What to wear for family photos

Here is my video on my Facebook page that talks about much of the below.
#1: Choose a Color Palette. Pick 3 or 4 colors that look good together & start from there.

How do I do that? Typically I choose colors that I know look good on the people we are photographing.  If I were choosing outfits for my family, I know my boys looks good in blues, so I might start there.

Or I choose a first piece of clothing I like and I base the rest of the outfits on that piece of clothing. A good idea is to work from a main piece and base your color palette off that.

For example my main piece below is the plaid shirt on the right.  These a family with two boys. (note Dad’s pants are navy slacks, but appear black in the image. I avoid black typically. see #6).

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 2.34.35 PM

Side note, I’m specifically talking about what to wear for photos that are shot on location, in California, in the San Francisco Bay area. I’m going to refine this further, to a green or brown grassy area. Outfits needs to work with your location background. For example, if I were shooting images on a beach in the sand the colors we’d need for that location would be slightly different. Also much of this does not apply for in studio.

#2: Stay away from what I like to call “matchy matchy”. So that would be everyone wearing white shirts and jeans, or khaki’s and a blue shirt. I know this seems easy, but it leads to boring portraits, that look uninteresting.

#3: Try to limit patterns. One pattern as your main piece that you are basing your outfits off of is great. But try to keep it to that. You don’t want more than 2 people in patterns, this can distract the viewer from the people in the portrait to what they are wearing which isn’t the goal. If you do have two patterns, ensure the second is very understated.

When choosing a pattern, stay away from horizontal strips, as they tend to make people look larger, and can also be distracting. Also large floral patterns can be overly distracting. Stick to smaller simple florals, checks etc.

Below is another sample outfit.

Screen Shot 2018-09-11 at 2.37.16 PM

#4:  Even though you are limiting color patterns does not mean you need to limit textures and layers. Texture and layers in photos is a great thing. So you could have a blue dress shirt for mom, and has a lace detail – excellent! Or different fabric textures. This will add depth to your image without distracting from the subjects.  Examples: jean jackets, lace details, wool sweaters, different fabrics, pockets on cargo pants.

On the same note, stay away from any lettering, schwag t-shirts, Disney characters on outfits. I feel this can just look cheap, and we are going for a timeless family portrait, which this does not lend itself to.

#5: Feel free to add accessories that tie in your outfits. A a large chunky necklace for mom, or a bold scarf that has all your colors in it is fabulous. You don’t want to overdo it, but this will allow you to still express who you are. We still want to see your personality in the image, after all they are about you.

#6: Stay away from all white and all black clothing. This is the first color, (ahem tones) actually they aren’t colors they are tones. That are lost in an image as they are at the very end of spectrum. You want details in your images. White will be the brightest part of any image, if you are wearing a white shirt, the viewer’s eye will be drawn to your shirt and not the subject’s faces. Instead of white, how about an off white that is textured. Instead of black, how about a grey that is perhaps a sweater. Don’t put your entire family in grey or off white, for an either family it can be rather dull, but one person is fine. Please please don’t wear white to my session.

#7: Don’t be afraid of some COLOR. This will add some subtle pop to your images when still being pleasing to the eye. Now when I say color, I’m not saying bright red or neon yellow. (please no neon colors!). But what about mustard instead of bright yellow for example. We are seeking harmony with all the colors that you choose.

#8: Footwear! Don’t forget your feet. Ensure that they go well with your outfit. Don’t put beautiful outfits together and then put your old dirty sneakers on. They will stick out like a sore thumb.

#9: FIT! Items of clothing should be not too tight and not too baggy. Baggy, untailored, and unfitted clothing will add weight to your frame, no matter what your size. Love that baggy sweater? Through a chunky belt on it so we can see your waist. Baggy and loose fitting might be the style, but it doesn’t lead to flattering photos They still need to fit.

Below are some great looking families I have photographed, with color palettes attached.

Please consult me if you are having any questions about what to wear, it would be my pleasure to help. Feel free to text me your sample outfits.

This family chose a subdued color palette with grey, pink and blue, but there is still COLOR! they did not choose all grey, or all blues.



See how the below family chose grey, but they got that PUNCH of color in there with maroon! #goodchoice!


Updated this post with a couple more images from last year.

Even tho I think this might have too many patterns, it still can work. And I especially love the COLOR palette in this image. Also see how the bottoms of the family are all not in jeans or the same = YES! winning.



The below color palette I love too:


If you are being photographed in the cooler months, like November and December, please look at this video… LAYERS are SO important. Littles get SO cold SO quickly. This video is also just another good example of HOW to put outfits together 😉

Here is another video that I made when I was going location scouting with just myself and my kiddos.

Need help? Please text me photos. I include this in my pricing because it REFLECTS in my images.

YES I have updated this for 2018 🙂




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