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What to wear to my family photo shoot? by Aberdeen Family Photographer

Ahhhhh, the billion pound question (that really doesn’t have to be that stressful):

What do you wear to your family photo shoot?

And some bonus questions that often tag along with it:

- how do I get my children and partner to wear what I want them to?

- how do I avoid that Peppa Pig t shirt and Disney costumes?

Whether your session is on a windy Aberdeen beach or leafy Aberdeenshire forest, flowery gardens in Angus or your own home, the thought process behind planning and curating your family outfits follows pretty much the same logic. Let me break it down for you into manageable, bite-size chunks. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask under this post or reach out to me direct and we’ll get to the bottom of it! I am happy to offer a second (or third) pair of eyes on the outfits you’ve selected for your family and always encourage clients to ping me a message, rather than second-guess their choices.

So, if the biggest worry about having your family photo session you have is ‘what should we wear?’, let me give my 5 pence of advice.

First and foremost, when choosing your family clothing for the photo shoot is that everyone feels comfortable and confident.

Unfortunately, sometimes ‘comfortable’ doesn’t quite align with the visionary’s idea of the perfect look, but remember - some battles can only be won by compromise.

For example, does your child want to wear shorts, while you had your mind set on smart chinos?

Will their wearing shorts really ruin the family look to the extent, where it’s worth arguing about it just before you leave the house?

Speaking from experience – absolutely not and that one item of compromise, can be styled in such a way, that you are happy with how everyone looks and everyone is happy in how they feel.

Remember, the goal of this shoot is not to look like a family from VOGUE (yes, they feature family shoots - though, heavily-styled obvs!), but to make beautiful memories and give yourself something to remember and melt over in the years to come.

If your future self happens to admire and high five your today self on the styling choices - that’s a bonus!

Overall, my suggestion is going with the smart casual version of you – smart enough that it looks like you’ve made an effort and casual enough so that you can have a blast! We often shoot in locations that can be a little sandy, a little wet, a little muddy, so be ready to get your bum wet and knees dusty – and be sure to enjoy while at it!

Often when I speak with clients, they will mention outfit ‘rules’ they’ve heard of before – avoid stripes, neons and Peppa Pig, don’t match outfits and more things to which I say – rules are made to be broken! And while, yes, if you google ‘what should I wear for my family photo shoot’ and most guides will deliver the above, my approach is slightly more rebellious.

Your photos = your rules!

If your child lives and breathes Peppa, who am I (or a stranger on google) to tell you and your child to avoid the Pig family at all costs?.. perhaps, in 10-20-40 years’ time, this will be ‘the thing’ you melt at in these photos the most: ‘remember your Peppa phase?’ (eyes roll as does a tear of sentiment down your cheek). If neon pink is your color of the year, Pantone can have a day off, you rock that neon! If you like the family look, where everyone is wearing matching jeans and white ts – just do it!

Graphic patterns, such as fine stripes and checks can be tricky on material and that’s probably the only ‘rule’ that I agree with, because it can actually show up looking a bit ‘funny’ in photos. Everything else is ‘beauty in the eye of beholder’ kind of a thing.

A few years ago, my wardrobe guide encouraged to steer away from cartoon characters and words and then these guys appeared and taught me a lesson – after photographing them, I removed that ‘rule’ from my family shoot wardrobe advice.

Having read all that – do take a critical eye to your final selection of clothing and imagine it in family photos – displayed on your walls and windows around the house. If you’re happy with what you ‘see’, then go for it!

So here are a few pointers from me, based on past experience of what looked amazing in past sessions and what I discovered when getting ready for a family photoshoot of my own!

Plain colors are often easier to combine and style than patterned clothing, as you have way less combinations to worry about. Plain color doesn’t have to feel boring, as you can mix and match textures, which photograph beautifully!

Denim, cable knit, waffle material, fur – all work really well in photos and will create interest and compliment a plainly colored garment.

Pick a ‘hero’ color, which can feature on all or most outfits – whether this is the main color of mom’s dress and subtly weaved into a tartan on the child’s shirt and appears on dad’s scarf, or a color that is them varied in all family members’ clothing in different tones… having that one color can really help tie the entire wardrobe together (it can be as simple as denim blue/navy cardigan/light blue shirt, diluted with ochre and sand colors kind of an idea).

Whether you match or contrast is completely up to you.

I am a HUGE lover of color, so bold and bright goes a long way in my books, but I have had clients rock a beige palette – making me wish I could do the same with just as much flair.

When tying everyone’s outfits together, I usually suggest laying outfits together on a bed and going from there – once you have your base, you can add accessories, remove layers, swap out items.

