What to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot // Philadelphia Family Photography

11 Tips for What to Wear for a Family Photo Shoot : Philadelphia Family Photography

I get the question all the time — what to wear for a family photo shoot? It just so happens to be one of my favorite questions as a family photographer in Philadelphia. Deciding what to wear in family photos can be just as challenging as finding the perfect photographer. You are creating family heirlooms to hang around you home and cherish for years to come. Deciding what to wear can be overwhelming, but if you use these tips, you’ll be sure to pick the perfect wardrobe for your family.

1) Coordinate and complement 

Try to coordinate without matching exactly. When styling a session, I like to start with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to start with one “rock star” outfit that you love on a member of your family then pull more simple outfits in for the rest of the groups clothing or accessories.

Use a couple of the colors in the first outfit and tie in the rest of the set. You can do this with a neutral tone and add more color or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shade.mother holding infant son photo by heather thomas photographydad and toddler daughter walking in park photo by heather thomas photographyfamily walking in park photo by heather thomas photography
2) Accessorize

Add color and interest…and think outside the box. Scarves, hats,  jewelry, sweaters, vests jackets, etc.  all these things can a bring a ba-humbug image and make it feel “complete”. Try to avoid too many accessories as they can take over the image. With sweet babies and toddlers that they do not need much in the way of “accessories”….they are beautiful in their simple purity, and I want them to be the star of the show instead of making the viewers eyes  go straight to a giant headband as big as their head. Personality first then complementary accessories.

boy playing in nature dressed in blue jeans and boots photo by heather thomas photography

3) Add Layers and texture

They add beauty and depth in photos. I love using multiple textures and layers. By this, I mean different clothing materials and accents – tweed, crochet and embroidery details, lace, hand knit items, skirts, leggings, ruffles etc.  Think scarves (light weight or winter weight), hats, jackets, blazers, ties, denim, knits and corduroy. Long sleeves under short sleeves, leggings under skirts/dresses. Fun shoes like tall boots or sassy heels. A variety of textures will give your photos some extra punch to go with your great smile. Follow your own vision and style!

girls dancing on beach in dresses at sunrise photo by heather thomas photography

4) Be a head turner 

Wear the blazer that fits just right. Or that dress that makes you feel like a million bucks. It is a fact; clothes that make you feel good make you LOOK good. If you have the option, why not wear something that makes you want to smile!

5) Avoid logos, bold patterns and character-wear 

Leave Dora and Diego at home. Character-wear and logos may be precious in person but will leave you clueless in twenty years when you look back on your photos and try to figure out who that is on your child’s shoes. Keep it timeless and focused on your faces, not the characters.

6) Pick clothing that fits nicely

It should be neither too tight nor too loose. The clothes should hang on the bodies well, without folding or creasing. Always dress for full-length shots, which means socks and shoes that also match and are in good shape.

7) Kids : Think personality!

Cheerful and fun but not over the top! Consider the location of the shoot. If we’re shooting at a rustic farmhouse, keep the colors minimal. If we’re shooting downtown, leggings and a pettiskirt are adorable! If you’re not sure, just ask me, I’m happy to help. Most kids are not comfortable in formal dresses and it can show in their pictures. So if you have your heart set on your little angel in a suit and tie or an elaborate party dress, make sure to bring a second outfit that is more casual and comfortable.

8) Shoes Matter 

I suggest not wearing sneakers….unless we are talking about the slip on or funky sneakers that go with the feel of the session. The choice of shoes can make or break an outfit. Slipping on a pair of hip, distressed boots or some colorful ballet flats can tie everything together and complete the feel of the session. Think about coordinating those bright and colorful shoes with other accessories and clothing in the photo. And many times NO shoes look best, especially on the little ones! Often times I’ll take the shoes right off of those kids feet — I love to use those beautiful, small feet to tell your child’s story. 

9) Clean and Fresh Colors

Warm or cool, pastels or earthy colors work best. Neutrals go a long way and keep the emphasis on the subject. Chose colors that blend well with your family’s skin tones. Choose clothes in ivory, apricot, tans, beige, milk chocolate browns, violet blues and lemon yellow colors.  Avoid black and burgundy, which will make your skin look shallow.

10) Hair and Makeup

Similar rules as clothing; keep it clean and simple. Your portrait makeup should be neutral. Wear your hair in a way that compliments you from different angles. Please do not go overboard, after all you don’t want to explain to the next generation why you chose a certain up do!

11) Where to Shop 

Some of my favorite stores for family portrait ideas are GAP, Old Navy and JCrew. These stores have plenty of ideas and their colors work nicely together for the whole family! My favorite stores for kids clothes include Mini-Boden, Kids Gap, Etsy, Matilda Jane & Gymboree

girl walking downtown charleston in white outfit photos by heather thomas photography
Heather Thomas is an award winning family and baby photographer in the Philadelphia area. To set up your photo session, contact Heather today!

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