What to Wear for Family Photos

San Antonio Family Photography

One of the biggest questions I get is what to wear for family photos. It can be a difficult task when you have multiple children to dress, and it can get interesting if you have a picky child.

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My biggest inspiration comes from Pinterest. Whenever I need to dress up for an event or coordinate outfits for a themed party or plan for my son’s birthday party, Pinterest is where I go first. Even if it’s finding ideas for my nails or home decor, I love this app so much.

Now, I will say, use Pinterest for inspiration, but don’t get worked up over the “Pinterest look” or even the Instagram facade. Your family is unique and special, so find something that makes you look and feel confident!

Here are two simple steps to getting your family ready for family photos:

  1. Find a pattern for your color palette.
  2. Choose complimenting colors.

1. Use a pattern as your color palette.

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Photo by Emily Anne Photography

I always like to start with a pattern, especially because I personally love floral patterns. To me, this is the easiest place to start.

I am the only girl in my family between my husband and my son (and they could care less about fashion), so I pick my dress first. I choose something that flatters me because I am bigger. I choose a dress that has some sleeve to it, and I often go for longer dresses just so it looks formal. But again, choose a dress or blouse fit that flatters your body type.

For my bigger family photos, it was a little more difficult to coordinate because there are 11 of us! We simply had a conversation about colors, and we chose maroon/plum based on this initial Pinterest color palette. Again, this was for inspiration, and we ended up doing navy and maroon with pops of mustard.

My sister-in-law and I also found a few floral-printed dresses from Old Navy, which gave us that base palette for the rest of the outfits.

(I will say, I am not happy with how my little family’s outfits came out haha. We had initially agreed on blue jean (not navy blue), so I wish I would’ve gotten my husband a navy or solid maroon shirt. To me, his light shirt with my light dress throw us off balance — if I’m being picky. Also, my dress isn’t my favorite, but I couldn’t find anything new, so I went with one I had. My brother’s family looked perfect though… and my parents!) Overall, I’m happy that we got a great family photo of all 11 of us! Miracles do happen!

2. Choose complimenting colors

Once you have a pattern, you can use that dress or blouse to choose your complimenting colors for the other members.

In our big family photo, we used my youngest niece’s dress initially to work off of. Then when she found my older niece’s dress with a bit of yellow, we were able to confidently have my dad wear mustard and my brother wear a lighter yellow.

Multiple patterns: Yes or no?

We do have a few different patterns — my nieces and I are in floral and my nephew is in plaid.Some may think it’s too busy, but I think it works. (Again, my dress.. ehh. LOL)

I personally do not like matching patterns, so I’m glad my nieces do not have the exact same dress. But I understand if you have twins, this is something you may want.

As far as my nephew’s seemingly random pattern, it added another bit of contrast. Plus, he’s so cute; anything he wears is great!

Below are some tips on colors I recommend for spring vs. fall family photos:

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Planning for your spring family session

Start with a base color:

  • A brighter tone of blue, either aqua or light blue for a more whimsical look. You can even do a blue jean dress for mom or a little girl.
  • Olive or mint green
  • For darker spring colors, you can do a navy or forest green, but then add light complimenting colors.

Then add complimenting colors:

  • Blush
  • Off-white
  • Mustard
  • Coral or peach
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Planning for your fall family session

Start with a base color:

  • Maroon/Plum/Burgundy
  • Olive or forest green
  • Navy blue

Then add complimenting colors:

  • Maroon/Plum/Burgundy
  • Olive or forest green
  • Navy blue

So I hope this all helps a little. This was once a question I shied away from when I was just beginning, but I’ve learned over the years what works well together.

I’ve also had a couple of clients show up with the infamous matching white shirt and jeans outfits. That, I would say, is my biggest no-no. Do not show up all in black shirts and jeans or white shirts in jeans.

And don’t worry if you’ve done this before. It’s the easiest way to coordinate outfits for sure, but it makes an even better photo if you can find 2-3 complimenting colors and incorporate a least one pattern instead of all matching.

Here are some other families that I’ve photographed who I think did a great job:

As you can see, they have 1-2 base colors and added in 1-2 patterns.

If you ever need help before a session or just want to check in with me beforehand, please feel free to contact me!

You can also add a stylist to your session. I have a friend who is great at fashion and is willing to offer her services. She chose the outfits for my friends (photo right).

I’d love to do another blog like this with my go-to stores to shop for family session outfits, so subscribe below to get notifications when I post.

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