Filed in : PERSONAL

What to Wear for Family Photos

Imagine this. You haven’t had a family photo session in years, and you’ve saved enough to splurge a little. Basketball schedules and piano schedules and work schedules have all aligned and FINALLY you’ve got a session on your calendar. You are SO excited to finally get a family portrait on your walls.

And then panic ensues.

The question I get most often after a session is booked (and sometimes even before!) is…”What should we WEAR?!” I get it! In fact, the thing that takes me the longest after I book our family photos is deciding what everyone is wearing!

You want everything to go smoothly and you want to look fabulous and you want your annoying cousin who you send a Christmas card to every year to notice that YES in fact you HAVE lost 10 pounds, thanks for noticing, and yes, your kids ARE the actual cutest.

And man, your family has great taste in fashion.

It’s a lot of pressure!

I tell my clients that when they book a Mad Photo session, they’re paying for far more than just my time for the session + the editing. They also get my expertise when it comes to styling your family photo. If you want to email me a few options before you check out on, I will totally be your sounding board.

Ultimately, what you and your family want to wear for your photos is a personal decision. HOWEVER, I’m happy to help in any way I can! Here are a few of my best tips when it comes to styling your session:

Style Tips: What to Wear for Family Photos

Go bold with color. If I could offer only one tip, this would be it: don’t be afraid of color! Fun, colorful outfits add an extra pop to your pictures. These pictures will be a reflection of the amazing person you are, so go ahead and have fun with your style and show everyone who you are!

I know it can be hard to not wear neutrals (I wear them a ton!) but I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend against wearing black or white in photos. Both colors do not photograph well and end up looking quite flat. Color is where it’s at! Every photographer is different in what they recommend, but chances are if you are booking me, you like the images I’ve captured before, right? I guarantee those families were wearing tons of color. DON’T BE AFRAID OF COLOR.

Coordinate, don’t match. It can be easy to default to everyone just wearing the same color, but I don’t recommend that! Plus, I’ve been a part of family photos where we’re all required to wear a certain color, and it never ends well. Your brother doesn’t own that color, your sister only looks good in blue, your dad’s only shirt that works is dirty … it’s never ideal.

Enter, color palettes! Pick a handful of colors that look good together and go with that. Here are a few I love:

Primary Inspiration: maroon, navy, olive, mustard (LOVE this for fall!)
Sweetly Muted: blush, ivory/cream, olive, chambray (so perfect for spring)
Pretty Masculine: light blue/chambray, olive/army green

If color makes you nervous, the easiest thing to do is pick one family member to wear the primary outfit. This can be a lot of things – the outfit with the most color, or maybe the brightest color. Maybe it has a fun pattern. Use that outfit to dress everyone else.

Accessorize! My family sessions include one outfit for each family member. HOWEVER, a fun and quick way to change up your outfit is by accessorizing. Feel free to bring jackets, scarves, different jewelry or shoes to quickly change up your outfit. As long as nothing is too bulky, layers can be a ton of fun for photos and look really great and stylish.

Don’t be afraid to get dirty. I shoot primarily in rural locations. You’ll be sitting/kneeling in tall grass, flowers, dirt – and it’s going to look AWESOME! Your session will go much smoother if you’re not concerned about dirtying your outfits. Obviously we will go to all lengths to prevent that, but it’s best to not wear something super special in case it does get dirty.

When all else fails, keep it simple. Cute shoes are always fun – funky pumps, cute wedges, bright flats, adorable little sneakers for kiddos – but don’t be afraid to go barefoot! Barefoot photos are my favorite.

I know it can be daunting, but it’s really pretty simple: wear outfits you feel great wearing. Don’t try to force yourself into something uncomfortable that you wouldn’t normally wear. If you’re uncomfortable or fiddling with your clothes, it’s going to show in your photos. Now is not the time to buy and wear something totally out of character because it’s trendy. Just be you 🙂

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Hi! I'm Maddie.

If I’m giving you my elevator pitch, I’m a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, brand photographer and educator for creative women.

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