The Ultimate Family Photo “What to Wear” Guide

As one of Raleigh’s family photographer specialists, I can say with certainty that all of my clients worry about how to dress for their photos. Over time, I’ve come up with a fool proof method that has resulted in clients who feel confident on photo day.raleigh family photography

Here are my general guidelines that will help you choose the perfect clothing for your family’s next photo session:

  1. Dress like your family like you do on a typical day. If your little one hates jeans, please don’t make him wear them. If your husband’s summer attire is polo shirts and khaki shorts, just roll with it. You will find that the the images will look more authentic and your family will feel more comfortable during the session.
  2. Choose clothing that coordinates. It can be tempting to match everyone in identical outfits (especially along gender lines), but I discourage this because it can make the final images look a little “stiff.” By choosing a color palette that you love and dressing everyone around it, you will create a family that looks like they belong together while still celebrating everyone’s uniqueness. Plus, color coordinating will hide any individual article of clothing that isn’t “perfect” to you.
  3. Layers are your friend. Not only will they make it easier to create each outfit, but they will allow you some flexibility with the unpredictable weather that North Carolina is known for. In addition, layers will allow you to add variety to your images without having to change clothes mid-session. At the last session for my family, I had a sweater and scarf on hand. Our final images have different looks to them using those two pieces alone!raleigh family photography
3 Secrets To Great Outfits 3 Style Killers
Texture Sleeveless Shirts
Accessories Characters Tees & Large Logos
Color Loud Patterns

 raleigh family photography

With these rules in mind, here is my secret method for family clothing selection:

  1. Determine who is the most difficult to dress. Choices include: your daughter who is notorious picky but has a current favorite outfit that she is likely to wear without complaint, your husband who had three nice shirts to his name, or you, because there is one pair of pants that makes you forget what childbearing has done to your body. Everyone difficult? Assemble the must use pieces of clothing for each family member on the bed and continue.
  2. Look at the colors you’ve assembled so far. Use the existing color palette and the knowledge of who you have left to dress to decide on 2-3 colors. Favorites include: gray/navy/pink, teal/yellow/blue, orange/blue/brown, green/blue, purple/light blue, gray/red, yellow/blue/green
  3. Add articles of clothing from closets (or stores, if you must). Different shades of the same color are very forgiving so you don’t even need to worry about choosing the same exact shade. Use accessories like necklaces, scarves, or shoes to add bursts of color.
  4. Take a photo send to your photographer if you have questions. They are an invaluable resource and do not mind providing feedback (trust me, they don’t). Plus, if you get a glowing review, you’ll feel amazing about yourself!

raleigh family photography

To help you further visualize what is possible, here some featured images from my “what to wear” guides that I share with Raleigh families who book photography sessions with me! As you can see in these images and in the ones I’ve posted above (of real clients), outfit selection varies from family to family. In a Pinterest world where we are pressured to do everything just perfectly as moms, just be true to your family and your photos will follow!

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Jess Rotenberg
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Jess Rotenberg

Jessica Rotenberg is the owner of Raleigh-based Jess Rotenberg Photography. She is taking the stress out of getting family photos taken for Raleigh families and transforming their living rooms with beautiful photo walls in the process. She’s currently working on a second venture centered around customer service for small businesses and her writings have been featured on the Huffington Post.


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Jess Rotenberg
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  1. Pingback: Vend Raleigh Blog Round Up - Vend Raleigh : Vend Raleigh

  2. Pingback: What to Wear Wednesday | NC Family Portrait Photographer |

  3. For the photo shoot on the streets preferred bright outfits. In the gray, brown and black, you just simply merge with the background. But the rainbow is also not necessarily. About the colors, we’ll talk later.

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