How to dress for Amazing Family Photos

Introduction: The importance of dressing accordingly for your Family Portrait Session

Choosing the right outfit for your session can transform your images from great to AMAZING! I am not kidding. I have lived and learned and seen it for myself. At the beginning of my career as a photographer, I wasn’t so strict with my clients and models with their outfits, but I’ve learned that by not being so firm, I wasn’t creating the best images I could. It is my role as a Family Photographer to bring my expertise on what photographs well and what doesn’t, so I am now offering styling advice to all my sessions. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Fashion Stylist, but I know what WORKS for family photos! I’m also building a client wardrobe that can be used if there are some missing items. I also like to give my clients the option to style themselves and send me a picture of their outfits so I can confirm and make small adjustments.

In this blog post, I will share with you some of my expertise and help you style your session and figure out what colour works and what pattern and textures to wear on your next family photos.

I. Tips for choosing outfits for your Family Photoshoot

A. Pick the pickiest person first when choosing outfits

Do you have someone difficult in your family who is always hard to dress or who changes outfits last minute before going out? Is that mum or one of the boys? Well, then that person should be the starting point of the styling. Pick a tone that will work with the session and start from there. It will make everything else so much easier.

B. What item of clothing each family member should wear?

 I have a personal preference for long, flowing dresses for women and older girls because of the way they move in the wind, they always look great! However, a long shawl can also add movement. For babies and younger girls who will be carried most of the time, a romper or something without a skirt is ideal. Skirts tend to get wrinkled, and underwear can become visible.

Overalls, rompers, and suspenders are adorable choices for boys. As for older boys and men, I adore Henleys, casual button-downs, and textured knitwear… just steer clear of hoodies, turtlenecks, polos, blazers, and overly formal dress shirts. And please, no tucking your shirt into your trousers!

C. Pick a comfortable outfit yet look great!

It’s so important that you ultimately wear something comfortable, that you can move freely and that you’re warm enough. I always recommend bringing coats, and walking shoes to get to the location and wearing underlayers in the colder months. It would be a shame to have a red nose in the photos because you’re too cold. Pick an outfit that you will normally wear yet that is more dressed than your usual you.

D. What shoes to wear?

Usually, brown and beige shoes are great and discreet. Depending on the season, you can wear cowboy boots, sandals, Chelsea and laced boots. Stay away from white shoes, trainers, sports shoes, shoes with characters on them and bold colours, otherwise the eye will be drawn to it. For women wearing a long dress with no opening on the leg, best to wear sandals, clogs or high boots so it doesn’t only show a small piece of skin between the ankle and the dress. Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer if you have a doubt.

II. What colour palette to wear for Family Photos?

A. When to add in bright colours? How to use neutral colours? A colour palette might be the solution

Colours play a big part in the styling, depending on what style and what location you are going for.  I prefer warm hues because they complement my editing style the best, so I suggest integrating shades like brown, rust, mustard, mauve, or any other warm tones into your outfits. You can also incorporate cool tones like blue, turquoise, teal, and green to offset the warmth, but use them sparingly. Additionally, include plenty of neutral tones to maintain a good balance of colour. Some examples of neutrals include cream, grey, taupe, and tan. I advise against using bright white (which can appear blue in photographs), neon colours, bright blue or purple, or excessive amounts of black. 

Don’t forget to consider your location when selecting colours. For instance, if the environment contains a lot of green, avoid wearing too much green so you don’t blend in too much. If our location is in a marshland, avoid too much brown. Avoid two people with the same colour standing next to each other as it would look blocky.

 When hanging photos in your home, ensure that you select colours that complement your space and do not clash with your decorations.

III. Why adding texture and patterns will make your images better

A. Why add some texture to your Family Photoshoot?

Texture is another way to make your images more interesting, it builds a story, an emotion. For example, if you are lying in a field on a sheepskin rug, then that could tell a story of where you are and how you got there. If you add some fur, it would add some cosy winter vibes. Do you get me? Knit is a great way to add some texture and discreet patterns to the images.

