Tag Archives: tips on clothing for family photos

One of the most asked questions before any photo session is about what to wear. This depends on the type of session and the season, but I have general guidelines that I give to with my families. Since Fall is a busy time for photographers as families gather for Holiday card photos, I am sharing some Fall inspiration and tips. 

gorgeous family is cuddling and smiling at their baby boy

First off, everyone has their own unique style and taste so try not to dress exactly alike. I think it’s important that whatever you choose to wear, you feel like you’re you. If you wear jeans every day, wear them to your session! Be sure to dress everyone comfortably, because you’ll be walking, moving and playing during your session.

little girl is smiling as she holds her parents

Most of my family sessions are documentary where you’ll be doing things that you enjoy together as a family. Even for lifestyle sessions, you’ll want to be sure that your outfit works well for cuddling, tossing a toddler in the air or giving out snacks. I, personally, don’t like to adjust or tuck in my clothes every time I pick up the baby or bend down.

toddler girl in an adorable shirt dress is splashing in the water

Complementary colors and patterns are nice so they don’t clash. I usually reserve patterns for one or two family members and use those colors to coordinate the other outfits. Don’t forget accessories like jewelry, belts or shoes to show off your style. For guys, layers are nice.

a little boy is laughing as he wear dark sunglasses

Finally, some fights are just not worth it. If your child has their heart set on their favorite outfit, just accept it for that season in life. I promise you that you’ll look back on the photos and smile at the ridiculous thing that your child wore. My boys practically live in gym shorts… And they both dislike nothing more than collared shirts. They also like to wear one color for top and bottom. Awesome.  

We can discuss your outfits at length before your session if you’d like. I really want to shoot a documentary session with the whole family in pajamas so hit me up if that describes your family!

A couple of months ago, it was time for my own family’s portraits… Every year, since our first son was born, we’ve scheduled a family photo session. I love, love, love having our family documented year after year for all of the same reasons that I love capturing those memories and milestones and tiny details for my own clients. And thanks to our annual family photo sessions, I know all too well all of the planning that goes into being in front of my camera :) But this year, I decided to invest into making my life easier by hiring professionals for everything. Best decision!!

I think I have pretty good insight into what works well when it comes to “What to Wear,” but I was really struggling to find the time to plan ahead and sort out our wardrobe choices so I hired Little Apple Styles to style us for our session. Ericka was fabulous in coming up with a color palette, advising me on clothing choices, and, together, we selected outfits that I loved. Many things we owned already, a few things I purchased new for our session (I found a great sale that coordinated beautifully with the looks I was going for!). All of it was completely cost effective and perfectly us. And so much easier with Ericka’s help! Most years, I’m scrambling to find outfits the day of (cover your ears, dear clients, do NOT do this!) – sometimes I’m lucky, other times, I hate what I’m wearing. This year, I was thrilled with our wardrobe!

The other professionals that were huge life and time savers this year were hair and makeup artists. The last time I had my hair done was at my wedding… And I’ve never had professional makeup, not even at my wedding. I was nervous about this the day of our session, especially because I basically had no earthly idea what I should do about my hair and makeup. Thankfully, the professionals knew what I should look like. Based on their prep work, they knew that I’m a makeup minimalist (understatement of the year), wear my hair in a messy bun 98% of the time and definitely want to look like my everyday me but better. Much better. And I absolutely loved the results, especially my hair!

Wardrobe, styling and makeup choices really can make or break a photo session. Makeup is so often just an afterthought for a photo session, and it definitely shouldn’t be! A pro makeup artist knows exactly how to apply makeup for the camera. As a mom of young children, I loved being pampered a bit right before our session and appreciated that the makeup covered some of those dark circles under my eyes :) It also made getting ready much less stressful. Small hands weren’t tugging at me while I was attempting something with my hair in the bathroom this time, no one was interrupting me before I had a chance to finish applying makeup. Just imagine being a mom with a tiny newborn in your arms and all you really had to focus on was the baby before your newborn photo session! I highly recommend this experience. 

By the time our photographer, Colie, came to our house,  I felt pretty and more confident going in front of the camera. And that’s not easy for me, because I’d rather be behind the camera any day of the week. Any day… But investing into professional help was by far one of the best things I could have done to ensure that we loved our photos that much more.

dc nova birth photographer | tips for better family photos
dc nova birth photographer | tips for better family photos
dc nova birth photographer | tips for better family photos
dc nova birth photographer | tips for better family photos
dc nova birth photographer | tips for better family photos

Colie captured my family so beautifully! We made sure to get some family portraits, but we mostly just did what we normally do together in our neighborhood (looking a whole lot better than we usually do, of course). We played, we were silly, we snacked, we read books. It was lots of fun and very much us. I’m still going through all of our files, deciding on how best to display our new family photos (I struggle with this just as much as I know my clients do!), but I’m excited to share just a few favorites. Thank you so much for these beautiful photos of my family, Colie! 

Photography: Colie James

Styling: Little Apple Styles

Hair and Makeup: Best Face Artists

Are you ready for your own family portraits? Get in touch with me here! My weekend spots always fill up quickly so don’t wait.

fall is a busy time for family photos, and why not, right? it’s a beautiful time of year, the leaves are changing, and those photos are perfect as holiday gifts and for holiday cards. i know trying to figure out what to wear for those family photos can be frustrating, which is why my clients receive a whole tip sheet from me on what to wear. here’s a little summary of what i share with my clients:

the first thing I always tell my clients is that they should be themselves. throw out any preconceived ideas of what you think you should wear just because great-grandma Louise is expecting a poster-sized print of one of your photos. Look through your wardrobe for that outfit that makes you feel like a rock star or use your session as an excuse to buy a new outfit that matches your style.

clothing advice for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com

complementary colors will give you a cohesive look without everyone being matchy-matchy.

clothing advice for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com

I loooooooove a pop of color! Don’t be afraid.

clothing advice for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com

You can always kick it up a notch with layers and accessories. a scarf, jewelry, some funky shoes, a fun belt – my own go-to pieces are bracelets and shoes.

what to wear for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com

Lastly and most importantly, have fun with your outfits and your session. If you’re uncomfortable, it’ll show in your photos.

clothing advice for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com

rock on. You got this. but if you’re still unsure, i’m happy to brainstorm or look at your outfit choices with you!

clothing advice for family portraits | www.stefanieharrington.com