This is one of the most common questions I get asked as a photographer.  I decided to put together a list of tips that will help ensure you and your family look and feel your best in your photos.  This list is geared towards family photos, but the advice can be applied to other types of sessions (for example, an engagement or couples shoot).


Choose outfits that “go together” but try not to match exactly.  My best advice is to keep most of the clothes and shoes neutral, and add a pop or two of colours from the same family here and there to add some visual interest.  For example, neutrals such as denim, navy, and grey with a pop of aqua or coral look great, as you can see in the following photo:


Another example could be a neutral such as brown or cream with a pop of red or orange:


Gone are the days of everyone wearing the exact same outfit (for example, everyone in white shirts and khaki’s, or everyone in black).  Another important thing to mention is that you don’t have to exactly match the colours you choose together either.  For example, say you choose purple as an accent colour; not every purple item needs to be the exact same shade.  In fact, using variations of the same colour helps add visual interest; mix it up with different purples, such as lavender, mauve, a royal purple, or even something closer to magenta.  The photo below is a great example of this:


Style of Clothing:

Try to pick something that shows your personal style but is appropriate for the setting.  For example, more formal wear such as stilettos and a cocktail dress would look great for a shoot downtown on city streets, but may not be the best fit for a country family session setting.  Try not to go too overboard with how trendy your clothing is; classic styles will continue to look great for years to come in photos.  That being said, don’t be afraid to add a little bit of trendiness to your choices to make them interesting and current.  The following photo is a great mix of classic looks with a trend (coloured denim) thrown in for interest:


Logos & Patterns:

Try to avoid huge logos on t-shirts & jackets; it takes away from the timeless look that keeps your photos looking great.  Patterns are an excellent way to add visual interest, but make sure not everyone is wearing a pattern.  Try to keep it to one or two people, otherwise the overall photo starts to look very busy and distracting.  It’s like when my husband thinks that a plaid shirt goes with plaid shorts; it’s just all kinds of wrong!


This is a great way to add interest and variety to your photos.  You can add pops of colour with a long tank top or shirt underneath a sweater or button-up shirt.  Bring a great jacket or cardigan and you instantly have two different looks with one easy switch.  The following photo has some great layering going on in the little boy’s outfit:



These are a great way to add your own personal style to your outfit and you photos.  Accessories are also a great way to add that pop of colour I’ve been describing.  For example, a scarf with an interesting pattern, a great necklace, a pair of shoes with a fun colour, or a cute hat can take an outfit from average to amazing very easily.  For example, the turquoise necklace in the mom’s outfit in the following photo really pulls the entire look together:corinanielsen-whattowear-fall3


Try to have everyone wear clean, well-maintained shoes/boots.  Nothing ruins the look of a photo more than terrible shoes!  This doesn’t mean you have to wear dress shoes and heels; just try to avoid any tattered footwear and the dreaded “dad sneaker” — you all know what I’m talking about, right??  Just in case, here’s a classic dad sneaker:



Take into consideration what time of year you will be taking your photos.  Spring and summer have a lot of green and blue background colours, so bright and playful clothing and colour choices look great (think pink, aqua, and pastels).  Here;s a great spring/summer look:



Fall will have browns, reds, and oranges, which look great with slightly more muted colours, such as coral, navy, cream, and jewel tones like the beautiful purple in the following photo:


A winter setting with snow looks amazing with blue and/or red.  The following photo would look fantastic for a winter family session:



Above all, choose clothing that you feel great in.  If you are uncomfortable or feel awkward in an outfit, you will likely look uncomfortable and awkward in the photos.  Pick something that you love and that makes you feel fabulous!  And just ’cause I love ya, here’s a few more examples of outfits for you to draw some inspiration from:


I hope these tips helped you in your search for the perfect outfits for your family photos.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have about clothing; I am happy to help!