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What to Wear to Your Family Photography Session | North County San Diego

If you have invested in custom, lifestyle photography you are likely very excited to plan out your session. You want to be sure that the session runs smoothly, from location selection (see my post here) to preparing your kids ahead of time (read post here). But what about wardrobe? Outfit selection can be the most fun thing of the planning process or the most stressful. To help you look and feel your best, I provide a custom styling session where we pull items together from your closet or from my stash of tried and true outfits.

Here are nine tips to help you plan what to wear for your family photo session.

I. MOM’s Rule!

Mom, this is your time to shine. You have invested your time and dollars into this photo session, and you need to look like your gorgeous, true, beautiful self. Find your outfit first, and make it something makes you feel wonderful. You may choose something from my client closet, or buy yourself something special. Once you know what to wear, you can coordinate the family's around yours.


Wear something loose and flowing. This will add depth to your images by creating the sensation of long lines and movement.

Wear something long. This will create a unifying color palette for your lower body and will be flattering for seated poses.

what would I wear for photos on the beach

II. Be Yourself

Lifestyle photography is meant to capture your family lifestyle.

If you are a jeans and boots kind of gal, wear that. Add a poncho or scarf or wrap to create the fluid lines we are looking for.

If you are romantic and earthy, dress romantic and earthy.

If your children hate wearing dresses or button down shirts, don’t force them. It is important that you dress your best in your own style.

mom wearing dress that makes her feel gorgeous at Torrey Pines La Jolla family photographer

III. Avoid the “Matchy Matchy”

Your family's outfits should coordinate but in general, they should NOT MATCH. In everyday life you don't match everyone's outfits, neither should you in your photos. That being said, dressing twins or young siblings in similar outfits works when the rest of the family is dressed differently.

coordinate family outfits for San Diego beach photographs

When deciding what to wear, consider diversity in color, texture, or patterns. For for example, the overall palette can be whites and tans, and then you can add diversity by choosing different patterns or textures for individual family members.

siblings wear coordinated colors to beach family photo session in San Diego

Choose colors that compliment each other. Create a pinterest board of your own, or check out my pinterest page for some great wardrobe planning ideas.

IV. Please, no Fluorescent Colors or Bold Graphics

If your child wears a neon green athletic shirt, his or her face will pick up the color and they will look like a bright neon green crayon. 😆 Avoid bold graphics as they compete with the face and tend to become dated. This being said, if your toddler is set on wearing his lightening McQueen shirt or his Spiderman costume, we will work it in! There is always room for a wardrobe change in these situations.

V. Shoes and Accessories are important

Think about how your shoes and accessories will coordinate with your clothing. These items can add pops of color and create unity in the overall wardrobe look and feel.

how to accessorize for family beach photos

VII. If Your Daughter is Wearing a Dress or Skirt, Don't Forget the Bloomers / Shorts

When wearing a skirt or dress, add a pair of bloomers or have them wear a pair of mini-shorts underneath. Beautiful photos can be ruined by undergarments and diapers peeking out of dresses.

San Diego beach family photographer

VIII. Can't Choose? Let's Do Both!

When you are torn between two different outfits, we can work in a wardrobe switch mid-session. This will give you two different looks in one shoot!

IX. These are Guidelines, Not Rules

When you know, you know. Go with your hunches and don't second guess. In the end, these are your memories to enjoy!


MJ Falvey is a beach photographer who documents stories of love and connection. She specializes in in active, vibrant, and joyful photography of people and pets on San Diego's beautiful beaches, especially those of North County San Diego: Oceanside, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Del Mar and La Jolla.

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