What to Wear Guide | Yorkshire Family Photography On Location and At Home
What To Wear Guide for family Photography. Clients often ask me for tips on what to wear for their photo session. It can be a bit daunting at first, especially if there are a few of you to get ready, but hopefully this guide will give you a few tips to get started. And who knows, you might even enjoy it! I know for a lot of families having professional photographs of you all together might only happen once a year, if that! So I think it’s important to make the most of this time, and the right outfits can really make a difference.
So if you have booked (or are thinking of booking!) a family shoot, newborn shoot, maternity shoot or baby shoot with me (or with another photographer for that matter!) grab a cuppa and keep scrolling! I’ve included things to look for and things to avoid, used some of my past family shoots as examples, and listed a few of my favourite shops at the end (in store and online!). Also I should note that this post is not sponsored in any way!
Let’s start with a few guidelines…
1. Coordinate, don’t match (unless you want to!)
Long gone are the days of matching white shirts or head-to-toe black for all family members! It’s already clear that you’re a “unit”; you’re being photographed together! So wearing the exact same outfit can look a bit awkward and stiff. But I do always recommend picking one or two main colours and picking an outfit for each person that has one or both of these in. It gives the set of images a bit more cohesion, and looks great if you’re putting a few prints on the wall together (which I hope you will!). Having said that, dressing siblings alike can be pretty cute, even if it’s just sisters in the same skirt. Just thought I’d throw that out there to be awkward and contradict myself!
2. Colours – no fluorescents!
This is an easy one. Steer clear of fluorescents. These will really stand out in the photos, and not in a good way! Also on a bright or sunny day these can cast colours onto faces, necks and hair.
3. Think about the location
And by that I mean everyone in pretty much all-over green, as you’ll blend in too much with the scenery! A pop of it here and there is no problem – I think it’s nice to coordinate with the environment as much as with each other!
Having said that another option is to purposefully stand out from the background. So warmer colours will stand out against the greens of the woods and fields in the summer, and cooler colours can look great against the autumn leaves. For urban shoots pretty much anything goes!
Another option is to go with neutrals – light greys, creams and white are timeless and they’ll work with any background.
4. Layers & textures
Layers can add a bit of depth and extra interest to an outfit – a belt or necklace with a dress, or cardigans, scarves, hats, and jackets in the colder months. I’m also a big fan of texture in photos; things like lace, tweed, embroidery details, chunky knits, ruffles and so on look beautiful, especially in black and white photographs.
I should also mention hair accessories here – little clips or headbands can look really cute on girls (and if your daughter is like mine and refuses to get her hair cut they can be essential items for avoiding that Adams Family look!), but I would avoid anything too big as this will probably steal focus from what we really want to see – her expressions! Plus she’ll no doubt spend half her time trying to pull it out anyway!
Patterns can be lovely, but try to avoid having everyone in a completely different pattern as this can look really confusing in photos. Once or two patterned outfits with other people in plainer ones in coordinating colours can look great. And definitely avoid logos and cartoon characters and the eye will be drawn to these straight away rather than to people’s faces and expressions
6. Dress for the weather & the environment
Anyone who lives in Yorkshire, and the UK in general, knows that seasons don’t really mean anything anymore! It can be hot and sunny one day and cold and wet the next. It can snow in April and be 24 degrees in October! So when choosing outfits for an outdoor shoot again I’d say go for layers, and be ready for anything! If you’ve gone with a dress for your little girl (or even yourself, mum’s!), have a nice cardigan or jacket, plus tights and boots/wellies ready for cold and damp weather, but also sandals and suncream for those freak sunny days we have every now and again! For boys, a lightweight shirt and trousers (and maybe a pair of back up shorts!) in warmer weather, then you can add a woolly jumper and again boots or wellies if there’s a chill.
A sweaty child or a chilly child is a grumpy child in my experience – both as a photographer and a mother!
Also think about the terrain, a pair of heels and smart dress might work well for a city centre family shoot, but probably not in a field or woodland setting!
Shoes are such an important part of the outfit you choose. If your shoot is taking place in a field or in the woods then obviously you want to be comfortable and you want your kiddos to be able to run around (if they’re at that age yet!). But I have seen so many great outfits ruined by a bad shoe choice! For example, it rains heavily the day before so the wellies come out, but they’re bright pink with Peppa Pig all over them! Stay away from cartoon characters, fluorescent colours, flip flops, Crocs, trainers. Instead go for Converse (or similar!), leather boots or sandals, plain wellies (or silver glitter ones, if your daughter loves sparkle like mine does!), or mary janes.
