3 Tips on What to Wear to Your Portrait Session

What to wear to family photos, three tips for styling family photos, kids outfits for family photos

1.  There’s No Such Thing As Too Dressed Up

If there is one thing that will really increase the “Wow” factor in your photos, its dressing up! Unlike being the only person in costume at an office Halloween party, you will never regret going full out formal for your photos.  


For women & girls, long, full-length, flowy dresses and skirts look amazing on camera because they can bring extra movement to the photos. Especially when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, plains or beach. Consider softer fabrics like chiffon or tulle which allow for beautiful movement in the images.  Be sure to select a silhouette that flatters your body, and doesn’t make you feel self conscious.  Two of my favorite places to find AMAZING, affordable dresses are Asos.com and Lulus.com. I always recommend staying far away from jeans (just this once!  You can do it!), and shorts.  Lastly, for beach sessions, we go barefoot, but anywhere else I recommend wearing high heels! Bring some comfy shoes for walking to and from locations, but high-heels always increase that wow-factor of images.


In case you didn’t know, “modest is hottest.” Especially when you’re running, jumping, or crouching down next to small children, you’ll want a longer dress that won’t be revealing.  If you’re not into a maxi length dress or skirt, consider a midi-dress.  Cocktail dress look darling on camera, and I highly recommend them if you have older children. I always tell my clients to avoid anything strapless (unless you’re a bride), and make sure your dress straps are wide enough t cover your undergarments.


When it comes to hair and makeup, consider getting it professionally done.  You’d be surprised at how inexpensive a full makeover can be!  Most hair and makeup artists will come to you home, apply your makeup, and style your hair for around $50.00.  The payoff is high end looking photos, and some self care time for a busy mama! 


For men, I always tell my clients to wear dress pants.  Not jeans.  Not khakis.  Dress pants, and fitted dress pants at that.  On top, I suggest a button down shirt.  Adding layers like a sport coat (or better yet, a suit!), suspenders, tie, or sweater (in colder weather) will only improve the look of your images.  Steer clear of anything with patterns, graphics, or loud colors.  Tan, gray and navy typically compliment anything a woman wears.  Brown leather, closed toes shoes and belts never go out of style.


What to wear to family photos, three tips for styling family photos, kids outfits for family photos



2. Coordinate, Don’t Match

Remember in the 90’s when everyone took family photos in a white t-shirt and khakis? There’s a reason we stopped doing that.  Dressing in a matchy-matchy way feels stiff, and is very dated.  Try to “coordinate” your family’s outfits in terms of style and color.


Try to keep everyone on the same level of “dressy-ness.”  For example, if you’re wearing a long gown, your husband should probably wear a shirt and tie, or suit coat, not a polo.  If daughter’s dress is chiffon and silk, you son shouldn’t wear a white t-shirt.  Keep the style at the same level.  I like to think of “the wedding guest attire hierarchy:”

  • Dressy Casual

  • Semi-Formal

  • Formal

  • Black Tie

When it comes to color, soft, light tones just look best. These colors help keep the focus on your faces, and not on your clothes.  Think white, cream, light gray, soft pinks, blues & sea foam greens!  I always suggest coming up with a color palette to help you stay on track. My style of photography, is fresh, bright and airy, and darker clothing just changes the look of an image… it makes the image feel “heavy.”  For example, the photo above and the one below were taken in the same location 15 minutes apart.  While they’re both beautiful images, they don’t have the same feel.  


What to wear to family photos, three tips for styling family photos, kids outfits for family photos

I always suggest accessorizing to add visual interest.  Statement necklaces, bracelets, watches, belts, bow ties or long ties, etc. always add an extra layer to any outfit, making it feel more expensive.  You can also coordinate your family’s outfits through accessories.  A necklace the same color as your husband’s tie & son’s shirt?  Boom!  Beautiful!


Don’t feel like you need to dress your children in the same type of outfit either.  One daughter can wear a dress and sandals, while the other is in a skirt and flats.  Or one boy can wear a bow tie, while the other wears suspenders. Mixing pieces creates more visual interest in your photos.


3. Don’t Stress 

Can I let you in on a little secret? When you see your photos, you will react based more on how you felt that day, than on what you were wearing.  Seriously.  If you got married in a $20 Target dress, you’d still love your photos, because it was the best day of your life, and you felt great! However, if you don’t believe me, and you are still a little bit worried, don’t be!  I send all of my clients a 48 page Portrait Style Guide upon booking!  It covers locations to accessories, and everything in between!




April 15, 2019

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