Photographers talk all the time about what they think you should wear for your family photography session, myself included. In fact, when you book a session with me, I will send you a whole welcome and style guide. But the truth of the matter is, there are a lot of different options when it comes to planning outfits for a family photo session. I thought it would be fun to take a look at my recommendations of what NOT to wear to your next family photo session.
Men, please no shorts!
I am posting this one first because it’s a huge pet peeve of mine! Haven’t you ever noticed? Men’s legs don’t really photograph that well. (sorry guys!) Men look so much better in khaki pants, slacks or jeans. This rule doesn’t apply to very small children. And of course, I’ve had sessions where it’s been over 90 degrees, then it’s ok. Because that brings me to my next rule…
Always wear clothes that you will be comfortable in. When I say be comfortable, I mean be yourself. If you aren’t a dressy family, then be more casual.
Make sure your clothing flatters your body, fits well, and that you feel confident wearing it. Garments that allow movement, yet still fit well, are definitely a plus, especially for little children. Since my photography is more candid, and less posed, we will be moving around a lot. Women should avoid high heels and tall wedges.
Women, avoid short dresses and sleeveless tops.
And while we are on the topic of women, I have found that women are very conscious of two things – their arms and their necks. If don’t like your arms, then wear sleeves, it’s as simple as that. It’ll look so much nicer!
I, for one, love pretty dresses and wear them whenever I can. However, for an active family photography session, a short dress can significantly limit your ability to pose comfortably for your photos. Test out your favorite dress to see if it’s appropriate for your session by sitting on the ground. If you cannot comfortably sit in it, it will be best to choose a dress that is more flow-y, longer, or opt for pants.
Stay away from bright neon colors.
Please stay away from bright colors – anything magenta, bright yellow, bright green, etc. can create a color cast back on your face. No one wants a neon face! Neutral color, rich tones, and jeweled tones work really well. Also, avoid wearing all white and all black for the same reason.
Patterns & Stripes are ok within reason.
There’s nothing wrong with wearing patterns and stripes. Just make sure they go with the color theme you select and include plenty of neutrals to carry them through. Avoid patterns that are too busy. Pair small patterns or big stripes with some textured pieces and you’re all set!
And please be sure to stay away anything with logos or graphics. Baseball caps are a big no-no or practically any other kind of hat. Though you’ll see fashionable hats on Pinterest, that fashionable hat will leave a shadow over your eyes and a red ring around your forehead.
Coordinate, don’t match.
I think we can all remember those gap commercial from the 90’s, with matching khaki pants or blue jeans with white shirts. These days, however, the trend is to coordinate, not match for a couple of reasons. First, this is the best way to show off each family member’s unique personality. And second, not every outfit looks good on every person. Those white shirts will wash out most skin tones, and not every cut works on every body.
A word about small children.
There are just a couple of things to note when dressing small children. We want to help them look as adorable as they already are, and be comfortable. Let’s face it, we want your little ones to be happy!
Those headbands are cute, but if we are moving around they won’t stay put. Instead opt for barrettes with bows, or pretty hair ties. And whenever possible, stay away from collared shirts on babies and toddlers! Their clothes have a tendency to ride up when being held and end up blocking their faces.
***Please keep in mind, these are only my recommendations, based on photographing families for the past several years. At the end of the day, it something I mentioned here makes you happy, then by all means, please wear it! <3
Are you interested in planning your family’s annual portrait session? Is a new baby on the way?
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Linda Sobolewski is an on-location, natural-light, professional photographer specializing in seniors, baby, family & children photography.
Linda Sobolewski Photography is based out of Old Saybrook, CT and serves the Connecticut shoreline and surrounding areas.