cherish and is one of my favorite things to photograph. These pictures become part of family albums and often find their way onto walls, holiday cards, and on social media. I love to see your happy faces fill my feed!

So, it probably won’t be a surprise to know that my most common question is: What should we wear? This guide will help you pick the perfect family photo outfits and more for a flawless family portrait, no matter if you have just a few people in your family or a larger family to consider.

Here’s my best tip of them all: Start with Mom.

Mom, You Are The Heart of the Portrait

At the core of every family photo is a sense of unity, love, and a reflection of the family’s unique dynamics. As a mother, you play a pivotal role in the family and orchestrating these memorable photo sessions. Your comfort and confidence radiate through the photograph, setting the emotional tone for the image. So, let’s delve into why starting with your outfit can be the key to a proud family portrait.

You Glow, Mama!

When you feel good about what you’re wearing, it naturally shows. Your eyes sparkle brighter, your smile becomes more genuine, and your posture exudes confidence. This inherent glow sets a positive and radiant atmosphere for the whole photo, making it a snapshot of the family’s appearance and emotions.

And Dads? I see you! While you might sometimes feel like you’re just “along for the ride” during these family photo sessions, your attitude truly sets the tone. A grin here, a chuckle there, and that signature “dad enthusiasm” can turn a regular photo op into a memorable, joy-filled occasion. So bring on those dad jokes and warm smiles – they make all the difference!

Cohesion and Balance

Once you’ve chosen your family photo outfit, it becomes a cornerstone to design the rest of the family’s wardrobe. Whether it’s a shade from your dress or the style of your attire, using your outfit as a reference ensures a harmonious blend of colors and styles. This cohesion is what elevates a simple picture to a portrait you’d be proud to display.

Keep it Timeless
While the outfits, hairstyles, and even the backdrop might change over the years, one constant in family photos is the shared memories and the stories they tell. When you’re confident in your outfit choice and the resulting coordinated look of the family, these photos transcend time. They become timeless pieces you revisit with pride, reminiscing about the moments captured.

How To Build The Family Wardrobe

Starting with mom’s outfit allows for a structured yet flexible approach to styling the entire family. Now it’s time to figure out what will look great on the rest of your family!

Set the Palette

Once mom has her family photo outfit selected, it can serve as the anchor for the color palette. For instance, if she chooses a floral dress with blue, pink, and green, these colors can guide the family’s color choices.

Balance Out Patterns and Solids

If mom’s outfit has a pattern, it might be best for other family members to go for solid colors that pick up hues from her dress. On the other hand, if her attire is a solid color, then one or two family members could introduce complementary patterns

Harmonious Hues

Instead of choosing matching family photo outfits (think everyone in white shirts and jeans), consider outfits that coordinate. Pick a color palette – like autumnal colors or cool blues and greens – and let each family member choose outfits within that palette.

Avoid Overly Bright Colors

Neon shades or overly bright colors can distract from the faces in the photos and can cause weird color shifts in the camera. Instead, opt for muted, neutral, or pastel colors that enhance the skin tone of the family members.

Limit Busy Prints

While patterns can be fun, overly busy or loud prints can divert attention from the subjects. If someone wears a pattern, make sure others wear solids to balance the look.

Timeless over Trendy

While it’s tempting to dress in the latest fashion trend, remember that these photos are timeless. Classic and simple patterns will ensure the photos remain timeless.

Location, Location, Location!

When it comes to selecting the perfect backdrop for a photo session, I pride myself on offering personalized guidance to my clients. I understand the importance of having a setting that complements your unique vision and story. 

Whether you are drawn to the organic beauty of an outdoor location like one of our Florida beaches, the sophistication of an indoor location, or the tailored ambiance of my fully-equipped studio in Lake Nona, I ensure each choice resonates with your individual preference.

Outdoor Settings

If your session is in a park during the fall, earth tones like browns, oranges, and deep greens can complement the background. Light blues, whites, and tans can beautifully contrast the sea and sky in beach settings.