Hack attack!

My little trick is to always start with mom’s outfit. Usually it’s the most elaborate pattern or bright color and usually mom cares the most about how she looks in photos. From there, you can select jumpers for boys or pinafores for girls that would complement mom’s style beautifully and finally, your partner can select something that would work well from their wardrobe (or Next catalog :)).

I don’t know about you, but my husband is a lot less ‘elaborate’ in his outfit choices, so, when I was styling out family photo shoot, I knew he’d be able to find the perfect jumper to compliment my brightly colored dress.

My next big ‘trick’ (or maybe that’s just me who wouldn’t try an outfit on before the big day) is trying on and inspecting all of the clothes ahead of the day. Make sure your outfit fits well and, if it needs any pins etc., you have those looked out for the day, check that children haven’t grown out of their jeans or not yet grown into their new skirt, or that husband’s jumper doesn't have a massive hole on it (thanks, broken washing machine!).

Check that everything is crease-free and run a lint roller over a couple of times – an abundance of pet’s hair covering a beautiful navy dress can be so frustrating to find at the last minute!

(all of the above may sound obvious, but speaking from personal experience – all these things happen :))

This is what our outfits looked like on the bed:

And this is how we looked at our shoot (photo by Marina D’Ambrosio) Notice how my husband’s jumper has been swapped, because it just didn’t feel right once we were all dressed:

There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing – Alfred Wainwright clearly knew a thing or two about dressing for the weather. Dress for the weather we have, not the weather we want.

Usually, we will go ahead with the shoot, unless it’s pouring rain, as most people would quickly get miserable when wet and many wouldn’t like the look of their damp clothing and hair (if you’re a rain-lover, grab your wellies, umbrella and give me a call!). Whatever is going on with the skies, leave that up to me to manage, all you have to take care of is making sure everyone is warm enough (or light enough for the hot days).

One tip here is layering – so it’s better to wear a cotton top under a jumper with a gilet overlay, than a t shirt with a puffer jacket.

The first option will look better, feel lighter and we don’t run into the risk of faces being covered up with jacket hoods and collars. Having said that, if the choice is no jacket and getting chilly and jacket, go with the warmer version and we will absolutely work it!

If we have a newborn or a very young baby joining us on the shoot, safety and well-being are even more paramount than ever.

We want to ensure your precious little babe is cosy and comfy – they have enough to worry about doing all the growing, to concern themselves with battling the elements.

Again, cotton babygrows, cable-knit onesies, cute blankets and thin, but cosy hats will do well here.

As ever, we will make sure we stop for any comfort breaks and resume when everyone is ready, so don’t ever worry about needing to take a minute to reset.

We’re nearly there, friend!

Make up and blow dries – for whoever feels they need it ;)

My advice when it comes to make up is go with a ‘nice Sunday brunch out’ look. So a little bit extra, but not the full on cabaret glitter eyeshadow look (note: if full on glitter eyeshadow is your everyday look, I’d love to meet ya!). Getting someone else to do your make up can be a wonderful idea, as it takes away the stress of getting ready and gives you a chance to sit down for a while and chill before the session. One big tip here is go either with someone you’ve worked with before, or someone whose work you’re VERY familiar with and trust to deliver the look that feels true to you.

Hair is the next hot thing – if you’re good at styling your own – great, one less thing to worry about! I have had a blow dry before a shoot before and – again – it can be a wonderful way to relieve one of the worries in preparing for a session and take a breather :)

My lovely hairdresser – Siobhan at the Grange Hair Boutique – usually gives me such an amazing pep talk, I walk away looking and feeling like a gold coin!

(Yes, that’s Siobhan’s beautiful family absolutely rocking their shoot!)

Check out my Pinterest boards, where I have selected a few combinations for clothing that would work for any family. This could serve as good inspiration and starting point for when you’re choosing outfits for your own family photo shoot.

I hope this has given you plenty food for thought and you feel inspired and enthused to plan your family photo session outfits for an upcoming session?

If you have any questions or tips of your own, just reach out. If you have your outfits all set with nowhere to go, I’d be delighted to give you a reason to show them off in shiny new family photographs.

Hey, I’m Iana – family photographer based just south of Aberdeen in the rolling hills of (occasionally) sunny Aberdeenshire.

My photography style is soulful, joyful, honest.

My goal is not to make you look perfect, but show genuine emotion and love you and your family share for one another.

The images from your family shoot will make you laugh and cry, then laugh again and will grow even more precious as time goes by.

If you are ready to book your family photoshoot for this year, reach out now and let’s start planning!

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