Planning a photoshoot can be an exciting family activity. But, it can also become overwhelming when it comes time to decide what to wear. A photoshoot stylist can help you create a cohesive and stylish look for your shoot. But, if you are going to DIY the outfits for your family photoshoot, your gonna need a plan. In this style guide, you’ll find tips on what to wear, where to shop, and where to turn for help if you need it.
This guide is meant to provide you with the resources to style your session on your own!
- How to Choose Your Best Neutrals
- What to Wear for Photoshoots
- Where to Shop for Outfits
This style guide also contains a Canva Template to help you find the right colors to wear. It’s super easy to use and the absolute starting point for planning. I hope you enjoy this and find it helpful, and if you have any questions don’t hesitate to DM me on Instagram @thekristincruz.
When to Start Planning for a Photoshoot
So, when should you start planning for a photoshoot? As soon as possible! You have officially begun planning if you are reading this so…yay! You are ahead of the game already.
There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to fully styling your photoshoot, and often packages to wait on arriving, so it best to start as early as you can. A to-do list is a must, so nothing gets overlooked.
How to Choose the Color of YOUr Outfits
The color of your dress matters even more than the style! Color is the difference between you glowing or looking tired, it has a great effect on your complexion and the overall feeling of your images. After all, color is the first thing the human eye notices.
I recommend getting a Color Analysis done before the shoot to make sure that the color of the dress you choose is the perfect shade for you so you can get the best pictures possible. But, if you don’t have the time to get a Color Analysis completed, there is a shortcut that can help you to choose a few good neutrals for you.
There are three places on your body that you can give you neutral colors that will work for you every time. Your eyes, skin and hair. Pure black, dark browns, bright whites and ivories are not neutrals that are flattering for everyone! People can have either warm, cool or neutral undertones…and those undertones determine what families of colors look best on us.
The simplest and most reliable part of your body to use are your eyes. If you take a very close up and clear image of your eyes you can see what your darkest neutral should be in the line around your iris. That is your own personal version of “black”.
The main color in your eyes, the darkest and lightest colors, will also work as neutral colors for you. To get the exact shade upload the picture to your computer and download the ColorPick Eyedropper extension for Google Chrome or you can simply upload a photo into Canva and use their color dropper tool. Take the hex number that is given to you there and plug it into this Canva Template I am providing for you. You can save the image with your neutrals to your phone as a photo to use this palette when shopping for outfits. You can even do the same process for everyone in the photoshoot and create a custom palette for your family of their perfect neutrals.
I use a similar but more in depth process for clients when I am styling them for their photoshoot. After a color analysis is completed I get a complete range of colors that work for each person in the shoot. I also compare those colors with the colors that are best suited for the environment the shoot is happening in. Together I get the absolute best range of colors to choose from that make everything blend and compliment each other. The clothing compliments the person and the environment, so that your eye isn’t distracted from what the focus should be in the photo, your faces! You can do the same by sticking to your best neutrals as they will look great on you.
Dresses for photoShoots
Dresses are my number one pick for photoshoots, specifically Maxis. Jeans are great too, but I always choose a dress when I can. The styles of dresses you can wear are endless, so it’s good to have a few pieces of information to narrow your search down. First, your best neutrals, which you just learned how to find. Then, take into account your proportions and body shape.
When you choose a dress your goal is to balance your shape out and highlight what you’d like to show in your photos. The dress you choose for a photoshoot may be something you never ever wear in normal life. I rarely wear midi’s or maxi’s. But, in photoshoots they are my go to. If I wear a shorter dress my legs will show in the photoshoot, which actually makes me look shorter. Also, when you bend over or sit in a field of flowers it may not be that comfortable and you may end up showing a little too much for a family photoshoot. So, long dresses cover me up and protect me from the elements. They also fall so nicely when my kids pile on top of me as you can see in the image below from Kimberly Minor Photography.
Dresses that are comfy and flowy and hug just the right places make the best choice. There is a dress for every body type and size, you just have to know what you are looking for. So, I mentioned balancing your proportions before. The usual advice is to turn your body shape, whether its an inverted triangle or rectangle or apple, into an hourglass figure. I think that is definitely a way to balance your proportions as an hourglass figure is naturally balanced. My only problem with that is that I think it is limiting. That way of thinking also may make you miss out of what is beautiful and unique about your body type.
So, what should you do? Really you can’t lose either way. You can aim for an hourglass figure because that’s an easy way to balance yourself out. A quick google search of the best dresses for your body shape will help you do that. Or, go with what you’ve got and try not to unbalance your figure unnecessarily. Maxi dresses create the bottom half you need to balance your figure out, you just need to be careful with the top you choose. Off the shoulder is a great option for most people!
If you’d like to figure out what shape your body is there a good calculator here. You can also figure it out just by taking a good look in the mirror at yourself. Are your shoulders wider than your hips? Are your shoulders more narrow than your hips? Or, are your shoulders and hips about the same width? The style of dress you choose is going to try and balance those areas of your body out if you are shooting for an hourglass figure. Empire waists work great for an apple shape as long at the tightest part falls right below your chest.
