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What to wear to the family photo shoot

Updated: May 27

As a family photographer based in Dallas Fort Worth,  i have worked with many local families.  One of the steps in my workflow is to help families prepare what to wear to the photo shoots. 

Let’s be honest, the outfit choices can make or break the photos! Families oftentimes struggle about what they should wear to put their best foot forward.  Here i summarized a guidance to help you get started.  


Four Words: Go with the season!

  • Spring & Summer: the season of birth and growth, with lots of flowers and greens. Go with warm and neutral colors.

*Tips: if you want to wear a floral dress, go with small floral patterns instead of big ones.

  • Fall: Time of harvest, fall foliage and pumpkins. Go with earthy colors - burned orange, brown, mustard yellow, burgundy, and neutrals. 

  • Winter: lots of neutral colors.  Optionally, you can add a splash of bolder colors to stand out from the monotoned environment.

As you can tell by now, neutral colors are good all year around.  They go with any colors.  So if not sure,  you can always fall back on neutrals.  


Related to color, saturation defines how vibrant the color is. For a timeless look, choose muted and or desaturated color tones.  For example, light yellow instead of bright yellow;  dusty rose instead of hot pink; light blue instead of dark blue.  Lighter colors show more details of the outfit and don't draw too much attention. 


Mix different textures. Use accessories eg. scarves, blanket, shawls to add textures. Fall and winter are wonderful times of year to play with textures.  Think sweaters, beanies, throw blankets.  

  • Flowy but not baggy outfits.  Add a belt to show the shape of the body more with the baggy dress.

  • Choose Maxi or midi dress over mini, good for sitting or laying down.

Styling Tips: 
  • Make mom’s outfit the statement piece and plan other family members from the same color pallets to complement mom’s, or they can always fall into neutral if not sure.

  • Be dressy but still casual.  Avoid lustrous textures (satin, silk) as they tend to be formal. Good for wedding photos but not for family portraits. 

  • Dresses are the best choice for moms. but if you aren’t a dress person, choose pants that are a notch fancier than your everyday jeans, eg. wide legged pants. 


Things you want to avoid:


  • Choose the same outfit for each family member. (matchy-matchy)

  • Wear clothing with bold and distracting colors.

  • Wear clothing with large logos, text or graphics.

  • Wear distracting jewelry or giant watches.


Last but not least, don’t be afraid to break these rules to suit your unique personality and family dynamics. It’s after all your own memories to preserve.  And most importantly, have fun styling!

Bold red is rarely suited for family photos,  but this red dress looks stunning in the desert environment.  It has a slightly orange hue that aligns very well with the orange rock formation and the desert plants. What a statement dress!

Outfits To Buy

If you want to shop, here’s are some of my personal favorite brands to style for family photos. I am by no means earning any commissions from these recommendations.  They are simply based on personal experience and preferences.

  • Anthropologies: unique statement dresses. Boho and sophisticated. $$$

  • Madewell: Inclusive sizings for petite and plus women. $$

  • Free People: Boho and funky.  Great for statement dresses. $$ (This is a gorgeous spring dress)

  • Quince.  Affordable and timeless women's dresses. $

  • H&M: Affordable and stylish choice for kids. $

  • Little planet by carters: lots of neutral colored super cute outfits for babies and toddlers. $

Outfits to Rent

Besides shopping or utilizing your existing wardrobe, don’t forget you also have the option of renting.  Rent the Runway and Nuuly are the prominent rental platforms.  They offer higher priced women's clothes to rent at affordable prices.  Rent the Runway lets you do one-time rental for special occasions, perfect for the photo shoot.  Nuuly offers monthly subscription at an affordable price (which means you have a few more pieces of clothes to indulge in besides the one for the photo shoot) .  I have used them both.  I am also a former Rent the Runway employee.  So ask me any question you might have. I have to admit that browsing through the endless inventory of dresses on their website is a guilty pleasure that I probably spent too much time doing. 😛

I hope this post gives you some direction to get started planning your outfit for the upcoming photo shoot. I'd love to hear what you think and what's missing. If you have any other tips you'd like to share, I am all ears. Happy styling!

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