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6 Key Tips for Selecting What to Wear for Your Philadelphia Family Photo Session

Updated: May 18

So you've booked your photo session and are now scrambling to coordinate outfits for everyone. You feel overwhelmed when figuring out what to wear for your session and don't know where to start. Does this sound familiar? Don't worry - dressing for your photo session is easier than ever. While it used to be common for everyone to match, it is now more common to pick coordinating outfits, making it simpler than you might imagine. You might even find that you already have most of what you need in your closet!

While I've included some tips below to help you get started, the best advice is it keep it simple and true to you! The perfect outfits are ones you feel comfortable in and are excited to wear - especially for kids. So if you're looking for the excuse to ditch button down shirts and tight formal clothes, I'm all for it!

Coordinating vs Matching

Gone are the days where matching outfits were the standard. Now families are encouraged to choose clothing that coordinates well together to create a more dynamic and interesting composition. Not only does this make finding clothes in everyone's sizes MUCH simpler, it allows everyone to reflect their unique personality to the session. While you can still match some of your outfits, I recommend choosing similar colors & hues to find pieces that compliment each other rather than clash. And make sure your clothes all have a similar vibe (i.e. don't wear a ballgown if everyone else is super casual).

Include Texture in What You Wear

Another helpful way to add interest and depth to your images is to add clothing pieces that have texture. Feel free to mix it up and include different textures. There are so many fabric options to choose from—denim, chambray, corduroy, Swiss dot. And don't overthink it. Just choose different materials to add dimension. You know what also adds texture - accessories! For those opting to dress all in the same color family, this can be a great way to keep your images exciting and from feeling too flat.

Choose Flattering Colors

There is a renewed interest recently in color theory and finding your "season". While it is not necessary to delve into determining your color season for your session, it is helpful to have an idea what colors flatter and compliment your complexion. I find that muted colors, soft earth tones, and neutrals are generally look good on everyone regardless of skin tone. I also recommend avoiding some colors. Bright colors, including bright red and neons can be challenging to photograph and often distort skin tones. Likewise, I generally advise against wearing black and bright white.

Have Fun with Pattern

Your session should be fun and playful, so why not have fun with your clothes? Patterns are pretty in every season. Florals can really compliment the outdoors and add another layer to your cropped in images. I personally can never resist a stripe. Just keep in mind some of the other tips when choosing your patterns and colors, as you want to make sure they don't clash with the location and aren't too dramatic. You want to make sure your family is still the main focus. Smaller patterns tend to do better than larger ones. And avoid anything too trendy as these can date your photos.

Consider Your Location

Matching your clothing's aesthetic and vibe to your location is important. Not only does it have the ability to accentuate your images, in some cases it can create a disconnect or clash with the environment. For example, wearing a very formal suit in a field, may not look as natural as wearing a more casual top. Think about how we might interact with the location to make sure the clothes lend themselves to that and are comfortable. What might allow your children to run and play, or for wade in water (assuming these are all ways you want to engage with your surroundings)? Some women choose to wear heels. While this is not something I would usually recommend for most locations for practicality and comfort, if it is really important to you, choose wedges. What you choose for a urban setting may differ for what you would choose for a meadow. If you are going to be photographed in a setting with flowers, think about colors that will compliment them and not overpower your setting.

Dress for the Season

Ok this one might be obvious and definitely links in to my tip above for thinking about your location. The colors of the clothes you choose can perfectly compliment the time of year, what is blooming, and create a sense of time in your photos. I usually recommend lighter and muted colors during the spring to match the light colors of the new leaves and spring flowers. During autumn, richer colors really compliment the changing foliage. You also want to dress comfortably for the weather. There is never anything more uncomfortable than wearing a wool sweater in August for your holiday photos. Embrace when you are getting your photos taken and they'll look better for it. Remember layers are always your friend during the transitional months.

Final thoughts: These tips are about making this experience more fun and the process easier. Feel free to use what you like and leave what you don't behind.

Collage of photos of families with outfit ideas for photo sessions


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