Spring and Summer Family Photos - What to Wear Inspiration & Style Guide
Updated: Jul 29, 2021
I absolutely love shooting family portraits! Spring and summer are perfect for outdoor pictures. The vibrant colours of flowers in the park are the perfect backdrop to complement your portraits. The warmer weather allows us to be outside without coats and shooting in the evening during sunset is ideal for lighting and is a few degrees cooler than mid-day.
Are you looking for family photo outfit ideas? This guide will help you choose the best outfits for your portrait session. Here’s a step-by-step process on how to choose the best attire for your session. I’m also going to include an insider tip: where photographers shop! These brands are well known in the industry for using colours, textures and fine details that photograph well.
1) CHOOSE CLASSIC OVER TRENDY
I recommend choosing classic attire that will still look amazing in 15 years. Super trendy clothes are fun because they look amazing now, but won’t look so great once the trends change.
2) CONSIDER THE LOCATION
Before you even choose your outfits, talk to your photographer about location options and what you most prefer. Would you like a casual beach session or will you be dressed up downtown? Will you be frolicking through wildflower fields or hiking to an amazing waterfall location in Hamilton? Your location actually matters a lot as you choose your outfits. Consider the overall feeling you are going for as you select your outfits and then work with your photographer to choose a suitable location.
3) START WITH A PATTERN OUTFIT FIRST
Its often hard to where to begin, but think of it as building blocks. Start with one outfit and then you can build up from there. I usually begin with a pattern outfit - this might be a dress for mom or daughter, since women’s clothing tends to have more colours and prints. My best advice is for you to wear a dress in your favourite colour and make sure its a style that you feel comfortable in If you're not into dresses, think about a fancy pantsuit, but choose something that is dresser than your everyday look. Opt for high quality fabrics because they hang better.
4) CHOOSE A COLOUR PALETTE
After you’ve chosen mom’s outfit, think about 2-3 coordinating colors, some neutral and one of which pops and brings life to the outfits. The color palette you choose will affect your appearance and the overall look of your photo. Warmer colors like peach, ivory, and browns, will give your photos a soft glowing look, while bold and vivid colors like yellow and purple will produce a brighter and sharper appearance.
5) COORDINATE, DON’T MATCH
Choose colors that complement each other but are not overly matchy-matchy. For example, avoid wearing the same color top as your spouse or putting your girls in the same matching dresses.
After mom’s outfit is chosen, begin to find 2-3 coordinating colors that complement. Need more inspiration? Check out my Pinterest board!
6) ADD VARIETY WITH SUBTLE TEXTURES OR PATTERNS
Add extra interest to your photos and create dimension by having primarily solids with a few coordinating subtle patterns and textures. Patterns are great in small doses and add a lot of variety to your photo. Please try to avoid bold, large prints that can distract from the photo though. You want your family photos to be about you and not your outfits. Layers are another way to add variety with cardigans, or scarves.
7) CONSIDER YOUR SHOES
Shoes make the outfit! Consider your photoshoot location; if you’re going to be in a field or cobblestone walkway, you won’t be able to walk wearing stilettos. If it’s a must for you to wear heels, wear flats to the session and bring your heels in a bag. If you’re going for a more formal portrait, avoid athletic sneakers, and kids’ shoes with cartoon characters or sparkles. Match your socks to your shoes: don’t wear white socks with black dress shoes. If you just can’t find shoes you love, consider having the family go barefoot for your session - would be perfect for a beach theme (just bring shoes to walk around at the location!)
8) DRESS FOR THE WEATHER
Layers are the perfect solution for those chilly evenings or sweltering summer days. Remember, little ones get colder more quickly than adults so make sure to always pack a sweater or cute cardigan for them.
9) DON’T WAIT TO TRY ON YOUR CLOTHES
Make sure you try on your clothes well in advance so you will have time to switch outfits if something is not right. Look at your outfit from different angles and try sitting to make sure that you are comfortable.
10) COORDINATE WITH YOUR INTERIOR STYLE
Think about where you would like to display your portraits? If you’re going to invest time, energy and money on a family photo shoot, I recommend that you print your images. A professional photo print will last a lifetime, and with our 100 year archival inks, often times a few generations. If you’re planning on displaying your photos in your living room, consider coordinating your outfit to complement your the area where are you’re going to hang your artwork. For example, If your home is decorated in white, beige or muted tones don’t wear bold and bright outfits.
11) ONLY ONE OUTFIT NEEDED
If you’re doing an outdoor family session stick to one outfit only. Little kids usually hate changing their clothes and will end up being cranky for the second half of your session. In addition it will take valuable time away from your session. If you happen to have a drooling baby put a bid on them until right before their session or change them into their photo outfit right when you arrive to ensure dry clothing.
You want to feel comfortable for your session. You don’t want an outfit that's itchy or a top that keeps shifting out of place or falling down. Choose clothing that allows you to play with your kids, move freely and feels good on you. For guys this means that shirts that look good untucked are usually better since you will be playing and moving around with your kids and you don’t want to have to keep tucking in your shirt.
Don’t forget to accessorize with jewelry - earrings, bracelets, hats, or other accessories that help complete your outfit. Little ones look adorable with a little bow tie and hair bows and little girls might enjoy dressing up with a cute bracelet.
Make sure you apply your makeup in natural light so that you know how it will look for your outdoor photos. Apply just a little bit more than you usually would and make sure to blend foundation well with your neck. Avoid nude lipsticks as they wash you out, but do make sure to wear a lip gloss. If anyone in the family has dry lips - make sure to bring along some Chapstick. If you’re comfortable with it, help your eyes pop with natural length faux eyelashes.
OVERSIZED OR OVERLY TIGHT CLOTHING
Steer clear of cargo shorts, baggy jeans, and oversized clothing .Clothing that is overly tight and clings to you is uncomfortable and can leave bulges and bumps in places you just don’t want.
Thin stripes will distort in printed photos (called moire) and appear zig-zaggy and should be avoided.
Neon and bright colors will reflect onto your face, causing skin tone problems in your photos. That bright yellow or neon green shirt will reflect upwards on your face and cause you to look yellow or green!
LOGOS OR TEXT
Logos or text on clothing are distracting. Avoid shirts that have big logos - even just a simple Nike check mark or Polo horse could be distracting.
Guys, it’s best to avoid wearing white undershirts that hang out of the top of your shirt or sleeves.
ATHLETIC FABRIC POLO SHIRTS
You might love your quick-dry polo but they tend to cling to your body (and not always in the best places).... it’s not really the look you want to go for in your family session. Avoid athletic polos or quick-dry shirts as and opt for more timeless fabrics.
White tennis shoes, athletic shoes, and character shoes (think Disney princess shoes) should all be avoided. Leather shoes, casual sneakers (think Converse), sandals, slide-on canvas shoes, and wedges are all great options.
BABY OUTFITS WITH DIAPERS PEEKING OUT
An adorably cute moment with your baby can be ruined by the blue-lined diaper that is hanging out of a little romper or dress. Ensure you babies outfit fits well and use a diaper cover if needed. Avoid baby clothing that doesn’t completely cover those little diapers.
If you typically wear glasses, wear them for your session. But if you have polarized or transitional lenses, consider taking them off. Dark glasses will cover your eyes in the photos
WHERE TO SHOP:
For mom: H&M, Old Navy, J. Crew, Zara
For dad: J. Crew, Zara, Gap, H&M, Target, Old Navy
For kids and baby: Zara, Baby Gap, Old Navy