What to Wear: Family Sessions


When you have photos coming up, the idea of picking out a wardrobe for you and everyone in your family can be more than a little overwhelming. (If I’m being completely honest, when I’m going to be in front of the camera, picking out clothes for a photo session is always my least favorite part!) There are some really easy tricks though that will make selecting outfits easy— and maybe even enjoyable!

First, pick a color palette and stick with it. This is my number one tip! I like to have families pick either a warm or cool color tone and then mix and match from there. This gives your group a cohesive look without being matchy-matchy. (Remember the family photos in the 90’s when everyone in the family would be wearing the same jeans and white t-shirt? That’s exactly what we want to avoid!) So when you’re picking clothes for two or more people, stick with warm or cool and you’re already looking pulled together. For example, you could be in a warm mustard-color cardigan and your fiance’ could be in a maroon v-neck sweater, or the whole family could be in cool colors like blue, gray, and white.


For summer sessions, I really love light, pale, or neutral colors, while fall and winter sessions beg for more dramatic jewel tones.

Second, be comfortable! I don’t mean that you should show up in your favorite pair of yoga pants and a sweatshirt that says “Mom Hair Don’t Care”, but wear clothes that you feel good in and that also fit well. If you are constantly tugging at your clothes, it will show— especially with lifestyle sessions where we aren’t stuck in rigid poses. This second commandment is also super-important when it comes to your footwear! If we are going to be outdoors, there is a good chance we will be walking on uneven surfaces and maybe even crossing small bodies of water. If you really want to wear a certain pair of heels or fancy shoes, feel free to bring them and we can change into them once we get to our location. Otherwise, you can embrace the chicness that is Xtratufs or bring your own Superhero to lift you across rivers. ;)

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Third, think about adding layers. Adding pieces like jewelry, scarves, vests, suspenders, etc., adds dimension and texture to your photos. Plus, some pieces can give us fun things to play with during a session. One caution I have here though is to be really intentional about hats. Something like a fun floppy hat or a little kid in a fedora can be really fun and cute, whereas a Dad in a baseball cap looks like he forgot family photos were scheduled. I understand that some people prefer hats or feel more like themselves when they’re wearing them, which is fine. But, if you’re going to wear a hat, please make sure it doesn’t have any words or logos on it that could be distracting or date your photos.

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Let’s talk things to avoid while we’re at it.

Patterns can be great, as long as you don’t add too many and you keep them within the same cool or warm color tone. They become a problem though when there are too many, don’t fit the cohesive look, or if they are too tiny. (If you have a shirt with really thin stripes or checkered pattern it can create a weird distortion in-camera that will look weird in your photos.)

Again, please make sure you’re avoiding logos and words on clothes.

Also, your wrists will be in almost every photo so please make sure to keep them free of hair ties and watches without sentimental value. (I’m talking more along the lines of an Apple watch or FitBit.)

Next, think about what overall vibe you want to portray in your photos. Alaska lends itself beautifully to a more rustic vibe like flannels, sweaters, and coats. But that doesn’t mean you can’t also dress it up a bit! Flowy dresses work beautifully on women and girls in photos, and bring motion to your movements —which helps if you’re worried about looking too rigid. (Also, I have to admit, moms or daughters in white dresses are my favorites!)

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Normally I am not one to run to Pinterest for photo help because I don’t love recreating people’s pinned photos, but I DO think Pinterest can be a great place for outfit inspiration. You can quickly get a great idea of what you like, and you can also see what doesn’t really work. I have a few ideas pinned here that you can check out.

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