October 21, 2020

What Not to Wear for your At-Home Family Photo Session

So, guys, I’ve been at this at-home family photo session thing for almost ten years.  (Yes, TEN – can you believe it?) I’ve done client guides and style guides and given years of advice on what to wear for your at-home family photo session. But the real truth is, at least in my book, pretty much anything goes as long as it’s comfortable and true to you.

Almost anything goes.  But if I’m honest, there’s a fairly decent list I can share on what not to wear, so I thought I may as well just come out and share that list.

Don’t Wear Anything Fussy or Precious

Comfort is key, friends.  If you’re not comfortable, it will show in the images.  My super power is helping you to relax and be yourself — don’t give me clothing that challenges my super power, K? Things that fall into this category — blouses on you that need constant adjusting or that allow bra straps to peek out and need constant tucking. Collars and vests on babies that cover their faces when you pick them up.  Hair styles that need constant fluffing/swiping/smoothing.    If they’ve got long bangs that constantly fall in their faces and you’re going to feel compelled to put your hand in their faces every few minutes to swipe those bangs back, consider what those photos are going to look like. (Spoiler alert — many, many moments ruined by mom’s stressed expression, her hand in front of kiddo’s annoyed face).  Trim the bangs, use a clip/headband, OR just leave it be.  If that’s what they look like most of the time (and if they can see), you’ll all be happier if you leave it alone.  And if you’re all happier, thinking about being together instead of what that bra strap, collar or hairdo is doing — I’m telling you — you’ll like your photos better.

Don’t Wear Anything that Will Cause you to Shun Your Own Children

Children will play and snack and do what children do, which almost always involves getting dirty.  It’s OK to wear white, BUT, go into the situation accepting that it’ll probably need to be washed afterwards!

Don’t Wear Anything that Will Bare Parts you don’t want Showing if You Play with Your Kids.

You look FAB in the low cut blouse, but when you’re at our session, you will NOT be standing in that perfect spine-straight, shoulders back, hands-on-hops pose.  Do yourself a favor and bend over in front of the mirror as if you’re about to give your four year old a hug and see what it looks like then.

Don’t Wear Logos or Neon Colors

Big logos and graphics are distracting.  If you must wear a graphic tee, make sure it says something you will want to see for generations to come.  Neon Causes color casts, and we’re not going for green/orange/pink/yellow faces.  ‘Cause they, too, are distracting.

Don’t Wear Anything too Bulky

I love layers and textures, but keep in mind that very oversized garments will make you look bigger than you are.

For Outdoor Sessions/Portions, Dress for the Weather

Yes, I know that your kid runs outside on cold days refusing to wear a coat.  Or that he insists on wearing his favorite sweatshirt on 90 degree days.  Please, do NOT assume that he will be this easygoing on the day you show up for your outdoor session and he’s wearing something you picked out despite the cold/warm temps.  If he decides he’s uncomfortable, we don’t want that (and the power struggle that inevitably comes when we tell him he can’t put on his coat or take off that wool sweater his grandma knit for him) to be the story of our time together. Take that worry (and the inevitable negotiation) out of the equation and we can have a good time together outside.

Well, What SHOULD you Wear?

I don’t mean to be a negative Nelly, telling you only what not to do.  Know what?  I’ve been sharing tops on what you SHOULD wear for years — have a look HERE for that different perspective! Or … take a peek a the included examples from a session where a family got it right.  Showing up in PJ’s, or allowing a little dress up, or giving in to insistence that they wear their favorite leopard-print jacket in August —  are sure ways to help keep the focus on telling the story of WHO you are as a family right now, and taking the stress of everyone looking ‘perfect’ for every photo off the table.  That’s what we’re going for, friends.


Jaye McLaughlin Photography specializes in documentary style lifestyle family and newborn photography in Westchester County, NYC, Connecticut and beyond.  I would love to begin planning your family photo session. View more of my work in my family portfolio HERE.  Check out some brand new sweetness in my newborn portfolio HERE. If you’re interested in a family, newborn or maternity session and would like to learn more, click HERE.  To get in touch, just go HERE, or email me or call me directly at jaye@jayemclaughlin.com or 914.263.0236.  I look forward to hearing from you!