Once you get through the hurdle of finding a great Family Photographer and then actually BOOKING them, the very next thought is usually, “Wait! What do I wear for the session?”
As a documentary-style photographer, I like to keep things pretty easy and stress-free. The most important thing is to pick outfits that are simple and clean so YOU and your family are the focus of the photos.
Textures and layers can add depth and interest to your clothing without drawing too much attention. And your interior design is worth considering since it’ll play a role in the aesthetic of your photos.
Finally, having a few different options is always a good idea in case something isn’t working together or your toddler spills milk all over your shirt!
Don’t hesitate to ask your photographer for a “wardrobe check” before getting started to make sure everything will look great on camera.
Check out my Family Photography Page for more info on a session with me!
I find that starting with a list of things to AVOID can make it easier when it comes to selecting outfits. This will help point you in the right direction.
Ultimately, the goal is to avoid having any distractions. We don’t want anything to pull the eye away from your faces in the images. Not even your fabulous new romper.
An all-black outfit, for instance, will absorb light, causing us to lose details in the images. Typically, black is a flattering color, but if you wear all-black, you could blend into the background too easily.
All-white does the opposite. It reflects light in every direction and can create exposure challenges for the camera by blowing out your outfit, making it much brighter than everything else in the frame.
When it comes to text, I prefer to avoid it completely. The first thing we look for in photographs are faces. The second thing is— you guessed it – writing. It’s our instinct to read any words in an image. That’s not something you want to draw attention to in your family photos.
Although there are photographers (and families) out there who lean towards the matchy-matchy look, I’m personally not a fan. The main reason has to do with what I mentioned earlier about avoiding distractions. When everyone is dressed the same, the outfits draw attention to themselves and take away from the connection between family members.
Finally, as much as punchy colors or intricate patterns can work to enhance your personality, we don’t want any one individual to stand out too much in the context of family photos. The idea is to capture your connection with each other. So it works best to have everyone on the same plane. Save the bold patterns for your branding photo session!
If I had to summarize the advice that I give to my clients, this would be it—
Especially with documentary-style photography, you want your images to reflect a day in your life. Not the day the photographer came over. Pick something that you and your family members would actually wear, maybe even something that has meaning to you, so your photos really feel like you.
During your session, you’ll be playing with your kids, sitting on the ground, moving around, etc. Make sure your outfit is actually comfortable, and not just visually appealing. The same goes for the kids and your partner. Avoid anything restrictive or that you’re too precious about.
Remember that the point of the photos is to capture all of you together – your connection, your dynamic, and your relationships with each other. If one person’s outfit is too flashy, it could take away from the whole. So do a quick visual check to make sure everyone’s outfits kind of go together.
If you’re having an at-home session, your interior design is going to play a role in the aesthetic of your photos. Make note of the colors you see in the areas you’d like to take photos in, and make sure they work with the outfits you’re wearing.
Here are some examples of outfits that worked great for family photos! I’ll walk you through each of them and tell you why I think they worked.
This family wore mostly solid colors that were slightly muted, so the overall palette works well together and the eye is drawn to their faces in the photo. But choosing an off-white, textured t-shirt for their toddler, it adds a layer of interest without becoming distracting.
This mom went with an orange patterned dress. It works because the pattern is small and therefore, not distracting, and has a muted color that complements the other colors in her home.
Although, generally speaking, I recommend avoiding bright colors, in this case we were doing some maternity-style photos after this couple’s toddler went down for a nap. Since it was just the two of them, mom wore this orange outfit and dad kept his pale blue shirt. The colors complement each other, and the dress works harmoniously with mom’s skin tones. It was a great outfit to bring more attention to mom and baby-to-be.
Do you still feel like you could use some more hands-on help when it comes to picking outfits?
Reach out to me regarding your session and I’ll be happy to walk you through the process! I send out a preparation guide once clients have completed the booking process so you can prepare for our session together. I’m also available by phone or email for any concerns you may have pertaining to your session.
Get in touch to find out more!
©marjorie cohen photography | los angeles photographer