Step 1 - Location

Before you even begin perusing family photo outfit ideas, you need to think about where you’ll be taking your photos. Stilettos in a flower field? It’s just not going to work out well! Have a chat with your photographer about your vision and talk in detail about your location options. Naturally, the outfits you choose for a casual beach session should look very different from what you’d select for an edgy urban vibe in your city’s downtown. You also need to keep the weather in mind. Spring in Indiana (where I live) can be a bit chilly. Be sure to have adequate layers to keep your children comfy.

Step 2 - Choose your outfit first

Mamas are usually the ones planning this session. As such, you are likely the most invested in these photos. And while you will “oh and ah” over that darling snuggle between your little people, your eye will quickly drift to anything about your own appearance you dislike. It’s not vanity; it’s human nature! This is why photographers highly recommend moms choose their outfit first. Additionally, women’s/girl’s clothing tends to have more pattern and detail than boy’s and men’s. Other tips?

  • Wear a dress – Dresses are universally flattering on camera. Maxi and mid lengths offer the most freedom of movement, allowing you to comfortably get low to the ground to interact with your kiddos. Not a dress person? A shirt/skirt combo can also work well. Seek out styles with a fitted waist or some sort of waistline definition (e.g. belt), versus looser/shapeless styles that can look sloppy in photos.
  • Have a favorite color? Start there! – When mom feels beautiful, that attitude spreads to the rest of the family. Additionally, wearing a color you know you look good in can really simplify the process as you select a color palette.
  • Materials matter – You want your photo look to be a bit elevated from what you wear everyday. Steer clear of t-shirt material (can look messy/wrinkly). Instead, seek out fabrics that flow well and resist wrinkles (e.g. chiffon, rayon, silk, or polyester)
  • Let your home décor guide you – Are you putting these photos on the wall? A coffee table or mantle? Ideally, the colors of your clothing will complement your décor.
  • Texture is your friend – Crochet, chambray, chunky knits, lace, ruffles… They add beautiful dimension and interest to photographs.
  • Classic over trendy – Trends are fun, but in moderation. You want to love these images decades from now, right? Classic silhouettes will never fail you.

Step 3 - Build a color palette

  • One you know what you’re going to wear, choose 2-3 other colors that mesh well with your outfit. Some of these should be neutral, but you want at least one to pop and bring life to the look. Photographers generally recommend muted hues over super-saturated and bold colors. Neon is also a no-no. Why? These highly vibrant colors can distract. You want your family and your connection to be the focus, not your clothes! Start by shopping your closet. Perhaps you already have something great that will work. If not, browse Kelly’s suggestions for family photo outfit ideas. Let’s have some fun building your palette!

Step 4 - Test run

  • Be sure to try your looks on in advance. And we are not talking about the night before! Ideally, you should test your outfits at least a week before. Why? You need time to make a change if something isn’t working or doesn’t fit. Assess the style and silhouette from all angles (front, back, side). Do a “sit test” to prevent any wardrobe malfunctions and ensure you are 100 percent comfortable. No one wants to worry about their bra showing as they cuddle their kiddos! Do your outfits match up to the forecast? You may need to bring an extra layer for the little ones.