Deciding what to wear for family portraits can be a challenge.  Do you go shopping, do you use what you have, where the heck do you start?  Start by reading this blog, and then contact me for a personal consultation on what to wear.

Be comfy.

You will be moving and posing, and possibly chasing kids, so make sure what everyone is wearing moves well.

Light weight dresses, shorts and shirts are semi-formal and comfortable for summer pictures when it’s hot outside. They also allow you to move easily and chase a small child around a farm field!

Check Your Closets.

It’s amazing what you find when you dig.  To save time, only shop after you’ve gone through all the options you have.  You might find all you need to buy is a pair of shoes or one shirt instead of a complete outfit for each person.

Plan the kids’ outfits first.

It will be much easier to plan the adult outfits around them.  Chances are if you need to shop it will be for the kids, because they out grow clothing frequently and might need new clothes anyway.

portrait of a girl in a hat and paisley dress
A colorful pattern with a simple hat makes for a bright, fun kid’s portrait.

Avoid character faces.

Find fun patterns and pair with classic accessories for a bright and colorful look.  Big logos can be on clothing if wearing gear from your favorite sports team, or if your child has a special shirt like a big sister/big brother tee.  However, if you want to convey a whimsical look you don’t need cartoon character shirts to do it.  Shirts with cartoon faces on them can look funky if your child moves and the fabric wrinkles up.

Avoid Matching Too Much.

Instead of everyone wearing one color, pick 2-3 colors that you like.  You will display your portraits in your home, so think about your living space and what colors will look best with it too.

a family portrait on lake ann in chanhassen
Sonja is a pro at picking color schemes for family portraits! Everyone is wearing similar colors, but no one is matching exactly.

Pack your Bug Spray.

Family pictures at sunset are ideal.  In the woods, in the fields, around a lake.  It’s also when the mosquitos come out to play.  I bring bug spray with me, but you should bring your preferred brand too, especially if your kids have allergies or sensitivities to bug bites.

Dress For The Occasion.

If you’re doing a holiday card photos in the summer, consider bringing along outfits that reflect this season.  You can start in your summer clothes and put the second outfit on at the last half the shoot so you won’t sweat as much.

These pictures for Fourth of July were done right after the leaves came out, before we actually had July like weather.
These red, white and blue themed portraits for Fourth of July were done right after the leaves came out, before we actually had July like weather.

Bring a back up outfit.

Jumping in puddles, finding mud and getting dirty is what kids are good at when you put them in clothing that needs to stay clean.  Have 2 outfits even if you plan on doing one.  This way it’s no big deal if the unexpected happens, we can just change and continue to shoot.

If It’s Cold Bundle Up.

Dress the kids in layers.  Simple things like matching hats can pull an outdoor picture together and make outwear look nice!

Matching hats and coordinating colors bring together these outfits from a chilly November portrait session in the fall leaves.

When In Doubt Ask For Help.

Send your photographer texts or social media messages with clothing choice pictures.  I will be happy to tell you what looks good together and give suggestions based on my experience.


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I am a wedding and portrait photographer located in Belle Plaine, Minnesota.  I travel through the Twin Cities and state wide for beautiful outdoor and location portraits

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