Family Photo Guide: What to Wear

February 24, 2020

The most common question I get when it comes to family photos is “what should we wear?!” I do family photos with my own family every single year and this is definitely the biggest stressor for me when it comes to family pics. After going through the entire process a few months ago, I finally decided to put together this how to guide on what to consider and hopefully help you all to look and feel awesome for your family pics!

1. Where are your family photos going to be?
When we did family pics last fall, this was the main factor for how I picked out our outfits. I fell in love with Antelope Island the first time I shot there and I’d always wanted to do family pics there. I knew that the location was very neutral and light, so we decided to go with blacks and greys to help us stand out! I love the contrast of the dark against the light background and anyone that knows me, knows I love wearing black (photographer problems) 😉 and it came together exactly how I pictured it in my head!

antelope island,

antelope island,

(HUGE Thanks to my awesome friend Ashley for the pics!)

You don’t have to go with the straight black look when you’re in a neutral location either. The Craner’s did darker reds and blues with a touch of mustard yellow that turned out so awesome against this lighter field
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The reverse works great too! If you wear lighter outfits against a dark background like the Jackson family did against these darker trees it adds a nice contrast to the pics to make sure the focus stays on your sweet family!

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If you’re heart isn’t set on a certain location, I have a long list of different places that I’m always happy to recommend! Sometimes figuring out where you’re going helps you visualize what you should be wearing. If you have an idea about what you’d like to wear already, I can pick out the perfect spot based on your outfits as well.

2. Casual vs. Formal Outfits: What’s your Style?
Another thing to take into consideration is if you want a formal or a more casual look. If you feel your best when you’re all dressed up, dresses and suits always look amazing for family pics
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If jeans and flannel are more of your jam, stick with that! Definitely don’t change your personal style for one family photo or you’ll get the photos back and definitely won’t feel like you look like yourself. I LOVE the cute floppy hats that are really in style right now but that isn’t what I wear so I couldn’t include that in my family pics. That look is totally Amber’s style and it added such a fun touch to their pics
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3. Start with your outfit first
Since mom’s are usually the ones putting these pics together, it’s important to start with your outfit first. If you feel great in what you’re wearing it’s much easier to put together the other outfits around your outfit. I also love it when moms add that pop of color or the fun patter that ties everyone else’s outfits together!
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4. Textures, Patterns, and Layering
The one thing that I always recommend to people trying to figure out family photo outfits is try not to be too matchy. The best way to tie everyone together using different colors is to try to include different textures, patterns, and too layer when you can. Jackets, with different fabrics, accessories like scarves or even shoes can help bring colors in from other outfits. Definitely don’t be afraid of patterns, but nothing too out there or that clashes with any other patterns that you might include. The Johansen family checks off all of these boxes!

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I love that Laura’s fur vest adds a little texture and ties in with the lighter outfits. All of the layers in the boys outfits and simple accessories tied everything together perfectly!

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If you’ve ever asked me for family photo examples, I’ve probably sent you the Chamberlains family pictures. They are so good at balancing pops of color and choosing perfect color families! Fun fact: These family pics were a surprise from David (the dad) to Shawna (the mom) so David put all of the outfits together!

5. Kid Comfort
This one definitely applies for when your kids are really little and it’s something I had to discover for myself. When you’re picking out your kid’s outfits, make sure it’s something that they’re comfortable in and that works with the weather. Make sure it’s something they can move in, remove any tags that might be itchy or annoying, and make it as weather appropriate as you can. You don’t want to be pulling into your location and have your 4 year old start whining about how they don’t like the clothes they’re wearing. I love outfits that kids can run, jump, and play in so we can get those fun candids that always end up being the favorite photos. A test run in the outfits your considering for your littles goes a long way!

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6. All about Extended Family Photos
Extended family photos always adds another layer to choosing outfits. More than half of the battle is actually getting everyone together and you want to document the occasion but how do you coordinate outfit choices for large groups? I usually tell people to stick with what you know everyone will have. My family was all together for Thanksgiving, and my mom decided she wanted a family photo for Christmas Cards. She knew we all had blacks and greys (we’d done our family pics the month before) so it was easy to pull together outfits at the last minute!

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Remember how I said I had personal experience when it came to kids and outfit comfort? Please notice the $5 bill in Reagan’s hand in our cute family photo. We literally had to bribe her to go out in the snow for pictures. You do what you’ve gotta do!

Another thing to think about when it comes to extended family pictures is making sure that not only does the overall group fit together, but making sure the smaller family groups’ outfits flow as well. I do photos for all of the individual families whenever I do an extended family shoot so making sure each individual family has all of the different colors included is always a great idea! The Baker family was the perfect example of this.

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Hopefully that’s a good jumping off point for picking out family photos! I’m always happy to help, and if you’re having a hard time deciding what to wear, send some pics my way. If you guys feel great in what you’re wearing, you’re pictures will turn out great!

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