What to Wear for Family Photos

September 6, 2017

Last week, I talked about my fall mini sessions. I know a few people from my mailing list said they want to do photos, but are so overwhelmed with what to wear. I completely understand! We had our family photos done in July, and I was so overwhelmed by what to wear – and I’m the expert. I realized, I could talk about outfits for hours, but I wanted to give you a quick and basic breakdown. My goal is to make this easier – not harder – for you. At the end of the post, I’ll share one of our family photos!!

1. DO NOT leave your outfits until the last minute. You’ll want plenty of time to shop (in stores or in your closet) and make sure that you’re not doing laundry at 11pm the night before your 8am session (like I did), because the outfit you want your husband to wear is dirty (because you didn’t tell him not to wear it that week). Give yourself plenty of time to plan, so it doesn’t stress you out. Because stress isn’t what you want to be wearing to your photo session.

What to wear for Photos // Emily Wenzel Photography

2. Start with your own outfit. I’ll be honest, I find it the hardest to dress myself. It’s easy for me to pick out clothes for my husband and babe, but when I look at my own closet, I turn into a blubbering idiot, crying in the corner. So, start with your own outfit, and build everything else around that. For us, I knew I wanted photos of me wearing my babe, so I started out by laying out the the ring sling I was considering, and picked a dress that went with it. My ring sling is a mix of greens, whites, and blues, so I went with a coral and white striped dress for me. Normally, I’d encourage you to add some accessories, but I’m not a big jewelry person (and little miss is at the pulling stage) so I kept it simple this time. Remember: You want to feel comfortable in what you’re wearing. The dress I chose for our session is one I’ve worn dozens of times. I’ve worn it to shoot weddings, and to climb mountains in Greece. I love it, I know I look amazing in it, and that made me feel good being in front of the camera.

Spokane Engagement Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

3. Mix, match, and layer. Long gone are the days of everyone in blue jeans and white tees. While some photographers like you stick to neutrals, I prefer when my clients use pattern and color! Stick with a color palette – for us, that was blue, green, and coral – but mixed it up the colors and each of us wore more than one color. In the image up top, you’ll see that Alyssa & family wore maroon, grey, and white for their family photos last fall. She even rocked a little touch of sequin gold – which I loved – and they were all in rich colors with lots of texture. Right above this, you’ll see that Misha is wearing a red sweater, and Tony’s plaid shirt has a similar hue of red running through it at their winter engagement session.

Spokane Lifestyle Family Photographer // Emily Wenzel Photography

4. Pay attention to when and where you’re doing family photos. If you’re doing family photos outside in the winter, you’re going to want bright, bold colors. They’re going to pop when everything else is kind of bleak. Spring makes me think of soft pastels, summer has rich and vibrant colors, and fall is all about those jewel tones. For us, we did our photos down by the river, and I knew the blues would look great with that, and that they would be more casual. Want to wear something glam? Talk to your photographer about a downtown location, not a field or a forest. For a newborn or at home lifestyle session? Wear more neutrals and let your surroundings – or kids – shine.

Spokane Fall Mini Sessions // Emily Wenzel Photography

5. Wear something you love. I know I mentioned this above, but it needs to be repeated. Wear something you feel good in. Not just you, but everyone in the session. Because it’s hard to be nervous in your favorite shirt. If you don’t ever wear dresses or skirts, don’t pick your photo session to be the day you decide to wear them. You’ll feel awkward – not glamorous.

Lastly, if you’re not sure — just ask me! I love to help my couples and families find outfits that make them feel amazing. I want you to love your photos 100%, and that starts with loving how you look in the photos.

Family Photos by April EglyFamily photos by April Egly Photography.


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photo of the author, she has dark wavy hair, brown glasses, and red lipstick on. She is wearing a grey shirt.


Servus! I’m Emily and you’ve found my little corner of the internet, where I write about travel, intentionally living with less stuff, and living as a German-American family in Munich, Germany.  Want to know more?