If you’d like to highlight your body shape instead, then choose a style that highlights your favorite part of your body. If you’ve got an inverted triangle body shape you most likely have great shoulders. Aim for a style that is off the shoulder or has a low cut back to show off your lines. If you are comfortable with your rectangular shape, just make sure that you don’t overweigh the top or bottom of your body with extra frills or layers that make you unbalanced. Look for a dress that fits your body as it is.
But, let’s say that you booked your photoshoot but you aren’t wanting to “show anything off”. There’s plenty of people in that situation, I was in that situation for our last photoshoot. I didn’t want to show anything off, so instead of planning my dress around what I wanted to show off, I planned it around what I wanted to hide!
I chose puffed sleeves to hide my upper arms. A long dress to hide my belly. And, a smocked bodice to hide any lumps! It worked, it hid what I wanted to hide and didn’t really highlight any part of my body in most of the shots. Sometimes, at certain times of our lives, that’s the stage we are in and that is okay. It shouldn’t keep us from making memories with our families where we are actually in the picture.
Look for a dress that matches the color palette of neutrals you found before. Make sure to reference those colors specifically while shopping to make sure you get just the right shades. I usually shop for clients on my computer so I can do a split screen of their photoshoot palette and the clothing I am shopping for to make sure I am picking just the right tones. It’s not very easy for the eye to determine between warm and cool colors by memory, so a direct comparison works best.
Texture and Lines
Don’t miss out on any opportunities to add depth to your photos with textures and lines. This adorable little girl’s outfit is a great example of just that. The texture and center line in her dress add interest to the photo as do the ruffles. Her mom did her hair perfectly and her photographer blended that all together so well and ended up with this work of art.
Here’s another example of adding interest by choosing fabrics with depth to them. The dots on these sleeves add some nice dimension to what otherwise could have been just a sheer fabric. Look for pieces that give your pictures a 3d effect, think ruffles, gauze, patterns, lace, silk and velvet.
Outfits for your Partner
And now for your partner! Cozy sweaters and pants with some texture are a good choice. Think corduroy or monochromatic herringbone patterned pants. Steer clear of any shirts with mascots or logos on them. Logos and words on shirts distract the eye from the subject in the photo. My favorite pieces for guys are usually from Zara, H&M and Amazon.
Outfits for Babies
There are endless cute options out there for babies and it’s super fun to dress them! Think cute and cozy hats for little boys. Bonnets and bows are great for little girls. Try not to dress your baby in super bright colors, look for muted, icy or pastel colors instead. You don’t have to stick to just neutral colors, but you just don’t want super bright options to take away from the babies face in the pictures.
Just as for adults, look at your babies eyes for a clue to the colors that will work best. If your baby is born with bright blue eyes, stick with blues and pastels. Gray eyes, stick in that range of colors and add in some whites and softer colors.
Make sure to have some swaddles on hand that coordinate with your outfits. You’ll want to add dimension and patterns carefully so that they coordinate but don’t match. You’ll be holding your baby in some photos and if you match completely with flat colors you turn into one big blob with heads in the pictures…not a great look! You can wear the same color families, just as long as they are in different shades. Make sure to add neutral pieces to break up the colors if you choose to not do all neutrals.
Outfits for Siblings
So, you’ve got more cuties to dress! If you are getting to the point where you are dressing more than 3 people it’s going to get a little tougher to manage. Try to stick with the neutrals you have already chosen, keeping in mind the colors that will work best on all those in the photo based on the exact colors in their eyes. If you need some help with this part, check out the 5 Fully Coordinated Outfits for more Inspo.
The Last Steps
Once you find or order outfits for each member of the family your going to have a few more steps to complete once everything arrives. Take a picture of all of the outfits both on and hanging next to each other or laying on the bed. Check that everything fits everyone correctly and that the colors all coordinate and flatter each person.
And don’t forget about your shoes and accessories. Hats are a great addition to any session! If you are wearing a maxi or having the photoshoot in your house or on the beach, you may not even have to worry about your shoes at all. But, if you are headed outside for your shoot make sure to pick shoes that are comfy, boots often work well with most dresses.
Hair, Makeup and Jewelry for Photoshoots
Makeup is also a little different for photoshoots. You want to create dimension by using highlights and contours. I love NARS for contour and highlighters. Sephora also has specific brushes that make the process easier. I recommend going to the store to get help choosing all of this makeup if you don’t already own some. Stick with neutral colors that work best for your skin tone, and a lipstick that is a shade darker than your natural lip color. Makeup colors are provided in every Color Analysis service, so if you are stuck here, check that out.
I tend to stick with very minimalistic jewelry pieces for photoshoots so they do not become distractions in the final images. Bigger necklaces can get tangled up during your sessions and ruin perfectly good pictures. Thin necklaces and your wedding ring are usually enough, if you choose to wear any jewelry at all. Hair is usually best worn down and wavy or straight, whatever feels most like you and has volume and bounce. It’s great if you can go to a salon to get your hair professionally done for your session. But, if you can’t and have to do your own hair, I highly recommend the Beachwaver (affiliate link) and use the coupon code KRISTINCWAVE to get 10% off. I use it almost every day and it makes curling your hair so much easier, especially the back which was always hard for me!
If you need some help
I am so excited that you are planning your family photoshoot, they are such great experiences and memory making opportunities! If you used this guide and have your family photos to share, I’d love to see how they came out! I’m always hanging out on Instagram so come say hey!