12 Outfit Tips for Your Session
Maria Rosa Photography
Pro Tip No.01
IF MOM IS THERE, DRESS HER FIRST!
The first rule of family photo sessions at home or outdoors is that Mom gets to choose what she wears first, then everyyyyone else coordinates around her. It’s time to step into your queen Mama glory. Lots of Moms find that long dresses (midi or maxi length), but anything you can sit, stand, lie down, twirl, tickle, and run around in will be amazing for pics. If you pick out Mom's outfit first and then dress the children and dad, Mom may be much happier and confident knowing she's wearing something she feels comfortable and beautiful in. If you pick out the kids' outfits first, she may not be as happy if she can't find the right thing to match in her closet. Make sure Mom feels great during your session! Pick hers out first! Above all, choose something that makes you feel amazing. Full stop.
Pro Tip No.02
ALL THE LAYERS
Especially for an outdoor session, layers are fantastic to add! Balance out busy patterns with a neutrals. Long layers look great on all body types! Blazers, light jackets, sweaters, vests, scarves, suspenders for the boys, hats, leggings, tights, layered shirts.
Pro Tip No.03
BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FACE?
If you'd like, wear your makeup about 20% darker than you would normally wear it. It'll help add depth and contouring.
Pro Tip No.04
Have twins? Dress them uniquely and embrace their individuality! The same is true for all siblings!
Pro Tip No.05
DON'T FORGET YOUR WRISTS
Ditch the sports watches and hair ties on the wrists! Keep in mind that small bracelets can sometimes photograph as a hair band. If you can plan ahead, take off smart watches and lose the watch tan line before your session. Screens in pics=not emotive. Be aware of bra lines, tan lines, + anything else that makes your clothes not support you. You are amazing.
Pro Tip No.06
THOSE DANCING FEET
Some of the best shooting locations rarely have solid ground. Wear shoes you can move in.
I'd avoid neon in shoes at all costs. This applies to stripes on shoes as well as anywhere on any clothing! On the beach shoes won't be a necessity. For in-home: Take off your shoes. Yes, even you, dad. Bare feet pretty much look best in home, always.
Pro Tip No.07
SHOW ME THE SLEEVES
When in doubt, feel free to go with a dress or shirt that has sleeves. A medium crop sleeve right above or below the elbow is flattering on all body types. If you are self-conscious about your arms at all, sleeves may help keep you feeling great in your portraits. Looks nice on everyone.
Pro Tip No.08
ACCESSORIES and DETAILS
Think about adding details. FOR AN OUTDOOR SESSION: Adding in a scarf, necklace, earrings, belt, or even a small bouquet if you want can provide punch to an outfit.
Pro Tip No.09
LARGE GROUP SESSION
Dressing extended family members who live in different homes can be tricky. Keeping all the tips in mind, make it even simpler. Possibly bring it down to one color with some specified neutral shades. Or one neutral shade and specific pops of colors. You could 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're thinking for their immediate families. This might help others pick good complementary colors and patterns. Some members can bring an additional shirt or sweater just in case. Keep colors simple. In general solid-colored clothing will be best - keep away from too many 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 wide patterns or variations of plaid, or thick stripes, that may not look so great. Keep outfits simple. Use overall solid colors. Consider pops of interest with textures, layers, and accessories.
Pro Tip No.10
BABY IT'S COLD OUTSIDE!
In cold weather: Think about ditching the winter jackets and layer up with undershirts and long undies. Add a puffer vest or a scarf for a pop of texture.
Pro Tip No.11
A NEUTRAL COLOR PALETTE
Still stuck? Shades of creams, browns, tans, and neutrals are impossible to screw up and will never go out of style! Just skip all black and white.
Pro Tip No.12
Once you book your session, start thinking of the clothes at few weeks out. You may think certain clothes will fit your kids or that one dress is clean. You may need to order something online. If you wait until the day before, you may run into issues of clothes not fitting, being dirty, etc. Give yourself plenty of time to order or shop.
For a coordinated-but-not-matchy, perfectly imperfect vibe:
Since you’ve started with what you’re wearing, mama, you may have 1-3 colors to pull from already. Use these as your color palette, and dress your family members in each of the colors pulled from your look, or add more colors if your look doesn’t have enough.
If you have more family members to dress, go for lighter or darker shades of those colors. Try to avoid having any two family members dressed in the same color unless it’s broken up between top/bottom, i.e. one family member is wearing blue pants, another can wear a blue shirt.
Work with solid colors, small prints, + textures. The camera loves texture + detail, so use these to add variety and cozy factor when you don’t want your crew to look like a bag of skittles.
Texture = eyelet, stitching, ruffles, knit, thick denim, etc.
OUTFIT FORMULAS FOR THE WHOLE FAM
FAMILY MEMBER 1 (MOM): starting point for the color palette + vibe of the outfits
FAMILY MEMBER 2: SOLID COLOR 1
FAMILY MEMBER 3: SOLID COLOR 2
FAMILY MEMBER 4: SMALL PRINT in color 3
FAMILY MEMBER 5: SMALL PRINT in color 1,2,3, or 4
FAMILY MEMBER 6: SOLID COLOR 3
FAMILY MEMBER 7: SOLID COLOR 4
The more family members you have, the more colors + prints you can introduce.
So, a family of 4 might have a color palette of 3-4 colors, and 1-2 prints. A family of 6 might have a color palette of 4-5 colors and 3-4 prints.
These are more guidelines + a jumping off point than hard + fast rules :)
DON’T FORGET THE EXTRAS! DOS + DON’TS:
Dress like yourselves, but at your best!
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 or a neutral.
Avoid clothing with very thick stripes and big logos. I'd just say no to characters on shirts. Consider choosing clothing that is more timeless.
Clothing with some movement to it is always very very welcomed.
Break the rules. These are suggestions. Your photo shoot should be about you and your family love. Your clothes can help support the feelings you want to feel + create during your session. But 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.
You’re never fully dressed without a smile. :) okay, but seriously--the best possible thing you can bring to your in home session or outdoor session is a willingness to be emotive, loving, and open.
Smaller Children Success Tips:
I don't want the kids to look and smile at me for every picture, so please don't force them.
If you have small kids, I recommend bringing “bribes” or “rewards” only for the very, very end or totally after the session! We can use these “big guns” when they start to lose interest only at the very 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 make the session more enjoyable for them, and help them behave naturally. We can bring it out towards the end of the session, if at all. Just something good to have along if you'd like.
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. Parents being relaxed regardless of what the kids are doing can be huge in a session.
Scroll all the way down for more wardrobe inspiration!
Wardrobe Inspiration Boards