Indoor Sessions
Depending on the location we choose, I can guide you on the best outfit ideas to suit the look and feel. You want the outfits to look great, not distract from the location or those faces you love! If your session is in the studio, we will discuss the different “looks” we can create with lighting, backgrounds, or props. 

Other Family Photos Outfit Tips For Success


Dress for Ease

Ensure that everyone, especially kids, is comfortable in their outfits. Uncomfortable clothing can lead to irritability, which can be shown in the photos. Have your kids try on the family photos outfits before the session so they can tell you if something doesn’t fit right, feels “scratchy,” or any other complaint. You don’t want to be dealing with this on the morning of the session!

Shoes Matter

While the focus might be on the outfits, don’t forget about footwear. Comfortable and stylish shoes that match the chosen family photo shoot outfits can elevate the overall look. Make sure shoes are clean, polished, and look great. 

Accessorize Thoughtfully

Less is More: While accessories can add a touch of style, it’s essential not to overdo it. Choose statement pieces that you are sure won’t go out of style. Remember those chunky colorful “statement” necklaces that were the rage years ago? Think about how you will feel about a piece 5,10,25+ years from now when you see it in a photo. 

Props can be Fun

Sometimes, incorporating props like a hat, scarf, or favorite stuffie can add a unique and personal touch to the photographs. Talk to me about what you envision! I also have an extensive assortment of props I can source. 

Layer Up for Colder Months

Sweaters, cardigans, scarves, and jackets can add texture and depth to the photos. Plus, they can be easily removed to give a different look in some shots!

Stay Cool in Warm Seasons

Light, breathable fabrics in our hot Florida summers can ensure everyone stays comfortable, especially during longer photo sessions. Even when we are shooting in the coolest part of the day, we want to be sure everyone is as cool and comfortable as possible. 

Women’s Hair and Makeup Tips

While experimenting with bold makeup trends can be fun, a natural look tends to stand the test of time for family photos. Opt for a foundation that matches your skin tone, a subtle blush, and neutral eye makeup. Let your true self shine through!

Manageable Hairstyles

Choose hairstyles you’re comfortable with that won’t require constant fixing during the shoot. Whether it’s a loose bun, flowing waves, or a sleek ponytail, ensure it complements your overall look.

Men’s Grooming Tips

  • Facial Hair: If you sport a beard or mustache, consider giving it a trim to ensure it looks neat. If you’re clean-shaven, shave the day of or the day before the shoot to avoid any rash or redness.

  • Hair Care: Hair styling products like gel or pomade can be used to tame any unruly hair. However, avoid using too much product, which can give hair a greasy appearance. A fresh haircut a few days before the shoot can also make a big difference.

Don’t Forget the Nails

For both men and women, ensure nails are clean and trimmed. You can opt for a clear coat or neutral polish shade if desired. Remember, hands can be a focal point in many photos, especially in close-ups or shots where family members are holding hands.

Children’s Styling

As mentioned, for young ones, comfort should be the top priority. Avoid overly tight hairstyles or itchy hair accessories. A simple brush through their hair or a cute headband can be more than enough.

Minimal Makeup

It’s best to keep makeup minimal or skip it altogether for young girls. A light lip gloss or a dab of blush can be used if desired, but the natural glow of youth often needs no enhancement.

Your Heart and My Passion

Capturing the heart and soul of a family in a single frame is more than just my profession; it’s my passion. Each family has a unique story, and I consider it an honor to be entrusted with telling that story through my lens. 

I collaborate closely with my clients, ensuring every portrait is tailored to their preferences, emotions, and memories. It’s more than just a snapshot; it’s a legacy. I’m committed to delivering portraits that capture the present moment and become cherished heirlooms, evoking nostalgia and love for generations to come.

Want to talk more about a family session? Get in touch, and let’s talk about how we can get some beautiful memories on your walls. 

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photos by carolina montes