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What to Wear to a Family Photo Shoot

Coordinated outfits are icing on the cake of spectacular photos! The most important thing to remember when it deciding what to wear is keep it simple. Avoid distracting accessories and crazy patterns. Stick with colors that go well together. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, start with Mom’s outfit and build on that. Or pick a simple pattern for one person and then pull colors from it. Here are a few more tips & tricks to help you with what to wear to a family photo shoot to get the most out of your photo shoot:

Coordinate, Don't Match

I'll be honest, I don't enjoy photographing matching outfits! The mini me thing is cute cute in it's own way, but I don't believe that the cuteness translates in the photos. It's like, too cutesy and sometimes a little funny. Not at all the vibe I go for in photos. So instead, decide on two to four colors that go well together. The goal isn’t for each family member to wear the same exact thing but for the outfits to jive together. Click here for some ideas.

When done right, bold colors and patterns can look really nice! The trick is not to mix too many patterns and pull a color from the pattern.

When in Doubt, Stick to Solids

A subtle pattern to add in a little variety is fine, but try to limit crazy prints and patterns as much as possible. A funky animal print or character on a kid’s t-shirt can be quite distracting on the final photo. Also, try to avoid sentences and numbers on clothing because it will take the attention away from your gorgeous faces!

A Little Pop of Color

You can't go wrong with neutrals mixed with a single pop of color. Below mom and dad chose to wear white and gray and then dressed their baby in a purple dress with neutral tights.

Simple, Solid, & Neutral

I don't believe you can have too much simplicity. Especially inside the home, solids and neutral colors work great! And you can never go wrong with a baby in a simple, white onesie. The solid colors help keep the focus on the faces and the newborn. And a simple white onesie is really all you need!

Pro Tip 1: Search Pinterest for Eye Shadow Color Palettes

Eye shadow color palettes can inspire unique color combinations! You might find something that you wouldn't think would go well together, but it Go this route if you're wanting something a bit more bold.

Pro Tip 2: Minimize the Bling

Too many accessories are distracting and can take the attention away from others in the photo. I recommend removing scrunchies, hair ties, watches, and large bracelets from wrists. Also be mindful of bandages and that sort of thing.

Pro Tip 3: Consider your Background

Make sure your clothes won’t blend in with your background. Is your shoot in the woods? Try to limit greens in your clothing. Taking Christmas photos in the snow? Then steer clear of white so I don’t lose you!

A special note to all you overachievers out there: If you're going for the gold, consider your home decor and how your outfit color choices will mesh with it.

What to Wear to a Family Photo Shoot: In-Home Sessions

I strongly recommend neutral and solid colors for in-home shoots. This is because homes tend to have stuff in them, sometimes more stuff than we want and I want your outfit to stand out from your background. Going the simple route is even more important for in-home sessions.

Winter Sessions

Layers will be your best friend. Wear an under shirt, another shirt, then another warmer layer. Feel free to add in scarves and hats. Bring your winter jacket and we can take breaks to warm up. Bring a snow suit or body suit for babies. It's more important that a baby is warm and happy for photos than dressed in the perfect outfit.

Maternity Photos

For maternity shoots, I recommend a dress with a lot of flow. This helps me capture movement. If you're opposed to a dress, this can also be a flowy top. If you're whole family will be in on the shoot, definitely start planning with your outfit and pull colors from it for everyone else's outfits. You're the star of the show, my dear!

And don't be afraid to let it all hang out. If you're comfortable with it, I say do the bare belly shots. These can be taken with a flattering swim top, regular bra, bandeau bra, or other kind of cover up.

Style Guide!

Have a session scheduled with me? I'll be sending you my more detailed style guide, but don't be afraid to reach out! You can also send me a few pics of your outfits and we can chat about it.


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Located in Minneapolis, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. She's known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

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