Family photo sessions have come a long way. If your parents were anything like mine, you probably remember being forced into scratchy clothes and dragged to the local portrait studio to pose with your sibling in identical outfits, back-to-back with your arms crossed. The epitome of awkward family photos. Luckily, those days are over, and less posed, more natural sessions are now in style—as are significantly less matchy-matchy ensembles. If you’re worried about committing a fashion faux pas during your next shoot and dragging your partner and kids down with you, we’ve got you. We spoke to lifestyle and documentary photographer Janis Lempera to get the lowdown on what looks best on camera in 2024 (so you’ll be proud to share your photos on Tinybeans!).

Location, location, location

a professional photo of a family dressed in blues and white with a pop of orange, one of the best family photo outfit ideas
Janis Lempera

When you think of a family photoshoot, plaid shirts, cable-knit sweaters, and ankle boots might come to mind. And if you’re planning a fall shoot at a pumpkin patch, that would be perfect. But if your backdrop is the beach or a lush garden, not so much. Janis encourages families to consider the setting. “Really look at the palette of your surroundings,” she explains, and try to choose colors that complement it.

Pastels and neutrals look great on a beach while richer, jewel-toned hues will pop in the woods. If you’re shooting in your home, choose shades that go with your interior. For example, you’ll want to avoid bold prints and colors if you’ve got a farmhouse-style vibe. You’ll also want to think about the temperature; you don’t want to be shivering in a t-shirt or sweating through a wool coat.

Keep it comfy

The last thing you want is to look at these pictures years down the road and think, What was I wearing?! So start with your own style and personality, Janis suggests. If you’re more of a dressed-down kind of family, embrace it. If you’re uncomfortable in what you wear it’ll show—you’ll likely be stiff and awkward and constantly wondering how you look instead of having fun with your favorite people.

Janis reminds parents that the same goes for kids, so find something that showcases their personality. If they’re not used to wearing bowties or suspenders, they’re more likely to be grumpy and uncooperative in them. And remember that you’re not a family of mannequins, so choose clothes that are easy to move around in so you can get down and play with the kids or twirl them around.

Knix the matchy-matchy look

a professional photo of a family dressed in neutrals with a pop of peach, one of the best family photo outfit ideas
Janis Lempera

Aim for outfits that are cohesive but don’t look like you just stepped out of a department store catalog. It’s easiest to start with one person’s ensemble. If mom has a floral dress that she absolutely loves, draw inspiration for your color palette from that, says Janis. You want to stick to just three or four hues max.

Related: 11 Less Obvious Pics That Should Make It Into Every Baby’s Photo Album

What are some of our faves? Blues and whites are totally classic, but try to avoid everyone wearing the same white on top and blue on the bottom (mix it up with dresses, hats, button-up shirts, and different textures, or have one person in a navy blouse and jeans while others are in white tops or dresses). The same goes for black and white. You’ll also get a timeless look when you pair muted blues, mossy greens, and yellows with neutrals like grey or beige—plus these colors typically complement everyone. Mustard or mauve with cream and olive also makes for a nice mix, especially in the spring (picture your little one in an olive overall paired with a cream tee while mom has on a cream dress with a delicate mauve floral). Pops of burgundy or peach work well with denim, charcoal, and navy for winter shoots, and if you find yourself in the desert we love pulling out earthy tones like cinnamon, rust, taupe, and green.

Experiment with textures

a professional photo of a mother with her son dressed in a lace blouse, one of the best family photo outfit ideas
Janis Lempera

Different textures and layers help to add personality and depth to a photo, Janis says, and you don’t have to fear layering in warmer seasons. It doesn’t have to be heavy jackets or sweaters but think about lace, linen, cords, and lightweight knits. There are also so many adorable pointelle outfits for babe, and you can try playing with subtle patterns on one or two people. And don’t forget about footwear, which can also be a good place to share a fun family tradition, like having everyone wear their favorite Converse or Vans.

Incorporate accessories

While you may want to leave your smartwatch behind, Janis says there’s no need to leave out timeless pieces that you love. Jewelry is an obvious choice but you can also try out a bow or headband, neck scarf, or even colorful socks. Just don’t overdo it. Pick a couple of meaningful pieces that work alongside your chosen color palette. “And be mindful of what’s in your pockets,” says Janis. “A lot of people put their phones in the front pockets of their jeans and it leaves a big rectangle.”

Pack backups

Be sure to bring a second (or third) outfit for little ones that goes with your look. Because… well, kids are kids. And you never know when you might come across the perfect puddle to jump in or the best hill to roll down. “I once had a little girl fall and then for the rest of the session we were kind of hiding her a little behind her mom because she was covered in mud,” laughs Janis.

Say cheese and have fun!

a professional photo of siblings dressed in fall shades of denim, green and brown, one of the best family photo outfit ideas
Janis Lempera

Once you’ve got all your outfits picked out, it’s not a bad idea to do a practice run. Have everyone try on their clothes and snap a couple of photos on your phone to see if you’ve achieved the look you’re going for. It’s also a good time to make sure everyone is comfortable and knows what to expect.

Speaking of expectations, parents, this one’s for you: Don’t forget to let loose. Run after the kiddos, let them scream in delight, catch those candid moments, and let them enjoy it. Does your toddler have a costume they insist on wearing every single day? Bring it along—it’s a nice bit of incentive for the end of the shoot that lets their personality shine. Trust us, the memories will be priceless.

Be sure to share all the best photos with family and friends near and far on the Tinybeans app. The secure platform puts parents in total control of who sees and interacts with photos and videos of their kids.

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