Diana's Photo Expressions | What To Wear


Diana’s tips for ‘picture perfect’ family wardrobes


1. Look at your home décor and color schemes.  If you’re hoping to use your images as wall art for your house, look around and start limiting your color palette to coordinate with your home.  My home is mostly earthy tones, so I tend to lean toward those colors for my personal selection.  Do you have neutrals, grays, warm beige, bright colors? 

2. Consider comfort, personalities and styles of everyone in your family.  If your little boy never wears jeans, take that into consideration.  If kids aren’t ‘comfortable’ in their clothes, it’s probably not going to be a ‘fun’ session for anyone.   And follow this advice for yourself also—I am most comfortable in a long casual skirt, jeans or capris.  Don’t wear something that isn’t ‘you.’

3. Think simple and timeless.  Ask yourself how your clothing selections might look five or ten years from now.  Solid colors are great.

4. Consider how you want to use your pictures.  Many people are thinking ‘Christmas cards’ or prints for gifts.  Or maybe you want to decorate a specific room in your house or just display on social media.  Do you like to design your Christmas cards with your photos in mind?  All of these factors may determine your decision of choosing either neutral, bright or specific colors for your family wardrobe.  Look through my photo galleries for ideas of what to wear.

5. Plan ahead.  If you are shopping for clothes, start looking as soon as you make your photo appointment.  Make sure all clothes are cleaned, laid out, ironed, etc at least a day before your session to avoid last minute stress.

6. Coordinate colors (just not identical).  Pick one color and go monochromatic with varying shades (example: light blue, dark blue and denim).  Or choose a few different complimentary colors.  Examples: earthy tones (think fall colors of yellow, beige, brown, orange). If everyone shows up in identical matching colors, it just doesn’t look natural.   Gone are the days of khakis (or jeans) with white button up shirts.

7. Accessorize.  Scarves are a great way to add a pop of color and interest.  I love fun jewelry or a cute jacket.  Consider your personal style though—be ‘you.’

8. Consider your background/setting.  If your session is outside, make sure you are in ‘outdoorsy’ attire—something comfortable that you can sit in without being too fussy.  If outdoor colors are green/grassy then avoid wearing green for example.  Think complimentary and contrasting colors with your background.  If you are planning on a studio session, do you want it to look formal or informal?

9. Layer clothing.  This a great rule for yourself, too!  Especially important for young kiddos and fall sessions—it’s nice to have a warm and cool option and layering with a sweatshirt or jacket is perfect.  Layering your clothes can also be a way to hide some extra weight (3/4 length sleeves or long sleeves are great for that too).

10. Something different than your last photo session.  Many families do photo sessions once a year or every other year.  Switch things up!  Consider your favorite sports teams and activities.  My hubby loves it when we do ‘sports attire’ and this selection is usually helpful to get dads ‘into’ the photo session thing too.  Families playing football together in jerseys or favorite team shirts is always fun.  Or just consider your color schemes from what you’ve done in the past and mix it up and do something different.




1. Dressing in a different season than you’re being photographed in.  Don’t plan to wear short sleeves or summer clothes for fall pictures.  If possible, plan for layers in the fall, especially for little kiddos so you have options due to varying weather temperatures and conditions.  Don’t plan on jeans for summer sessions.  And don’t mix seasons of clothes within your family for the sake of matching colors.

2. Characters, logos and words on clothing.  You are probably not being photographed for the Eddie Bauer catalog or the Gap website, so avoid wording (unless it’s intentional for your favorite sports team).  This is the same for logos and characters—avoid them for professional pictures.  They are just distracting and draw your attention away from faces.

3. Lots of patterns.  A little bit of pattern is fun and adds interest.  Generally speaking, smaller patterns and prints will look better—smaller plaids and or small stripes.  ‘Loud’ or ‘big’ patterns can be distracting and also give the illusion of extra weight.  Too much pattern can take away from facial expressions and connections that you’re wanting your pictures to convey.  Consider your patterns and how they may look five years from now.

4. Matchy-matchy.  Maybe I’m being redundant, but I highly recommend against identical clothing colors and selections.  It just doesn’t look natural.  If you’re too stressed out about what to wear, choose a different solid color for everyone.  Trust me, it will look better than everyone dressed the same.

5. White and neons.  Generally all white is just not the best choice for complementing most skin tones, photographing and just ‘outdoor’ pictures in general.  Likewise with bright neon colors—avoid them.

6. Super trendy looks.  Specifically, boutique clothes tend to be very trendy (and expensive).  Don’t get me wrong, there are some VERY cute boutique and trendy clothes, but don’t overlook the simple solids for your family sessions.  Sometimes the adorably patterned boutique clothes are better for milestone sessions than being mixed in with family portraits.

7. Purchasing a family wardrobe of ‘picture clothes’ that you’ll never wear again.  Yep, I’m guilty of this.  I’m also guilty of glassy-eyed shopping trips in search of the perfect picture clothes.  You really don’t have to purchase all new clothes.  Your best options are probably within your closets already.  Choose something you feel good in and you LOVE, not something for the sake of matching for pictures.  Save your ‘picture wardrobe money’ and invest in nice quality prints and canvas gallery wraps for your walls.  These will last much longer than your family wardrobe.

8. Stressing about the perfect family wardrobe. Put things into perspective… your photo session is about your family, your kids, your faces, your expressions and how you interact with each other.  It’s not about wearing an expensive label, hours of stressing about what you should wear, or too much money spent on ‘picture clothes’ that won’t be worn again.  You are wanting to capture moments and milestones in your family’s life.

9. Last minute shoe selections.  Shoes do matter, although if this is one thing to ‘forget’ or not stress about, this would be it.  If you don’t want your shoes to show up in your pictures, make sure you let me know ahead of time.  Likewise, make sure shoes are comfortable (for everyone) and appropriate to the season.

10. Outfit changes during a session.  For family sessions, ONE outfit for everyone is enough.  I want to be able to spend your session time having fun, showing connections with your family, having real moments….not having a rushed session to fit in a variety of outfits.  Changing clothes (especially for little kids and dads) typically brings on meltdowns and ‘being done’ sooner than later.



1. Decide on a few possible color schemes.

2. Look in your closet first (or shop for yourself first).

3. ‘Shop’ in everyone’s closets first to pull out options and get inventory.

4. Decide on mom’s attire first, then kids, then dad.  (I always do girls first, boys last).

5. Lay out all options and start mixing to visualize.

6. Take pictures of clothes laid out.

7. Have everyone try on clothes DAYS BEFORE your session to ensure everything fits and to avoid last minute meltdowns while you’re getting ready for your photo session (and yes, this includes dads, too).

8. Text or message me your pictures if you’re still undecided or want advice.

9. Lay out everything ahead of time a few days before (wash, iron, etc.).

10. If you have young babies or kids that your are concerned with ‘spitting up’ or getting dirty, throw in an extra shirt or clothing option just in case.


And if you’ve read this whole thing, I hope it has helped and not stressed you out even more!  If so, go back to #8 on the 'avoid' list.