Spring Family Sessions: 7 Tips for What to Wear { Delaware Family Photographer | Philadelphia Family Photographer }

I hope you had the chance to get outside this past Saturday and enjoy some sunshine. We can all admit, the weather in our area has been C.r.A.z.Y this past year, and seeing a hint of spring this weekend had our family jumping for joy! (Literally–my five-year-old daughter insists that we stopped everything that we were doing to enjoy the newest buds and colors that she spotted… All. Weekend. Long.)

With the early buds of the season, we know that warmer weather is just around the corner…

And so are family photo sessions!

I wanted to take some time to share with you my top 7 tips for what to wear for your family portrait session. I scheduled my own family photos a week ago, and I kid you not, I followed each and every one of these steps myself so my portraits would be equally amazing as all of yours will be!

Note: I’m writing this as if I’m speaking to all of the mama’s out there, since that’s *usually* who dose the planning. But seriously, if it’s Dad who is planning the session and outfits, then rock on, Dad, and just change the pronouns to fit to your own narrative!


7 Tips for What to Wear for Your Family Portrait Sessions


1. —> GO SHOPPING BY YOURSELF. Seriously, leave the kids at home with the hubby and take a day! You deserve it, mama! Ok, really though, I know that I need to F.O.C.U.S when I’m shopping for specific things, and I didn’t want to worry about losing children (or husbands) in the store, having sighs of boredom from the kids (or hubby) as I try on clothing, or have kids (or hubby) picking EVERYTHING off the racks because “they like it.” I’ve gotta concentrate! So that was that. I said I needed a day, and hubby said, “Have fun!” and off I went.


2. —> DECIDE YOUR COLOR SCHEME BEFORE YOU GO SHOPPING (and have multiple options that you’ll consider). Before I headed out on my own, I talked color schemes over with the hubby. We narrowed it down to blues (but not midnight blue, navy blue, or royal blue. More like robin’s egg blue, or a pastel blue, whatever I’d be able to find). We also settled on very light yellows, if the blue didn’t work out. Our living room (where I wanted to hang these portraits) is a blueish gray, so yellows or blues would be perfect. Going with a few different color options helped to give me more choices when I went to the store.


-Soft (light pinks, light blues, light yellows, etc)

-Neutral (beige, grey, tan, cream or white)

-Earthy (greens, browns)


-Bright (magenta / hot pink, bright turquoise, orange, neon)

Colors can be tricky. The very bright colors can actually reflect off of your face and turn your face the color of your shirt, especially magenta and turquoise. Reds, blues, greens and pinks are ALL OK, if they’re not overly bright shades of the colors. (Sigh. I know. So much to think about! This is why I said to go alone!)



3. —> PICK YOUR OWN OUTFIT FIRST. I spent the first two hours (yikes!) trying on my own outfits. I had it narrowed down to these two:

I turned to good ole’ Facebook to see what everyone liked best, and sure enough, #2 was the winner. I almost chose #1 despite the voting, because I’m usually pretty simple and plain. But Facebook land won… and I chose the patterned one. I’ll get to patterns later. But first, on to #4…


4. —> MAKE SURE YOUR OUTFIT PASSES THE COMFORT TEST. If you’re not comfortable in your outfit, it will show in your portraits! If you have little ones that you’ll be chasing, throwing, tickling, smooching, and sitting with, be sure to choose an outfit that you can move in. I liked that #2 was long, so I didn’t have to worry about getting down on the ground. Both tops were cut pretty high, so I also didn’t have to worry about bending too far over, but… keep that in mind when looking or your own! And yes, I even did squats in the dressing room to make sure I would be able to interact with my kids without feeling awkward…



5. —> PATTERNS ARE OK… IF DONE CORRECTLY. Patterns are a hot topic for debate among portrait artists. I have some general rules of thumb when it comes to selecting patterns.


-The bigger the better

-Only one person in a pattern. Everyone else coordinates along with those colors

-Large floral prints or large flannel is fine by me


-Teeny tiny, itty bitty patterns

-Pin stripes (I’d probably stay away from stripes all together, but occasionally bigger, bolder stripes can be OK)

-Polka dots

-Competing patterns in your family (Suzie in flowers, Jack in flannel, mom in stripes… no, no, no)

When I decided that my dress would incorporate patterns, I then had to make the conscious effort to put the rest of the family in solids. Any other patterns would have been competing and made the image way too busy. This dress had a lot of colors that I could play off of, so I was able to have a lot of choices when I went looking for everyone else. (On the flip side, if Dad ends up in a bolder flannel shirt, mom should be in solids. Or, if kids are in prints, mom and dad should be in solids. See why mom needs to choose her outfit first? It’s hard enough finding something to wear without having to worry about these details!)


6. —> MATCHING VS. COORDINATING: IT’S 2019, NOT 1990. You may have a family portrait of you when you were younger where everyone is in khakis and a white polo shirt. It was kinda cool (LOL) back in our childhood to have everyone matching. These days, though, we’re all about letting everyone SHINE. Each person is their own individual, so instead of making everyone dress the same, just be sure that colors and textures “coordinate” instead of always “matching.” Hold your choices up all together. Does your eye flow freely through the options, or are you immediately drawn to one outfit over another?

I did the mirror selfie again with the outfits I picked for my daughter and son. Originally I had found THE most adorable dress for my daughter, but when I held it up as a collection, it was too fancy for what I had put together. We like to dress up, but we’re more “casual-dressy” than “formal-dressy” (and my son has to be bribed to wear “handsome clothes,” as he calls it, so a solid polo was already pushing the limits enough!) When I got home, I pulled some of my husband’s shirts to finalize the outfit. He chose a blue button-down (his other option was a green). It was the most comfortable shirt for him… and dad’s need to be comfortable, too!


7. COLLARS AND LOGOS. Speaking of Dad’s. It’s just as important for Dad to be comfortable as it is for Mom, but unless he’s planning on being the next model for Nike or Under Armour, it’s important to avoid shirts with logos on them. Your attention will immediately go to that logo. It can be tough to avoid, especially if Dad is a polo-type of guy, but it can be done. Collars are another thing to keep in mind. Often times, dress shirts will have a stiff collar which tends to jut into Dad’s neck (or even cheek, if not buttoned all of the way), and no amount of posing or turning to awkward angles will help to solve the collar-in-to-cheek-problem. Make sure that collars lay nicely on Dad. Make him to the comfort test, too! Can he look in all directions without his collar getting in the way? If yes, then it’s probably the perfect shirt!


Voila! Your outfits are complete! Did it take you as long as it took me? I was probably shopping for at least three hours… or maybe I was going slowly on purpose… enjoying the time by myself…

See you soon for your spring portraits!

Photo courtesy of Jennifer McHugh Photography