What to Wear For Family Photos

Updated: Dec 19, 2018

Tips for Styling a Family Photo Session

Are you looking for ideas on what to wear in a family photo session? Knowing what to wear in for family pictures can be daunting. It’s easy to get caught up in finding the “perfect outfits” for everyone. My advice is to wear what makes you feel great. This will keep you relaxed - and it really shows in the photos. Where to start? Here are some tips for creating the ideal family picture wardrobe:

Lead with the Location

twin photo shoot at mountain valley ranch in san diego ca
These toddler twins dressed ideally for their pumpkin patch family photo shoot. Their outfits of jeans and plaid shirts are a great look for the backdrop of hay bales and antique farm equipment

The location and time of year set the stage for the overall look and feel of the family photos. A big meadow or park can create the perfect setting for a vintage or bo-ho feel, while the beach calls for something light and colorful. A fall family photo session can be inspired by falling leaves, while rich jewel tones do well in a winter session.

Mom Rules

Mom, you need to feel comfortable, confident and beautiful. Do you prefer pants or dresses? Casual or formal? What are your favorite colors? Let’s get you set, and then go from there.

Add Variety and Color (but not too much)

Childrens photo in Balboa Park, San Diego
The girls' dress sets the stage and the boy's outfits pick up colors from her dress.

Once mom’s colors are chosen, the rest of the family goes from there. It’s best to mix types of clothing to avoid a “matchy matchy” feel. For example, have one child wear long sleeves and shorts, and the other wear short sleeves and pants. Have a mix of collared shirts and polos. Dresses and skirts. You get the idea.

Layers and Accessories will Pull Everything Together

childrens photos in balboa park san diego
Does a superman cape count as an accessory? When you are a four-year old super hero it does!

Hats, Scarves, An oxford shirt left open over a t-shirt, a denim jacket over a lace top. These details will pull everything together.

Keep Little Ones in a Separate Color

Little ones are often being held for photos. Dress them in a color that complements mom and dad. This way they will stand out.

Shine your shoes or clean your feet

Shoes are often overlooked. Heels can flatter legs, enhance posture and create a long line. Keep everyone’s footwear in good condition. Kids look good in ballet flats, Mary Janes, sneakers, loafers or topsiders. If you choose to go barefoot, have clean feet and nails.

Lay Everything Out

Lay out mom’s outfit. Then add in the rest of the family’s wardrobe. This technique provides an excellent visual display. Take a picture and send it to your photographer for feedback. He/she can help you work through the process so that you create the perfect wardrobe for family photos.


MJ Falvey is a San Diego lifestyle family photographer who documents stories of love and connection. She specializes in in active, vibrant, and joyful photos of newborns, children and adults. You can reach her at https://www.maryjofalvey.com