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What to Wear for Family Photo Sessions – Raleigh Family Photographer

We chat about your session & the moments you want to capture, we get all excited to work together and book your photo session, and then the next thought that comes to your mind is,

“Now I have to figure out what the heck we are all gonna wear ”

That’s a quote from a recent client, and the “what to wear” question is so real! I get this question all the time. You want to look and feel your best in your photos, especially since you & your family will be enjoying them for years & years to come. No pressure right?!

As a professional photographer who guides many families through choosing the perfect outfits for their photo session, I’m here to help you!

What to Wear for Family Photo Sessions
Raleigh Family Photographer


Like I said, one of the first questions that comes to mind after you book a photo session is often, “What am I going to wear?!” For moms, this usually goes beyond themselves, and they plan out (or at least have some say in) what each member of the family will wear. I’m here to help you make sure you look fabulous in your photos!

If you’re looking at this post, it probably means that you’re the most invested in making sure you & your family coordinate and look great! Are you the mama by chance? Maybe the dad, or a fashion-forward teen? I’ll start with listing suggestions for you, then move on to your family members! I suggest you think about it the same way – start with the person who might be the most picky, and then go from there. 🙂

Here are some tips for what to wear in your family photo session:

For you –

  • Wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks

    • The reason you’re concerned with what to wear is because this outfit will be in photos forever! And I mean it when I say that you and your family will enjoy for years and years to come – since our focus is on creating artwork like wall art and albums with your photos, they aren’t going to get lost forever even if the digital files eventually get hidden in an obscure folder on the computer. You’ll enjoy seeing your kiddos’ smiles and giggles around your home – always bringing joy when you happen to glance upon the photos.

    • First, recognize that stressing over what to wear is completely normal & rational! The cool thing is that your outfit actually has the power to calm any nerves you may have about getting photos taken! Wear something that makes you feel like a million bucks. We all have insecurities, but when you wear something that YOU think you look great in, you’ll feel more confident about being in front of the camera. (As for what to do with your hands and feeling awkward even in the most incredible outfit, I’ve got you covered once we’re there with encouraging words and helpful directions for any posed photos!)

  • Wear something you feel comfortable in

    • Ideally, your “I feel pretty, oh so pretty” outfit will also let you move! You’ll be interacting with your family throughout the session, playing and having a good time together. If you have little ones, you’ll likely be on the floor/ground with them or chasing them down!

    • Also be aware of how your clothes move as you move. Before your session, put your outfit on and reach up high, bend forward, squat down, and pay attention… Is anything revealed that you don’t want in photos? (I’ll also look out for that and minimize any “compromising” poses.)

For your family –

  • Let’s try to coordinate colors without wearing the exact same colors/outfits!

  • People usually do this well by having one person wear a patterned shirt, shorts, dress, etc. and then having the others wear solid colors from that pattern.

  • Alternatively, you can just choose some solid colors that go well together!

  • It’s also a good idea to not have anyone in solid green if we’re outside at a park – we don’t want you to blend into the trees too much. 🙂 That being said, however, it’s not the end of the world if your favorite outfit is green… I have an olive green dress that I love that I’d probably still wear in a photo session, haha! It can still work.

  • Nothing is strictly off-limits – give your outfits your own flair, and feel free to accessorize to spice up your outfits even more, in a way that represents each person’s personality.

In general –

  • Think about the overall style you want your family to have in the photos – something a little done-up and classy like a sundress / khakis + polo, or more casual like jeans/shorts and a top?

  • What season is it? Some people opt for pastels in spring, brighter colors in summer, and more muted, warm colors in fall & winter. And – you can never go wrong with neutral tones. Thinking practically, also consider how hot/cold it will be when you choose your outfits! I want you to be comfortable in all ways!

  • What’s your background? Think about the area you’ll have your session in (or ask me about it, if you’ve never been there before). What colors are around? What colors can you wear that allow you to “pop” instead of blending in with the background? Alison & Aaron did a great job planning dark neutrals in their outfits so there wouldn’t be TOO much color with the colorful mural in the background of their downtown Raleigh photo session.

There’s a lot to consider when planning the perfect outfits for your photo session, but once you fit the puzzle pieces together, it’s all worth it!

Here are some outfit examples to give you inspiration.

Click “see more photos” to view the families’ full blog posts!


Heaven & Russell

Casual, based around a pattern in Phoebe’s shirt


Lauren & Steve

A little fancier, based around a pattern in Lauren’s dress


Lake & Jacob

Coordinating solid colors (grey, salmon pink, teal)


Sarah & Colin

Coordinating solid colors (blues & greys)

If you have any questions or want specific advice once you start putting outfits together, I’m happy to help!

And remember – wearing your smile is actually the most important thing While I know the outfits are top of mind before your session, the love & joy that’s evident between all of you will outshine what you’re wearing. (I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true!)

Haven’t scheduled your session yet? Get in touch with me so we can document these sweet family moments before they’re gone!

“Kelly has photographed my husband and I for our engagement and wedding, our first maternity session and our newborn son. It is easy for me to say that she is the best at what she does, and is the most caring, intelligent, thoughtful and easy going person I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She would make even the most nervous person comfortable in front of the camera, and make them look beautiful behind it. She has an eye for capturing a moment in its most precious state and knows how to make a memory last forever by adding the perfect touch! She will forever be our family photographer!”

– Jessica

Thanks for joining me here today, friends, and talk to you soon!

in light & love,