what to wear

What to wear for family photos

I will be the first to admit that planning coordinating outfits for family photos is not for the faint of heart. But I do know that putting in a little extra effort to make sure you all look great will go a long way in how your final photos turn out, and ensure that you love your photos for many years to come! Here are some of my best tips!

1) Dress Mom First

Choose what Mom will wear first (or if two moms — choose your outfits together first). Moms are most critical of how they look and what they wear, so I recommend carefully selecting an outfit that you feel comfortable in and that you can coordinate everyone else’s outfits around. I assure you I do this with my own family’s photos! Mama knows what Mama likes! ;)


2) Coordinate but (please) don’t match!

The days of everyone in crisp white shirts/black tees and khakis/jeans are mostly gone (thankful to see that trend go bye-bye!). My best advice is to choose a 2-3 color scheme that will help everyone find something that they already own to work within the color scheme. I even coordinated my husband’s extended family (50+ people) in this exact way and it worked like a charm! Everyone was instructed to wear anything in a green/blue/grey color scheme, with whatever neutral bottoms they chose. Easy peasy!


3) Accessorize & layer.

This is especially good for fall photos because the cooler temps allow us to add things like jackets, scarves, sweater layers, cardigans, etc. and still look authentic. Everyone wearing too much navy? Add a pop of an accent color with your scarf. Daughter’s shirt is too plain? Add in a coordinating vest. Texture can add an extra layer of dimension too — sweaters, denim, fringe, lace, ruffles, leather, etc in small doses are great ways to add a bit of texture to a plain outfit. Jewelry and cute shoes can also add points of interest to your photos. It’s all in the details!

4) Don’t forget about the shoes!

I’m guilty of forgetting about the shoes on occasion, but luckily we can usually find something classy and netural enough to still look nice and work with the color scheme. The fall season also allows for boots and chunkier shoes, or canvas shoes like Toms or Converse can work too. Avoid athletic shoes and anything with non-coordinating neon colors that will stick out like a sore thumb.

5) Lay it all out.

I find it helpful to lay everything out (including the shoes!) on a bed while I’m planning out the outfits. That way I can see it all together and if it looks something is too matchy-matchy or missing, I can grab something to fix it before it’s time to do the session.

There you have it! Plan ahead and go through these steps, and I promise you will love your photos more than if you threw something together or didn’t go in with a game plan. As always, you can shoot me a message if you’re having trouble deciding on your outfits or aren’t sure if outfits go together. I’m here to help and want your session to be a success also!

What to wear for your engagement photos

This is a common question when the topic of engagement photos comes up. I don’t like to tell people what to wear really, but I am glad to offer suggestions of what works well for photos and what may not work so well. You can also refer to my post about tips for looking your best which talks more about your nails, your ring, pets, locations, and what products you want to walk away with from your session.

what to wear for your engagement photos
ice cream engagement session

Dressier or more casual?

Some of my clients lean toward dressier photos (dress pants and shirt, dresses), but I would say the majority of my clients opt to go the more casual route. Jeans always photograph well in my opinion, and as far as colors go, I usually tell people to avoid bright white (it doesn’t expose as well as colors or even off-white/cream), and oranges and reds which tend to reflect back onto your skin. Some patterns and stripes are ok, but just pay attention to how it looks both up close and far away.

The key is to COORDINATE but not MATCH.

Jayme rented this red lace dress from RentTheRunway.com for her engagement session. You can see how the red reflects a bit back on her chin, but the lace texture helps to mellow out the red intensity a bit.

Jayme rented this red lace dress from RentTheRunway.com for her engagement session. You can see how the red reflects a bit back on her chin, but the lace texture helps to mellow out the red intensity a bit.

Comfort is key

Above all, I tell people to make sure they’re comfortable in what they’re wearing. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t look comfortable — If you’re constantly adjusting the fabric or hiding bra straps, or tugging your skirt, you may not be fully comfortable. If you’re comfortable in a skirt, go for it! If jeans are your jam, wear them!

A good friend of mine likes to say “if you look good, you fell good.” So make sure you look good and the rest will fall into place!

Denim always photographs well

Let your location guide you

Most of my engagement session clients opt to do 2 different outfits as well (which corresponds with generally 2 locations). If you’ve chosen an urban location like downtown Champaign, and then a more natural location like a park, two outfits maybe be perfect for you! And this gives you a chance to both dress up and dress down for your session and show your style with 2 different looks.

Above all, make sure your session reflects you. Choose outfits that represent you well, along with locations that are meaningful, and a photographer whose shooting and editing style compliments you.