Comfort is key! If you don’t feel comfortable in what you’re wearing it will really show in the photographs. So nothing too itchy or restricting, or that you have to keep pulling back down into place. Family sessions, especially with little ones who can walk and run, tend to be quite fast paced with lots of movement and you need to be able to chase your kids, throw them around and tickle them without worrying about flashing parts of your body that you don’t want photographed!
9. At home sessions
I do all of my newborn shoots, lots of baby shoots, and even some maternity and family shoots at clients’ homes. Which means that I never know what to expect in terms of décor! So I always recommend going for plain, simple outfits in pale or neutral tones. That way you won’t clash with any wallpaper or soft furnishings! This is especially true for newborn shoots where you want all the focus to be on the tiny new human! I know a lot of people prefer black as they find it more comfortable, particularly after having a baby. Which I totally understand! The only potential problems with that are firstly that it tends to darken the overall look of the photos, and also you can see every speck of dust and lint on a black top!
For babies of all ages I also try to get some naked (or nearly naked!) shots when the shoot is at home. I love to see all those squishy folds!
OK, now what?!
1. Start with one outfit and build from there.
I know when I’m planning on having some photos taken with my little girl that I usually choose her outfit first and coordinate mine with it! But mum’s you might have a favourite outfit in mind for yourself that you feel good in, so by all means start with yourself and go from there! Or it could be that one of your little ones is particularly picky (aren’t they all?!), or that dad only has a couple of nice shirts, so it’s easier to start there and coordinate everyone else with that!
2. Dress little ones in clothes that fit perfectly now, not ones with “room to grow!”
I do it myself, I almost always buy my daughter clothes one size bigger because I know she’ll get away with it this year and they’ll last well into next year. But baggy or too tight clothing looks really obvious in photographs, and can look a bit sloppy. So always choose clothes that fit them just right, even if they’ll only wear them for a few months. An exception to this can be jackets or cardigans, you can often go a size smaller in these!
3. If in doubt, timeless classics never go out of style
I always love simple and timeless. Items like smock dresses, plain shirts, chinos (with braces – I LOVE boys in braces!), plain (or frilly!) nappy covers for babies (depending on the weather!), always look great and I don’t think they’ll ever go out of style!
4. Let their personality shine through!
If your daughter is a tom boy, then go with it! Don’t put her in a pale pink dress that she hates. If your little man has a tantrum when he even sees a hat, then leave the hat in the car! Obviously you want them to look super cute and probably slightly neater than usual in the photos, but you also want them to look like, them. I’m a big believer in natural, fun family photos that really show off how you guys were together at that time. And never say “no” to bringing along a favourite toy – they’ll hate me before we even start! I mean, don’t encourage it, especially if it’s a dummy! But if they ask then by all means let them bring it, it might be that once we get started we can pop it in a bag out of the way and your little one won’t notice!
Tips for mums:
1. Dress for your shape
Maxi dresses are a great option if it’s warm, as they flatter most body types, and you can add layers if it’s chilly. Skinny jeans are another good one if you want something more casual; they look good on most body types, but you could try “skinny boot cut” jeans that are a bit looser.
2. Flaunt your best assets!
We all have parts of our bodies that we want to cover up. I’m not a fan of my legs so I never wear anything above the knee! And since having my little girl I always go for looser tops to camouflage the squidgy bit in the middle! Cardigans are great for layering and covering arms, and skirts/shorter dresses/super skinny jeans are good if you want to show off your legs.
My favourite places to shop
Next – for everyone! Probably my go-to place actually. I buy most of my daughter’s clothes from here
Sainsburys – I love the Tu range for children and babies. And I love a bargain!
Asda – again, full of bargains! OK so some of it’s a bit dodgy – bright colours, too many patterns and lots of Disney! But the photo further up of the little girl walking away through the bluebells, that’s my little girl, and that dress is a £12 one from Asda!
H&M – for women, men and kids! They also do a great maternity range. I buy so many of my clothes from here…
Mothercare – for children, babies and maternity.
Dorothy Perkins – for mums!
New Look – for mums!
Gap – for everyone!
Monsoon – a bit more of a splurge but oh so cute for kiddos!
- Pick one or two main colours and coordinate outfits so everyone wears a bit of one or both! You don’t need to match, just be cohesive!
- Say no to brights, flourescents, too many different patterns, logos, cartoon characters, and big hair accessories!
- Say yes to textures and layers! You can either coordinate with the colours of the environment or choose to stand out (warm colours against greens and blues in the summer; cool colours against oranges and reds in the autumn!). Or if in doubt, neutrals work well anywhere!
- Shoes are as important as the rest of the outfit – many a great photo has been ruined by dodgy footwear! Again avoid bright colours, logos and cartoon characters.
- Comfort and personality are the most important factors – if you hate what you’re wearing it will show. So be comfy, and be YOU!
I really hope that has helped! Please do feel free to leave comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts!