What to wear for a family session?

Firstly a few things to consider that may influence the style and colour of clothing you may select.

- Take inspiration from your home styling.

Do you have a coastal vibe? Are you into more monotone styling? Or are you bright and out there? Formal or laid back? When you put your new session up on your wall, you want it to compliment your interior decor and represent the place you as a family call home.

- Where are you having your family session taken?

Beach, city, hinterland, forest or even at home. Different styles of clothing may suit a particular location. For instance beach sessions often have a relaxed playful feel but if you were having your session in the city or botanic gardens you generally wouldn't be getting around barefoot.

Below are two similar looks however bare feet and shorts pull off the coastal vibe for the first, then jeans with shoes work great for the second urban session. It is also a good contrast for the white and bright feel at the beach or the moody urban session in a city location.

- What season will your family session be captured in?

Although we don't have quite as dramatic changes in seasons here in Queensland there is still a big difference in summer and winter climates. Especially in places like the hinterland where in winter we can be in the single digits and the same for a beach session with that crisp cool sea breeze. Think cute summer dresses or nice warm cosy sweaters and boots.

A few handy tips

- Draw inspiration from one persons outfit.

If Mum has the perfect dress she's keen to show off, use that as your piece to draw colour inspiration, then style everyone else from there. This is often one of the easiest ways to start planning your session.

- Avoid those 90's style family sessions where everyone is matching in the exact same thing.

I'm sure everyone in your family has their own individual personality and that's what we want to capture.

If you want to do denim and white it still looks great but you can try adding in accessories to certain peoples outfits or a few soft colours that compliment denim. Cute hats, beanies, scarves and jewellery are all great options or maybe a soft understated pattern on a white dress or t shirt.

- Stay away from bold patterns, printed logos and character prints.

They can be very attention drawing, making the individual wearing them stand out or just draw your focus to the cartoon character on their clothing rather then your child's cute little face. Remember we are generally trying to create a cohesive overall feel for your family session.

Also try not to have everyone in something with a pattern. There's a difference between one person wearing a soft understated pattern, to everyone in clashing patterns and it becoming a bit chaotic.

Larger family sessions can be tricky when planning your styling but this family pulled together soft patterns and accessories for the girls with subtle complimentary colours for the boys for a more then perfect balance.

- Rules are made to be broken.

If you have your heart set on something talk with your photographer in the lead up. They may be able to give you some guidance to pull off your vision or suggest to bring two outfit options on the day for various options.

Side note...

Timing your session the hour before sunset for that added gorgeous golden glow will give you that extra special touch on a sunny day. I personally always recommend this to my clients. It's not always an option but the natural light at this time of the day is beautiful. Same goes for sunrise for those early risers.

Pastels - Pinks, blues, yellows, white

Any mix of colours in pastel always creates a beautiful overall look. The bonus is you can mix quite a few variations of pastel, pop in some white and you will have a light, fun family session just like these guys rocking that beachy coastal vibe.

The classic look

Pairing Denim with whites. I love this session with a more modern touch incorporating a few items of black, greys, patterns and even cute hair accessories which adds personality and individuality to the over look for this fun coastal extended family session.

Greens, pinks and white

Green and pink work so well together. Think of nature. Flowers and leaves, blossoming trees.

With a little baby girl white and pastel pinks are always a soft elegant choice. This beautiful Mum's dress compliments the white and pinks of their baby daughter, plus adding in shades of greens which now ties the boys in perfectly.


Navy is always a great option. It pairs well with browns, maroons, earthy tones and of course white. It also looks fab on both males and females. This Mum and Dad paired their navy outfits together then chose a sparkly white and gold dress for their daughter which makes her the sweetest little feature in their session.

White and blue

This is a very popular selection. Whether it's soft pastel, cute little stripes with white or just a shades of blue paired with white, it always has a relaxing cohesive feel.

Yes the session below is similar to the above look however these outfits were chosen around Mums cute dress. Newborn babies photograph beautifully in neutral tones and Mums dress complimented this wonderfully. The families stunning home has calming hues of blue and grey so Dads shirt selection and tan shorts were the perfect look to tie it all together.

Black and dark colours

Black or dark colours can be quite a bold choice. Mainly because it can be very drawing to the eye, especially if only one person is in dark and the rest are in lighter colours or vice versa. You want to steer clear of doing this.

It does look really lovely in those cooler months in settings like the city or against a backdrop of autumn trees if your lucky enough to have deciduous trees at your location.

This particular family nailed the darker look. By having Dad in a patterned shirt it softens their look. Their gorgeous little boys are the features in blues, then super hero classic primary colours which gives a really fun feel but also lightens those dark tones.

They also perfected the 'no character rule' by having their session in quite a neutral space plus it adds the 'little boy mischief and fun' to the photo's. Every kid wants to be a super hero!

My last tip would be to look into the future and visualise what you want to look back on. If it means putting a little more effort into everyone's appearance because you think 'gosh I may never look this good again' then go for it or if you want a more relaxed vibe to remember your kids just being kids that's more then perfect too.

Remember the moments being captured are not just a fun afternoon with the family. They are a small piece of your lives you will have forever.

If it's time to photograph your family before the little ones (or not so little) have grown another inch or three, take the time out of your busy lives to schedule in your portrait session before another year has passed by.

Take care, Candi x

© 2020 Candi de Smeth

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