The outfit(s) can make the photo.

One of the most common questions I am asked prior to a session is, “What should we wear?” I am happy to discuss your clothing choices and help you make sure your clothing coordinates well with the location or backdrop chosen for your photo shoot.  Here are a few tips to start with:

Use colors & patterns

Colors can make a photo pop! Color is everywhere around us and adds vibrancy and joy! Add color to your outfit choices to bring this same brightness to your photos! Do be sure the colors you choose coordinate with each other. You don’t want to look like one big rainbow family. (Unless you want to look like a rainbow family! Then all the colors of the rainbow it is!) When picking patterns, choose smaller patterns that do not distract attention away from the main subject(s). Use patterns sparingly. If one person is wearing a print, try to avoid putting someone else in a competing pattern.

Many textures and fabrics photograph amazingly, but choose textures that that will give photos some interest such as lace, faux fur, or corduroy.

Avoid large logo’s, emblems, and graphics. These will typically distract attention away from your smiling faces. We want your faces and emotion to be the focus, not the clothing company you purchased from.

Let your personalities SHINE!

Perhaps the most important “rule” is be you! The purpose of these photos is to capture everyone as they truly are today, to capture the family, the relationships, and people in the photos just as they are in this moment in time. Forcing children to wear outfits that are uncomfortable may cause anxiety and stress, which may prevent me from really capturing their personalities during the session. (Same goes for adults.) Wear clothing you feel good in. If your child wears a pair of rain boots everywhere they go, let them wear the rain boots for pictures! Remember, you want to capture everyone as they are now. Capture these moments before they change!

Coordinate outfits

Coordinate don’t match: You want outfits to coordinate. This does not mean everyone should match exactly (e.g., all red shirts and blue jeans). You want to complement each other’s outfits by choosing colors (and sometimes — but careful here — patterns) that work well together.

Of course, if we’re talking about holiday pajama scenes, matching pajamas are amazing!

Personalize it

These are your images, and of course you want them to speak volumes about you and your family. Discuss things your family enjoys doing together and bring “props” and accessories that will help compliment who you are. Does Dad have a favorite hat? Does your daughter have a favorite stuffed animal? What about that train your son won’t sleep without? Bring along items that will represent who each individual is and who your family is collectively.

Consider a themed session. For example, if your family enjoys playing music together, bring instruments to your session and play for me! If your family enjoys boating, suggest doing your session on a boat or near the water.

Dress for the season & location

You want your images to make sense. You wouldn’t wear jeans, boots, and a jacket to the beach in the summer, so why would you for pictures? Dress the part and be aware of your location. For example, if we are planning a session at the beach, mom might wear a sundress and sandals, dad could be in a short sleeve shirt and shorts or pants (which might be rolled up), your little girl could wear a sweet spring or summer romper or dress, etc. You want to make sure everyone is wearing a similar style and coordinating colors/patterns.


One of my favorite “tips” for clothing choices is layering. In the summer months, this may be more difficult to pull off but during other seasons, definitely layer your outfits. Not only will layering provide more visual interest in each photo, but it also allows quick variety in shots and poses. Have a ton of images of yourself in just your dress or cute top and jeans? Throw on a little sweater or jacket and a hat, and you have entirely different look.

Plan ahead

Make sure you have given yourself enough time to think about all the details of your session. Plan ahead so that 1.) you can truly think about your photos and everything you want out of the session, 2.) you aren’t rushing and stressing out right before your session, and 3.) if you have decided to go for a new look for your session or someone gets a bad haircut, you still have time to fix things if you need to ?

Remember where you came from

I always encourage clients to think about their home, decor, colors, and style. Chances are, at some point after your session, you will be ordering prints or digital files. Why not keep your your decor in mind and ensure that it all blends into your home? This will ensure that any large portraits will coordinate beautifully.

Keep make up natural

Avoid using very heavy makeup, but a bit of color on your lips, eyes, and cheeks will help bring you to life in photos. You may consider bringing some lip gloss with you as well.

Ladies & their shoes

I’m all for a sassy pair of shoes; however, they may make for a very long and painful session. If you plan on wearing heels, be sure to bring a pair of flats or flip flops that can help you get from point A to point B without any pain. You can just swap them out as you need to.

If I were building outfits for my family, this is how I would do it:

Keeping your location and season in mind, start with one person. Don’t try and think of everyone at the same time. I find that mom or a little girl makes the most sense since they may be the ones wearing a print. For example, let’s say mom will be wearing a floral print dress (small pretty pattern). Next, move on to the next person. Pull colors from mom’s dress and think about who in the family would look good in which colors.  If Dad doesn’t look good in “X” color since it tends to drown out the tone in his skin, pick “Y” color for him instead.  Finally, come up with ideas to personalize the session. Does your little boy may have a train or teddy bear he never parts with?  Be sure to bring that with you. Does your little girl may like making accessories?  Have her make a cute matching headband or clip for her hair.  Does Mom love daisies? Pick some up on your way to the session. Make thoughtful choices and be sure to discuss the ideas with me if you have questions!

Happy planning!

Do feel free to reach out to me to run any outfit combinations or questions by me. I love planning sessions!