What to Wear for Family Photos

Over the years I’ve had people ask what to wear for family photos, and I never really answered them because I didn’t know what to say.  Usually it’s just been Benson and me and we didn’t put much thought into what we wore together.  Then, Addie was born and, regrettably, we still didn’t ever take professional family pics.  Finally I looked at her one day when she was over a YEAR old soaking in how cute she was, thinking about how she’ll never be this age again, and getting frustrated that I couldn’t ever capture great pictures of her expressions because a) I’m not a good photographer, and b) she moved too much and too quickly.  Haha, gosh, those little people!  

So, we finally did it!  Professional pics!  The shoot happened to be in October so we used them for our Christmas cards too.

Of course came the challenge of what to wear.  Most of you have probably taken your family holiday card pics already, but I included my thought process anyway, in case you want to take some organized family photos while you spend time with family during the rest of the holidays.  Impromptu, we usually get behind a tripod, but it’s usually not planned very well, the lighting sucks, and our outfits all look drab and dull.  After seeing photos from our professional shoot where we’re all coordinated, I think I’d love to try to get our families coordinating outfits for a family shot, even if it’s just with a tripod.  Based on our past crappy pictures, I think it’ll go a long way!

a.  I scoured Pinterest for family photos and asked myself, “What do I like about what they’re wearing?  What do I dislike?”  Not groundbreaking, but helpful nonetheless.


  • When they coordinated but didn’t match
  • When the overall vibe was lighter rather than darker and dramatic
  • Combinations of soft neutrals like, grey, white, and navy (rather than black) and muted tones rather than saturated ones (like mustard yellow rather than hot pink or bright red) 
  • When 3 colors were used, with maybe just one accent color.  
  • White!  I saw family pics with grey or black as neutrals, but I realized my very favorites were when white was one of the colors.  I also felt like for our family with medium complexions and dark hair, incorporating white would help lighten the vibe of the pictures.  
  • A little bit of pattern, but not so many patterns that they clash.  
  • When everyone was wearing different colored bottoms.  It made the photos more interesting.

  • When everyone was wearing blue jeans.  I preferred being coordinated rather than matchy-matchy, so everyone wearing the same bottoms felt too uniform to me.  
Some of my likes might be your dislikes, or vice versa.  That’s all just personal preference, so there’s not really a right or wrong in that regard!
Our colors ended up being white, blue, and tan.  And, since Addie’s puppy and the pink in her shoes made it in, I guess a little pink too.  😉  I wasn’t sure if the third color would be tan or grey, but based on the pieces Benson and Addie had in their wardrobes as well as what seemed like would pop more, I chose tan.  

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Do you like being more uniform, coordinated but not matchy-matchy, or have no preference at all?
  • Do you prefer lighter and brighter pics, saturated pics, or darker vibes?  
  • Do you like more neutrals, muted colors, or saturated colors?  Maybe neutrals with a pop of a saturated color?  Neutrals with a pop of a muted color?  etc. 
  • Do you like all solids, all patterns, or want some patterns mixed together?

b.  What are my goals for the shoot?
I wanted to capture Addie and our family in our most natural mode.  I didn’t want us glammed up, rather how our family would be on a normal day.  I mostly wanted to remember our current relationship with Addie, and that included things like us lying on the grass, her climbing on us, and us swinging her around.  We knew we would be at a park on grass and dirt, and that meant we wore more casual clothing instead of getting dressed up.

Your goals might be the opposite.  You might want to have everyone dressed up!  Perhaps in a future family shoot we’ll dress up a little more, because those kinds of pics are fun to have too.  Or maybe you just want a nice family picture where everyone is together and you look cohesive, fancy or casual aside.  Just focus on coordinating colors and don’t worry about whether someone is in a dress or jeans.

Questions to ask yourself:

  • What do you want to capture with these pictures? (playfulness, togetherness in a house, glamorous, festive, etc.)
  • What activities do you want captured? (sitting in a house–like, just one big family shot; playing in a field; walking around downtown, etc.)
  • What kind of attire would function best in those situations? (jeans for playing; n/a for sitting in a house, etc.) 

c.  What do we feel confident in?
Whatever clothing you end up choosing, whether it’s your “normal everyday” clothes or a new dress you bought just for the photo shoot, make sure everyone feels confident in it!  That will come across in photos!  

And yayyyy, we had good family photos for our Christmas card this year!  For the last two years we’ve printed our cards from Minted because they have a billion designs that are gorgeous!  
This year we did a front/back one, though I think you can get almost any card front/back or just the front.  I liked being able to write a short little message about our family as well as include a closeup of Addie.  Cuz let’s be real–our friends and family really just want to see pics of her anyway!  (The template/design we used this year is THIS one.) 
We *just* finished sending ours out today, even though they’ve been sitting in our house since before Thanksgiving.  Oh well, still early in the game, IMO!  You can also get cards from Minted that don’t have photos and are just beautiful cards on which you can write a message to friends and family to keep them updated.  That’s better than having to handwrite a message on every card.  If you are feeling behind on your holiday cards, you can order today and still get them by 12/18!  And, even if that doesn’t happen and you still want to send cards, I have definitely sent “happy holiday and happy new year” cards haha!  (And no, I was not paid or asked by Minted to tell you any of this!  🙂  Just trying to relieve some stress or guilt or worry if you wanted to send cards but feel it’s too late cuz I have totally been in that boat before.) 

Hehe!  I love her!  I’m SO glad we captured this season of our lives with a family photo shoot!  Now I’ll have to convince my family and Benson’s family to coordinate outfits.  Totally worth it to have some good photos to remember the years as they fly by.

If you’ve got any tips to add for choosing outfits for family photos, please add them in the comments to help us all out!

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