B. What sort of fabrics work great for your Family Photos?

Natural fabrics are the best. I love ethically sourced or vintage fur, leather, wool, satin (really pretty, it brings so much light), bouclé, cotton, linen, etc…

Make sure you pick only a few bold fabrics or else it could be distracting.

C. How to add patterns?

Adhere to a single pattern for a three-person household, 1-2 patterns for a family of four, 2-3 for a group of five, and so forth. Alternatively, opt for variety and stick to solid colours, but be sure to incorporate textured fabrics to add visual interest. I have a preference for floral and striped patterns (although not thin, closely spaced stripes as they can have a strange effect in photographs).
AVOID: Small patterns with contrasting hues. Trendy patterns that may make your photos look dated. Any clothing with words, logos, or characters. Neon colours on any clothing or accessories, including shoe soles. Athletic shoes are not recommended (although stylish chucks are acceptable). Please, no matching outfits with other family members!

IV. Accessorise your Family Photo Shoot

A. Why are accessories needed for your photo session?

Accessories are so important, they bring that extra WOW! It adds to the story, for example, an engagement or wedding ring can tell a part of the Family’s story.

B. What accessories to add to your family photo shoot?

I love bringing hats to the images, it works at every season. It can be a fedora hat, a baby bonnet, or a summer straw hat. Other accessories could be jewellery, I love a stack of rings. Note that men can also accessorise, there are some very cool men’s rings out there. But if rings aren’t your thing, then maybe don’t wear them as you wouldn’t want to look at the images and not recognise yourself. It wouldn’t be a good thing, it’s better to use it sparingly. Silk scarves would be lovely as well if blowing in the wind.

Other accessories could be a straw picnic basket, a cosy blanket or a favourite teddy. I am always open to suggestion and I love it when my client brings their creativity and ideas to the session.

C. Let’s not forget about undergarments

Undergarments are so important. We might not always see them but it can impact the session, so make sure you pick colour-coordinated socks, a baby bloomer if your little one is using nappies, and make sure that dad isn’t wearing branded or bright underwear that shows out of the trouser if they bend over while they explore for bugs with the kids.

For women, I strongly suggest avoiding maternity bras and they often squish the breast, instead, a wired or unwired triangle bra works better. 

V. Choosing the right hairstyle and makeup for your family pictures

A. What is my advice on hair and makeup for your family session

For women, I prefer a natural makeup. Make sure your foundation is the right colour for your skin tone and not orange as it can be time-consuming to readjust the skin tone on every image. 

I usually suggest picking between eyeshadow or lipstick and not doing both as it would look too much for a lifestyle family session. If you decide to wear lipstick, make sure it’s a liquid matt lipstick and it won’t come off as I will make you kiss a lot of faces! 🙂 For the hair, I love wavy and curly hair, either fully down or halfway up. Waves and curls look so beautiful in the wind, they add texture and details to the images, so dreamy!

I also love it when the mother is braiding their daughter’s hair, adding some wildflowers to it if they are nearby. It tells a story, a special moment, a special bond.

For boys and men, make sure they’ve had a recent haircut and that your partner has a fresh shave.

B. Some examples on Pinterest to inspire you for your family pictures

I have included some Girl Hairstyle examples for your family session on a Pinterest board. You can also view Women’s Hairstyle examples for family photos session board to inspire you.

Pinterest is an amazing tool when styling Families so feel free to explore too to get some ideas.

VI. Bonus: what to avoid, mistakes I’ve made and outfit ideas on Pinterest

A. What to avoid illustration versus family photo outfit ideas

I have made a whole Pinterest board on What to AVOID wearing at your Family Photoshoot so you get an idea of what to stay away from. After reading this blog you will understand why! If you want a more general idea of what to wear, I’ve included a board with outfit inspo named Family Photography Wardrobe Inspiration.

