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  • Kim Lloyd Photography

What do I wear for my family photo shoot???

Updated: Oct 3, 2023

From talking with my clients, one of the biggest challenges to scheduling a photography session is figuring out what to wear. The good news is that it's really not that complicated, provided you follow a few simple guidelines:

1. Dress for your personal style! If you love dresses, wear a dress! If your husband never wears jeans, don't ask him to wear them for your photography session. These images should reflect who you are as a family but also who you are as individuals. EVERYONE should feel comfortable with what they are wearing or their discomfort may come across in the photographs. With that said, you're not paying for images of your kids in their pajamas (which is what my kids would want to wear) so there does need to be some compromise. More on that later...

2. Coordinate your color scheme! Gone are the days where everyone in the family is dressed in khaki and white (been there, done that) or black and denim (been there, done that too). Color makes your family portraits amazing!!!

There are a few ways to go about choosing what color scheme to go with though. If you know where you want to hang your family portraits, you can choose your color scheme based on the colors of the room where the images will be displayed.

The second option is to choose your colors based on an item of clothing you know you want included in the session. If you've worked with me before, you know I often advocate having mom choose her outfit first and building off of that (especially if you have kids who don't care what they wear). Moms are usually the most critical of themselves (we need to change this, moms... we're spectacular!!) so it's really important to me that "mom" is happy with what she is wearing.

Family in coordinating clothing hugging

However, it can sometimes be hard to find patterned adult clothing with options to build from. On the other hand, children's clothing is full of patterns and bright colors and can make a great base to start building your wardrobe from, as with these families here....

When creating a coordinating wardrobe for your family, I recommend choosing one piece of clothing and building the remaining wardrobe for the rest of family using colors in the pattern or print. It's fine to mix and match patterns as long as everyone isn't in one, like pairing a patterned dress with a solid top and printed shorts. Layers and different textures are also great ways to enhance your images (although layers can be hard to manage in the Florida heat unless you're lucky enough to have a session during our two-week-long winter).

While I believe that working off of a pattern is the easiest way to go, you can create an amazing wardrobe for your photography session even if you don't have a pattern to work from. You just need to choose other clothing that compliments the original color you have chosen to work with. Pinterest is great for this but you can also visit your local paint store for paint swatches that include complementary colors and choose clothing based on the complementary color palette. When working with large groups, this is usually the best way to coordinate clothing so that everyone looks good together.

If you have children with strong opinions about what they want (or do NOT want) to wear for the session (that would be my girls!), you may need to compromise. I have clients that bring two outfits for their to wear for the family session and one for them to change into for a quick "peace-keeping" five-minute-photography session. If all else fails, there's always the option of bribing them with ice cream after the session is over. The best way to get your child's buy-in with a photography session is to make sure they are in clothing that is comfortable. No one wants to be in itchy clothes that are too hot, but for kids, it will turn your session into a nightmare!!

3. Have fun with accessories!! This is YOUR session so if hats/bowties/suspenders are your thing, go for it!! Accessories add an element of interest to your images and can, in most cases, be removed for part of the session, adding more variety to the images in your session. Jewelry can also help make a "good" outfit spectacular, if that's your thing. Just be yourself and have fun with it!

Now that you know how to create an amazing wardrobe for your photography session, here are a few things to avoid:

1. Clothing with large logos or characters on them....these are very distracting and draw the viewers eye away from you and your lovely family.

2. Dressing everyone in pastels or white...everyone in white (or pastels) is difficult to expose for (especially on the beach), doesn't create interest visually and can be hard to distinguish between outfits (when everyone's wearing something similar). A combination of lights and darks is preferred for a more balanced look.

3. Too many's okay to have more than one person in clothing with a print or pattern as long as there are a few people in solids to balance the look. This is where accessories and jewelry can help balance out the look and give more variety and individuality to each person's wardrobe.

Where should you look for wardrobe ideas?

Again, it depends on your style. I'm an Old Navy-type of girl so that is one of my go-to places to look for ideas for myself and my almost-tweens. H&M has some great stuff for kids too, especially if they're older. H&M, Gap, Boden and Anthropologie are great options for adults!

Ultimately, you want the images from your photography session to reflect your family's style and personality. Choosing what to wear for your family photo shoot shouldn't be stressful. Just relax, choose colors you love in comfortable styles and have fun with it! You are going to look AMAZING!!!

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