• Maria Rosa Photography

What to Wear For Your Family Session

10 Helpful Tips + More

When Thinking About What to Wear


Coordinating colors not matching colors.

Long gone are the days of everyone wearing a white identical shirts. Instead, pick a couple of colors and choose clothes that will fit in this color scheme. Start with a neutral (beige, cream, light brown, grey) then add in accessories and other items that go with. Or choose shades of one main color, have another color be a small pop here and there, and choose a neutral to tie it together ( beige, brown, black, cream, light brown grey) Add in accessories that go with that. Or choose three or four colors to create a color palette and then incorporate the colors throughout their wardrobe in varying patterns, solids, and layers. Consider starting with Mom. Starting with mom is sometimes just the best place to begin. Shop for Mom first, find an outfit that you love and then revolve the others around your colors.


Look at your home decor.

Do you like bright colors? Neutrals? Since you will be hanging these photos in your house you want to make sure the colors of your clothes go with the color scheme of your home. Are you thinking about hanging an image in the kids rooms, play room, hallway, living room? Above the fireplace? Consider choosing a wardrobe that goes with the tones of your home. Your prints will be displayed in your home so keep that in mind in terms of color with your wardrobe.


Don't forget layers, accessories, and textures.

Accessories not only add to your outfit but they can be fun to use in photos. Layers and textures are a really good thing. Blazers, jackets, sweaters, vests, a necklace for mom, earrings, belts, scarves, boots, suspenders for the boys, hats, leggings, tights, layered shirts. Textures like lace, knits, corduroy, linen, ruffles are all nice!


Limit patterns.

It often works well to dress Mom and Dad in more solid colors and have a kid or two in patterns. This way the parents match everyone perfectly. Personally, I enjoy having an outfit in the mix that has all the colors in the wardrobe choices in it. Patterns are awesome, however, not everyone in the photo should wear patterns as it may distract the final image.


Consider dressing Mom first.

If you pick out your outfit first, and then dress the children and dad, you may be much happier and more confident knowing you are wearing something you feel comfortable and beautiful in. If you pick out the kids outfits first, you may be scrambling and more frustrated and not as happy if you can't find the right thing to match in your closet. You want to feel great during you session! Pick yours out first!


Plan ahead.

Once you book your session, start thinking of the clothes right away. You may think certain clothes will fit your kids or that one dress is clean. You may need to get something online. You do not want this to stress you out. If you wait until the day before, you may run into issues of clothes not fitting, being dirty, etc.


Say no to characters.

Yes, your little one may love their Toy Story shirt but you may want to skip it for the family photo session. Just like too many different patterns, characters on shirts can be pretty distracting.


Avoid all white or all black clothing with no texture.

If you are wearing an all white shirt outside especially with not textures, it can be very easy to lose detail in the photograph. White can work if you’re layering it or wearing a scarf on top, but it’s difficult to photograph all on it's on it’s own, and not always flattering. I have photographed some families in mostly all white but there were varying textures and layers of white and beige, and it worked. If your session is inside in your home, you can take a few more liberties in wearing mostly black or white as the lighting is completely different, softer and more delicate than outdoors. Shades of whites, creams, tans with lots of textures, layers, or visual interest can still be gorgeous!


Keep comfort in mind.

A short skirt will be a challenge to sit or play with your kids in. Longer sleeves past the elbow is great to draw attention to your face and not to your arms if you'd rather not. On top of that fact, if you are self conscience about your arms, a longer sleeve may help keep you feeling great in your portraits, and have you further enjoy your final product. Don’t hide your curves and don't dress too bulky. Dress to flatter your body. Remember to pay attention to the shoes you all wear, as well! On the beach, shoes won't be a necessity.


Large group photo session.

Dressing large extended family members who live in different homes can be a bit trickier. Keeping all the tips in mind, make it even simpler. Possibly bring it down to one color with some specified neutral shades, or all neutrals, or specific colors like coral-navy blue-and beige, or other color pallets. You can have one or two members of the family "overlooking" some of the outfits and have family members text you pictures and ideas of what they have in mind for their immediate families. You can compare ideas, thoughts and share your outfits or accessories with each other. This might help others pick good complimentary colors and textures. Keep colors simple. In general solid colored clothing will be best - keep away from patterns unless you know who will be wearing it and you make sure it doesn't clash with other patterns. If Uncle Joe, Uncle Rob, Aunt Mary and little Julie are all wearing different large patterns or variations of plaid, that might not look so great. Keep things simple. Use overall solid colors. Consider pops of interest with texture, layers and accessories.

More Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Dress like yourselves, but at your best!

  • Logos are usually not so good.

  • Too many bold colors, or too many colors in general can dominate the pictures. Consider a pop of color.

  • On the beach, the girls wearing something flowy is always nice.

  • Having your shirt and bottom be of a similar shade of dark or light color can flow better on a body, instead of cutting a body right where a shirt ends.

  • Consider wearing comfortable, but clean and decent, shoes since taking pictures with me may require some exploring of our environment.

  • I don't want the kids to look and smile at me for every picture, so please don't force them.

  • Make sure you feel great in whatever you’ve chosen to wear.

  • Hair cuts should be done two weeks prior to your session.

  • It’s never a bad idea to bring a blanket in a color that coordinates with your clothes.

  • Break the rules. These are suggestions. It's your family connections & relationships that will be photographed rather than just what you're wearing. That'll shine through regardless of your clothes.

Smaller Children Success Tips:

  • If you have small kids , I recommend bringing “bribes” or “rewards” only for the very, very end or after the session! We can use these “big guns” when they start to lose interest only at the end. I definitely don't want you to bring out bribes or treats during a session, unless it's a part of the session, because that makes it all more difficult to move forward in the best way. Don't hold it over their heads either. That can be very frustrating for them.

  • Plan the whole day around the shoot. You can make it a fun & big deal! Make it the highlight of the day! Schedule naps and dinner around the session.

  • Another good idea when you have little ones, is to bring their favorite toy. Even if it isn’t something you think will photograph well, it can often make the session so much more enjoyable for the child, and help them behave naturally. We can bring it out towards the end of the session, if at all. If we do, it can help that real element to their portraits.

  • If you are so inclined, a glass of wine or a beer before your session might be just the thing to loosen you up a bit. Cut it off at one though, please.

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Maria Rosa Photography serves as a NWI Photographer and Chicagoland Photographer. Wedding, Family and Lifestyle Newborn sessions near Munster IN, Griffith, IN, South Chicago Suburbs, Winfield IN, Chesterton IN, Valparaiso IN, St John IN, Flossmoor IL, Dyer IN, & all of Northwest Indiana.