B. The mistakes I have made

As mentioned above, I’ve made my own mistakes when it comes to styling and in this bonus, I will be sharing with you what I should have done instead, so it inspires you for your shoot.

In this styling the mum forgot her shoes home so I lended her my converse and I used my wellies. If I was to do it again I would switch it with a pair of brown mid-calf lenght boots. The dad is wearing bright white sneakers, I would chnage this with brown chelsea or laced boots.

In this one I would change the mum boots for some lighert ones and maybe change the dad’s one for smatter brown boots. It’s a thought one as you don’t want to ruin them in the mud, but wellies could work too if it’s sober but not black.

In this images, I would change the shirt for something more casual and a darker colour as the white is too bright.I would also untuck the shit for a more relaxed look.

In this image, I should of have them barefoot or change the mum’s sneakers for a knee boot. I would also change her knitwear for something more tailored and better colour or texture.

Mother hugging her baby, the father is peaking on the side and watching them both with a smile.

In this image, I would remove some of the pink and replace it with something else as they are too matching.

Family of three: the father is holding his little boy, the mother is hugging them tighlty from behind. They are standing in front of a big pink flower tree.

In this one, I would pick a darker shirt and replace the jeans for something less casual. I like holes in jeans but not in Family photos.

In this images, I would replace the slidders for something smarter, perhaps lofers for men and a solid heal shoe for the woman. I would also stay away from pristine white as it creates too much contrast.

In this one, I would pick a similar shoes but with a solid heal as it looks a little out of place in the field.

Family of four, the father, the mother and two yound children, the parents are holding the blamket high and the kids are running under.

In this one, I would remove the blazer, replace the white shirt for a darker colour and untuck it.

Family of four, the dad, mum, baby girl and little boy standing in a field of daffodils.

In this one I would lighten up the dad’s style as it’s too dark. It’s okay to have darker trousers but ideally not black as it looks too blocky.

Family of four, the parents and teenage daughter are standing on a bridge, the daughter is hugging her father and their younger child is running towards them, hair blowing in the wind.

In this image, I think the whole looks are too casual. It was he family’s decision by the way, I would not advice this as I don’t think it photographs well.

In this one, I think the dad’s trouser is too casual and could be change for smarter trousers.

Father laughing and looking at the camera, his son is hugging him with a smile.

In this one, I think the dad’s jacket is too casual and could be change for something smarter.

As you might be able to tell, some of these images are old, and you might see how much progress I have made. I truly believe that styling makes a HUGE difference, so I‘ve decided to offer styling advice with my session. But at the end of the day, it’s always up to the client to take me up on it but I must first explain why great styling is crucial.

Choosing outfits for Family Photos has never been so easy! You are now ready to build your family photo outfits and look amazing in Photos.

Hi, I’m Alba. Thank you for reading!

I hope this blog post has been useful to you. If you are looking for a Family Photographer and want some professional advice on how to style your outfits, please feel free to reach out. I use Style & Select which helps me style your photography session. I will give you 3 options, either you fully let me style you through the tool, or you style yourself answering a questionnaire with the tool, or lastly, you do it yourself without the tool and send me a photo of what you picked. Whatever option my clients pick, I always send them a Welcome Guide that helps them understand how it works, which is a lot more complete than this blog.

So if this sounds like you and you would want emotional, lighthearted and stylish outdoor photos in London, Kent or Essex, please send me a request on my booking page.


Want to read more? Check out this post:

A sweat family photo shoot on the beach in Botany Bay


If you’re after a candid, relaxed and intimate photography experience, you’ve come to the right place. 
My work focus on emotions, no stiff poses and forced smile; only gentle love and embraces. I offer a very hands-on experience, connecting over a video consultation with each family beforehand ; we explore their stories of love, loss and wins and turn it into a beautiful, meaningful session. Each family and session are unique and crafted with patience, love and understanding. 

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