A family portrait at the beach

What to Wear to a Family Photography Session

After finding the perfect photographer to take photos of your family, the next step is to pick the family outfits. To help plan what to wear to a family photography session, here’s a simple guide to help you choose picture-perfect wardrobe options to make your family portraits look amazing.

When preparing for a family photoshoot, consider using fitting yet comfortable clothes. You also have to consider colors and patterns depending on your shoot’s location and season. These considerations should then influence the accessories and makeup.

Based on experience and tons of shoots, you can mix and match these clothes to look the best in your San Diego family portrait sessions.

Fitting Yet Comfortable Clothes

Some people tend to sacrifice comfort over aesthetics. While this sounds obvious, the key to having spectacular family photos is to make yourself comfortable so that you can smile and move freely. This involves making sure you wear fitting yet comfortable outfits.

Clothes that feel restricting can make you feel irritated or fidgety, and such emotions may manifest in your facial expressions. Thus, it’s best to find a balance between comfort and figure-flattering outfits.

An outdoor family photoshoot

  • It’s best to wear breathable clothing during family photoshoots, including cotton shirts, linen blouses, or tops with bamboo fibers. 
  • It’s vital you choose the best fabric for clothing because heavy materials like denim and flannels may trap sweat and cling to your skin. This may form sweat marks that can ruin your outfit and make you feel itchy.
  • Shorts, shirts, jumpers, and dresses are timeless outfit choices for children.
  • For the mothers, choose flattering layers with textures. Be mindful in wearing sleeveless tops as these may show bra straps.
  • Pregnant women may wear snug clothes to contour the bump.
  • For fathers, it’s ideal to wear a button-down or neutral-colored shirt. You can leave the shirt untucked and make sure you can roll the sleeves.
  • Check the length. You may throw kids in the air and lift your arms a lot, so don’t wear a shirt or dress that’s too short.

Location-Appropriate Clothes

Some families want indoor studio photo sessions, while others prefer outdoor setups. With this in mind, you also have to consider if the outfits would go well with the location.

For instance, use flowy, neutral-colored clothes if you want a beach portrait setup in San Diego. Meanwhile, you can select casual clothing with pops of colors for studio photoshoots. These can be light-colored pants paired with neutral color palette tops.

Moreover, footwear should complement the clothes and accessories. Family portraits also involve playing, so it’s a good idea to wear closed-toe shoes, like dress shoes, boots, or sneakers.

Seasonal Styled Clothing

While you can schedule family portrait shoots at any time of the year, your preferred San Diego photography location and date of the shoot also mean you need to consider the weather. Remember to dress for the weather, especially for outdoor shoots.

Wear coats, fleeces, and beanies during the winter and autumn seasons, especially since kids quickly get cold. Meanwhile, you can take advantage of the spring weather and wear oversized shirts with light and pastel colors.

Breezy clothes made of light cotton and sheers are perfect for the summer. In contrast, the cozy fall season is ideal for layering gold, brown, and rusty orange pieces.

Outfits With Complementary Color Schemes

In art, colors serve as an act of persuasion that affects a person’s mood and emotions. This is why colors can influence 90% of an initial impression. The same applies to family portraits, as the color of your clothes can affect an image’s mood and tone. 

Color schemes allow you to show your family’s personality and even match your home decorations.

  • Black and dark color combinations are suitable for formal indoor sessions.
  • Go for plain colors if you want to avoid distractions so that the focus will be on you rather than the clothes. However, note that light colors would be the brightest parts of the images, making them the most noticeable.
  • Teenagers and young adults usually want to stick with their own sense of style. However, if you wish to wear matching clothes, agree on a theme to avoid a chaos of patterns and colors.
  • Opt for lighter tones when using a dark background, such as a black studio backdrop or dense woodland outdoors. In this way, your family won’t blend into the environment. 
  • Make sure that the personalities of each family member shine with the colors. For example, bright pops of crimson, yellow, and denim are perfect for energy-filled portrait sessions.

Family wearing clothing with matching color schemes for a portrait shoot

Simple Clothing for Newborns and Babies

While a professional family portrait photographer knows how to instruct the most flattering poses, the little ones can better shine using simple clothes that show their small physiques.

  • One of the challenges of doing family portraits is that newborns and babies get easily overstimulated due to clothes and movements. This is why it’s easier to use simple onesies, swaddles, or even just diapers, to keep the little ones comfortable.
  • It will be a matter of time before your baby’s body parts grow. It’s best not to bury your child’s tiny body features beneath layers of tulle. Using a fitted dress or onesie would let the little hands and feet shine in the photos.
  • Toddlers with bursts of energy would try to move or run during a shoot. Be sure that the top’s straps won’t fall off the shoulders or sweaters won’t ride up when they become active.
  • Choose neutral-colored textured clothes or limit the design. Some prints can go out of style. Besides, oversized logos, texts, characters, and graphic patterns can draw attention away from the charming face of your babies.

Minimal Accessories and Makeup

Since this is a family photography session, you only need minimal accessories and natural makeup. You can also include sentimental pieces, such as wristwatches from your grandparents or a hand-me-down blanket.

Whatever you choose, be sure that the accessories and makeup flatter your complexion and give you a more contoured appearance. If you are still unsure of what to wear, you can take inspiration from our family portrait portfolio.


With these styling tips, you won’t have to spend a long time preparing outfits for parents, teenagers, children, and newborns. All there’s left to do is to pose confidently in front of the camera. You can also create photo albums or custom home decors as memorabilia for years to come.

Similar Posts