What to Wear: The Ultimate Guide to Coordinating Outfits For Your Family Photography

Solving the Family Photo Wardrobe Dilemma

I understand that one of the biggest concerns for families before a photo session is what to wear.

Here are some general “rules of thumb” when it comes to styling your family for a session.

Once you read through these, you may have a better understanding of what you prefer, and you can start planning your outfits. These tips are based on my experience and are not concrete rules that can’t be broken. Let's work together to make sure your family looks and feels their best, while capturing those priceless moments in a stunning and timeless way.

This is our process:

Family Mini Session at Crystal Mountain


What do you plan to do with your family photos? If you're hoping to display them in your home, for example, you might want to choose outfits that complement your decor. If you're planning to send out holiday cards, you might want to choose something festive or playful.


While you want your family's outfits to look cohesive, you don't want everyone to be wearing exactly the same thing. Instead, choose a color palette or theme that everyone can work within. For example, you might choose a range of blues and greens, with different shades and patterns for each family member.


Flattering and comfortable. This is especially important for kids, who may be more likely to get cranky or restless if they're wearing something that doesn't fit well or feels scratchy. If you're planning to wear heels or dress shoes, make sure you bring along a comfortable pair of flats or sandals to wear between shots.

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Things to avoid

1. Colors to avoid: bright reds, neons, bright oranges (they reflect color onto skin).

2. Avoid patterns smaller than a quarter: Tiny patterns cause something called “Chromatic Aberration” in digital images. This is sometimes fixable in editing but can be impossible.

3. Heaviness: Mix up your darks and lights. If one of you is wearing very dark jeans, the other may want to wear lighter pants. If one of you is wearing a navy top, the other shouldn’t wear a dark/heavy-colored top. To a certain degree, alternating the “heaviness” of your outfits can make your images look more balanced. The caveat to this is an intentionally monochromatic look.

4. Be Cohesive: Avoid one of you being dressed up while the others are more casual. This can look a bit awkward in your photos. Choose a casual or dressy look for everyone based on your style and location.

5. Other things to avoid: Full pockets, Graphic tees, Bold logos on shirts & Baseball Hats.

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The Recipe

- Khakis vs. Jeans: If you really want your images to be as bright as possible, consider having your family wear lighter pants instead of dark pants or jeans.

- Long, Flowy Skirts/Dresses: Dresses and skirts with light textures, feminine ruffles, multiple layers of fabric and the ability to flow and move in the breeze will always photograph beautifully!

- Neutral Colors: Blushes, tans, light pinks, faint blues and light minty teals, creams, grays and whites will always result in more of a light and airy look in your images. These colors create a soft and romantic feel to your images.

- For feminine: flowy fabrics are always a win on the beach. A cute top paired with neutral bottoms or a dress is a great option that will look both stylish and comfortable. The most common color combinations are blue and white, black and white, and all neutrals/earthy tones.

- For Masculine: a nice neutral pair of shorts paired with a button-down or collared shirt is always a good option. This look is both casual and put-together, making it perfect for a beach or outdoor shoot. When it comes to color combinations, blue and white, black and white, and all neutrals/earthy tones are all popular choices. However, for a bit of added interest, consider combining shades of blue, white, and tan/khaki.

Family photos in Northern Michigan

When it comes to choosing outfits for your photography session,

comfort is key.

It's important to avoid color clashing and to follow the golden rule of making sure everyone feels comfortable in their outfit. After all, everyone looks their best when they're feeling happy and comfortable.

To ensure your comfort, avoid itchy fabrics or clothes that don't fit well. During the session, some movement can help keep everyone engaged and interested. Simple games like red light, green light or racing are often incorporated for a fun and playful approach to creating candid moments. You'll want to keep that in mind when choosing a fit that will not be too restrictive. Most families prefer going barefoot on Northern Michigan's beaches, which are ideal for that.

At the end of the session, if everyone is up for it, playing in the water can make for some amazing candid shots. With the picturesque Sleeping Bear Dunes lakeshore as a backdrop, Northern Michigan is a perfect destination for all kinds of photography sessions.

I can't wait to capture the next chapter of your family's story here in Michigan!