What To Wear // For Family Pictures

Randomly I’ll receive emails and texts from friends and family saying,

“I’ve got _____ [fill in the blank] coming up, will you help me figure out what to wear?”

My answer, of course, is always a resounding YES! I love fashion and it always brings such a smile to my face to help someone discover a look that lets them shine and enables them to feel beautiful from the inside out. So I thought, why not share that info with the rest of the world? The chances are at least of few of you have been looking for some advice and didn’t know who to ask. If at least one of you can walk away feeling empowered and saying “I can DO this!” then it was all worth it.

One of the most common requests is for help styling a family for photo shoots. I don’t know what it is about getting in front of a camera, but I think it makes even the most style savvy people get a little anxious. Since I’ve got my own family photos on the horizon, the subject has been on my mind [to say the least]. Here’s a couple things to keep in mind when choosing your family’s wardrobe.


The number one key to keeping cohesiveness and consistency in a group is by choosing a color palette. This can be as simple as choosing neutral colors [black, white, cream and beige] or by selecting two to three main colors and building from there.

For this extended family photo shoot, we opted for shades of blue with neutrals. It allowed everyone to reflect their own personality while staying cohesive in a large group.

PC // Cassie Van Boven Photography
PC // Cassie Van Boven Photography

One thing to keep in mind when choosing your palette is where these photos will be displayed. Are they going on the wall of your living room? Pull your color inspiration from that space to keep things cohesive. Are you doing this shoot for a website? Keep the styling complimentary to the styling on your website.


While cohesiveness is important, the days of matchy-matchy photos are gone. So while I’m sure we all have that family photo where the everyone wears the same thing in a box somewhere [like the entire family in jeans with a white or black tee], its time to leave that look in the 90’s and get a little more creative this time around. Whatever color makes you smile and compliments your skin tone – go with that and build from there. Is pink the one color that speaks to your soul? Then wear it. No one else has to. You can be the bold pop of color. As long as your outfits compliment each other, all will be well.

As you can see, we pulled out a lot of different vibrant colors for this shoot, but kept the patterns rather simple.

PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography
PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography

One simple word of caution would be to stay away from stark white or neon tones. Photographers have told me that it can really wash out your skin and mess with the lighting composition.


Always remember that in person, an outfit always looks more interesting because it is three-dimensional. In photography, you are only seeing two dimensions. By playing around with texture, you can create shadows and dimension that becomes really intriguing to the eye.

PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography
PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography

So how do you do this? The simplest way to play with texture is with your accessories. Hats, scarves, leg warmers, headbands and lots of jewelry instantly add that next element to your outfit [not to mention, are easy to switch up during your shoot]. But lets take it to the next level! Layering your clothing is another easy way to add texture. Sweaters, vests and coats can be layered on or off throughout the shoot to continuously change up your look. Leggings or tights under a skirt or dress can completely change the look. Most importantly, take a look at the fabrics you have chosen. Mixing cotton, leather, wool and lace in unique ways will be the ultimate way to achieve a highly textured look.


What about patterns? Patterns are always a great option to play with texture, but admittedly can be a bit tricky. I personally love to play with patterns in photos but the option is completely up to you. If you do, just keep in mind that small prints can get lost in the composition of a photo or end up looking too busy. To play it safe, you can stick with bolder, larger scale patterns. But even if you do vary the size of the patterns, just make sure that they all fall within your palette.

PC // Stephanie Stremler Photography
PC // Stephanie Stremler Photography

As you can see in this shoot, we were able to pull off a lot of different patterns by keeping within our color palette of blue, yellow, and coral.


In all of this, don’t forget to be proud and confident in who you are. The last thing I want is for you to get the impression of “this is how I rock family photos…do what I do”. The whole purpose of family photos is to reflect the best part of you. That someday you or your kids can look back and remember that time in your life with a smile. Don’t pretend to be anybody but who God created you to be! The most beautiful family photos are the ones that reflect your amazing personality. If you keep that in mind, you won’t fail!

PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography
PC // Mike Fiechtner Photography

I hope this helps you feel a little more confident in styling your family for that next shoot. Still have questions? Please feel free to share them in the comments below. Chances are that someone else has the same question and we can all help each other out!

Have an event coming up that you need help figuring out what to wear? Leave me a comment below or email me your suggestion for my next What To Wear.

*I’ve worked with a lot of amazing photographers over the years, right? Please click on the photos to check out their websites and show them some love. They work hard and deserve all the credit for these beautiful photographs!


You may also like