Stressing about what to wear for your family photography session? Picking the right clothing is definitely a key factor in looking amazing in photos, but don’t let it stress you out! Let the tips below help you plan the perfect outfits!

So, the most important factor in planning what to wear for sessions that include more than one person is to coordinate and complement each other so that you look “put together.”

(1) Match formality: Casual attire is great, and so is formal attire. It just depends on the look that you’re going for. What you need to make sure you do is to match formality. So if one person is wearing jeans, then no one should be wearing dress pants! In addition, to give you the most flexibility, I recommend that you choose clothing that is “nice enough” that you would want to hang the portraits on the walls of your home. (That means discouraging t-shirts and shorts for adults.)

(2) Choose complementary colors: There’s no need for everyone to wear the same shade of the same color, as that would be too “match-matchy.” What you do want to do is wear complementary colors – colors that look good side by side - as opposed to conflicting colors. One way to make sure everyone looks coordinated is to have one or more people (depending on group size) wear a multi-color pattern, and then have other people pick a solid color from the pattern to wear.

Other color selection tips:

  • Pinterest is a treasure trove. Look at our “what to wear” color & clothing pinterest board and save color combos that you like. We also have a fall-specific what to wear pinterest board emphasizing fall colors.
  • Lay a clothing possibility for each person next to each other on a bed and see how they look together. Take a picture and send it to me at irene@ireneabdou.com for feedback!
  • Might you want to hang one or more wall portraits in your home? If so, choose clothing colors that complement the colors in the room(s) you would hang the portrait(s) in.
  • Wear colors that you like. Any color goes if you like how you look in it! However, you should only wear a white or cream top if it has lace, ruffles, or some other type of detail/texture, so that your top doesn’t end up looking like a big white blob.

When choosing your individual outfit, keep the following points in mind:

(3) Clothing that is too tight shows unwanted bulges. Clothing that is too loose may make you look heavier than you are. Skirts that are too short make it more difficult to photograph you sitting. (Of course, for maternity sessions, I encourage you to wear a form-fitting top that shows off your belly!)

(4) Dark colors are slimming; white & cream are “plumping.” Is there a certain part of your body that you’re sensitive or self-critical about? Consider covering it with clothing so that it doesn’t stand out.

(5) Double the variety in your photographs by bringing a jacket, sweater, or accessory (hat, scarf, etc.) that you can wear in some photographs and take off in others. You can also use your accessories to add pops of color to an otherwise neutral palette.

(6) Iron your clothing before your session because wrinkles will show!

(7) If you plan to wear heels, you may also want to bring a comfortable pair of flats that you can walk in as we move from location to location.

(8) You are welcome to bring one or more changes of clothing to add more variety during your portrait session. That said, keep in mind that taking time to change clothes takes away from your portrait session time. For babies and young children who can be changed in public, clothing changes are easy and fast. For older children and adults, you will need to keep in mind distance to a changing area. Also, if you’re bringing additional clothing, you will be carrying it throughout the session! For older children and adults, I recommend a maximum of one clothing change per hour session, and only if a private changing area will be just a one or two minute walk away. When a private changing area is not close, you can add diversity to your portraits by bringing a sweater/jacket that can simply be put on over your existing clothes or adding accessories like hats and scarves.

One final note: of course, you want your kids to wear cute clothing. So do I! HOWEVER, if your portrait session is in the late fall or winter and includes young children, the #1 concern is to please make sure that you dress them warmly. From experience, I can tell you that if the kids feel cold, no amount of cajoling, making funny faces, or playing around with them will bring out their smiles. Instead, they’ll be runny-nosed and crying the whole time, and none of us want THAT for your family portraits! So please make sure to dress children warmly!

Accessories and Props

  • In addition, you can use accessories to tie together the colors that different people are wearing. For example, if one person is wearing green and another blue, one person can add an accessory that has both green and blue in it.
  • Also think about what you or your children enjoy doing. For example, if the portrait photography session theme is a walk in the woods, and your child like to play guitar, you can bring a guitar as a prop. For babies and young children, you can also bring props like a rocking horse, wagon, etc.
  • If your portraits involve a baby, please also bring a soft, thick blanket that can be laid on the grass in the case of outdoor, park settings.  You can also bring props like stuffed animals, rocking horse, wagon, etc.

MakeUp (Women Only)

You should treat this portrait photography session as a special occasion. If you normally wear makeup either on a daily basis or for special occasions, then we recommend you wear makeup for your portrait photography session. If you are a never-wear-makeup person, then that’s fine; there’s no need to change who you are for your portraits! If you would like to get your makeup (or hair) professionally done, our clients love Blo Blow Dry Bar in Gaithersburg, MD.

*** Please do not put anything oily on your face! ***


Please be sure to be on time (or better yet, early) for your session, so that you are able to enjoy the full length of time we’ve reserved for you. If you have never been to the location where your session will take place, I recommend that you plan to arrive early in case you have trouble finding the place.