What to wear for your family photo session

You booked family photos with me, and now you’re wondering–What to wear for your family photo session? I know it can be so overwhelming to choose everyone’s outfits, so I am here to help make your life easier!

What to wear for your family photos - family of 4 with a baby and toddler boy cute outfits in a field

Start with your outfit, and style everyone around you

Yes, you who are reading this blog post, who cares the most about these photos, you deserve to look amazing for these family photos. Start with what you want to wear–something that will make you feel comfortable. One thing I need to say up front that is soooo important, these are YOUR photos. If you are not a dress person, DON’T wear a dress! If bright colors and bold patterns are your thing, that is totally cool. While I have my own aesthetic, you are hiring me to create images for YOU, and I want you to walk away with images of you and your family that you are happy with–and that includes wearing clothes that feel like you.

What to wear for your family photos - young family cute outfits go together

All that said, if you want some advice on what I personally like for clothing choices, here goes! My personal preference is neutrals, soft color tones and patterns, and flowy fabrics with lots of texture. I suggest midi or maxi dresses, over short dresses. You don’t want to be worried about undies showing while your squatting down to tickle your toddler. If you’d like to borrow one of my client closet dresses, I’m happy to bring one for you! I also love shopping at stores like Free People, Anthropology, Vici, and Old Navy to find dresses in a variety of price ranges and styles.

If a dress isn’t right for you, jeans, leggings, or olive/khakis work great too! Depending on the time of year, some kind of drapy sweater or honestly just a plain t shirt with some texture works great.

What to wear for your family photos - elegant flowy dress, two little girls, wildflower meadow

Styling men – What to wear for your family photo session

Keep it simple for guys. I suggest jeans or khakis, shorts are fine if its hot out. Plain t shirts, henleys, and sweaters are all good for tops. When its chillier I love layers–like a t shirt under a plaid flannel. This is a great way to add texture and a single pattern. Somethings I suggest avoiding is dressing in business clothes–no need for a suit, tie, fancy pants, or even button down/collared shirts.

What to wear for your family photos - dad wearing sweater with nice texture everyones outfits go together for pictures

Again, if this is your style and this is what you want, its totally fine, but for family photos we’re going for more of a casual, relaxed weekend vibe rather than a fancy event. As far as colors, try to go with what everyone else is wearing, without matching. The goal is not to have everyone in all the same colors, but to have the overall outfits work together.

What to wear for your family photos - family of four with sun behind them in adorable outfits, pastel and bright

Family Photos Outfits for the kids

This is the best part, in my opinion! You usually can’t go wrong with styling the kiddos, which is why I actually prefer to do it last. I find it hardest to find something I like for myself, so I always start with me, and then I choose what my husband will hate the least, and then I can figure out color options for my kids and find the perfect outfits for them 🙂

For girls, dresses are great, rompers are fun (especially for little ones, so we don’t worry about diapers showing–it doesn’t bother me but photoshopping out a diaper is not possible, so just keep this in mind) and pants/shorts with cute tops is great too. You really can’t go wrong. Again, I love neutrals with textures and simple patterns.

What to wear for your family photos - baby outfits cute for two little girls

Cute little details are great, think lace trim, small ruffles (nothing huge and crazy) tie straps, etc. You want their outfits to be adorable, but not the star of the show. I would personally stay away from big puffy princess dresses, but again, these are your photos. So, if your daughter loves it and you love it then let’s do it! Headbands are great for photos too, I just recommend staying away from gigantic bows that will 1. be a pain in the butt to keep in place 2. take focus away from their sweet little face.

For boys, I love henley tops, waffle knit shirts, and sweaters with jeans or khakis, or rompers/overalls for little kids. What is cuter than a baby in overalls with no top under? You can tell I love this because I have done this with my own boys for basically every family photoshoot 🙂 I love neutrals–browns, tans, creams, olives, etc.

What to wear for your family photos - baby boy in overalls

What not to wear for your family photo session

Did you watch What Not To Wear when you were in highschool? I remember that they basically just had moms on that show who had “given up” after they had kids and gave them $5,000 to buy a new wardrobe that did’t include sweatpants. Now that I am in that exact position I am simultaneously annoyed that they made moms feel bad about this but also wishing that maybe I could go on this show because my sweatpants are definitely nicer than the rest of my clothes and I don’t think I’ve even bought new bras for myself since having kids.

Anyways, the thing they always said on what not to wear, is “go together, don’t match.” This is our goal when we’re putting together outfits for family photos. I want you to take everyone’s outfits and lay them out on a bed together. If there are patterns, maybe you see the colors in each of the other outfits. The tones should all go together. There shouldn’t be too much of one color when you’re looking at what to wear for your family photo session. Your family will all be huddled together, so you don’t want everyone wearing exactly the same tone, otherwise your bodies will blend together, but similar colors with different tones are great.

What to wear for your family photos - neutral outfits for family pictures outside

Extended family outfit suggestions

The more people you add, the trickier this can feel. I would still stick to these suggestions, and have each individual family try to style themselves, and not worry too much about everyone looking good all together. Since each family will be balanced, no one will be wild and crazy standing out, so overall the whole group should look balanced. When posing the larger groups, I’ll make sure to move people around so there aren’t bunches of certain colors and it looks good overall. I don’t want you stressing too much about outfits when logistics are already difficult here.

What to wear for your family photos - outfit ideas for a large family

Things I would say NO to?

  • Lots of black
  • Neon bright colors
  • Super loud patterns
  • Everyone matching (for example, all in jeans and white t shirts)
  • Being uncomfortable (this includes shoes!)

As part of my services, I am happy to help you with styling when you’re trying to figure out what to wear for your family photo session. If you want to send me photos of dresses or outfits, or outfit combinations, I am happy to give my opinions or help you choose something to buy, or anything you need. Please do not hesitate to ask!

What to wear for your family photos - jewel tones for gorgeous sunset family photos

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Whitney O'Brien is a Boston newborn photographer with a studio in Dedham, MA. She specializes in natural, timeless portraits of motherhood, including maternity, newborn, milestone, and family sessions.


She serves Boston neighborhoods such as Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park, as well as Dedham, Needham, Newton, Brookline, Westwood, Norwood, Walpole and beyond.


To see my latest work and photos of my own kids, follow me on social media!

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