How to Get Dressed for Family Photos

You've booked your family photo session, but you have no idea what to wear. Here are four colorways that photograph well together.

Coming soon: choosing your location. We'll talk about how our outfits should look "at home" in our location. We don't wear a prom dress into the woods, y'all. Now for the techniques:

1. Neutrals
2. Single color
3. Star-of-the-show color
4. Artist's palette
(plus a bonus technique!)

1. Neutrals. A neutral palette is the least risky path, so if wardrobe stresses you out, this is your sweet spot.
Neutrals give you a ton of wiggle room to mix fabric textures and patterns. Don't be afraid to add a piece that doesn't match perfectly.

The neutral but contrasting colors here give us a sense of Evan and Eliza's essence without being distracting.

2. Single Color. The classic family photo move. When done right, it's perfect. Make sure to choose a color that works with each person's natural coloring, and, equally important, won't compete with the background. There's less wiggle room with just one color; take some time to lay everyone's outfits out together and see what works. Remember to have fun with it and color outside the lines ;)
Blue at the beach > florals for spring. It's seamless with the end-of-day shadow tones you only get at the beach.

Even though Logan isn't wearing pink himself, leaning into the blush theme for this session celebrates their princesses-and-glitter stage of life.

3. Star-of-the-Show Color. The formula here is neutrals + 1 – simple enough, right? Everyone wears something neutral, plus one brighter, more saturated color. It works best in families of six or less. My favorite +1 colors are yellow, pink, and red because they read so nicely on film. Pro tip: put Mom or baby in the star color! Here are some other great examples of star-of-the-show colorways.

If adding a star-of-the-show color makes you nervous, do it in a small dose, with a baby cardigan or bright lipstick.

A star-of-the-show color doesn't have to be neon or punchy. And don't forget, red is film's favorite color!

4. Artist's Palette. This is a great way to add interest to your photo if you want to take your wardrobe a step past neutral. Imagine colors you might find near each other on an artist's palette, maybe blended or mixed with a neighboring color. By doing this, you keep things cohesive without using the M-word (matching).

Warm earth tones support each other here, with varying textures and patterns to break up the sameness.

Wardrobe planning for 20 is a big job, amiright? Envisioning an artist's palette helped guide the Wilsons to the sweet spot between haphazard and uniform.

Including the background as part of their palette gave some extra dimension and interest here.

Bonus Technique: The Statement Piece. In my favorite family photo of my family, I used the technique of star-of-the-show (neutrals + 1) and took it a step further with a statement piece: my favorite red jumpsuit covered in constellations. Throwing caution to the wind and owning an awesome piece of clothing brings some levity and straight up fun to a would-be cheesy family photo. And by the way, after 2020, I'm never not wearing a statement piece again :) 

If you made it this far, THANKS! You might like the guide to stress-free family photos. FYI, email subscribers get $50 off family pictures for the 2021 season. Sign up right here and look forward to gorgeous emails every Wednesday morning.