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A lot of clients are clueless about what to wear for family portraits. So if you’re one of those people, you’re not alone. Here is a little bit of insight on what I think works for family photos.

Gone are the days of wearing black and khaki or white t-shirts and jeans. While they are a classic look, they also remind me of photo sessions from J.C. Penney. We’ve all been guilty of doing it, but let’s not make the same mistake again. The only time I’d recommend black and khaki is for newborn shots. Nothing looks better than a cute little bundle of joy up next to black shirts. The contrast is beautiful. However, with family photos- times are changing and it’s time to have fun with your clothing. While we want everyone to complement each other, being too “matchy-matchy” is a bit extreme.

Layer, layer, layer. Not only do layers and texture look great in a photo, but that gives you options to differentiate photos. Adding a blazer or a scarf to an outfit makes it look more complete and helps you pop out from your backgrounds. By the end of the shoot, you can take off some of the layers and you’ll end up looking like you have on a completely new outfit!

Accessorize, but don’t over do it! Add a broach to sweater or wear a fun necklace with a dress. Adding accessories not only incorporate your personality into the photo, but like I said earlier- will help complete your outfit. However, adding too many accessories will only make the photo look disorganized and like a jumbled mess. One tip I always go by is accessorize with what you want to wear and then take off one thing. That one thing usually will put you over the edge.

Be bold with your color choices. While a blue dress works great with someone who has blue eyes, sometimes it’s fun to add some rich colors to the photo. Not only will bold colors liven up the photo, but they’ll also add color to your face. Neutrals tend to wash people out.. a bold blue or yellow captures the viewers attention and gives depth to the photo.

Accent colors. If you want a unified theme for your family, try using accent colors. For instance, purple and yellow work great together. Pick one of the colors as your main color and then just have lighter accents of the other color. You’ll not only tie the whole group together, but the pops of color will really add dimension and texture to the photo. Tie the accent color into your under shirt, jewelry, scarf, socks, whatever. It doesn’t have to be blatantly obvious, but the little pops of the second color will really tie the photo together.

Change up the fabrics. Not everyone needs to be in polos or jeans. You can add texture to the photo with layers, accessories and with a variety of fabrics (knits, ruffles, denim, corduroy, etc.) Think about coordinating your outfits, NOT matching them.

Let your personalities shine through! From props to clothing, every little thing adds to the picture and helps tell the story. Don’t wear something you don’t like, you’ll regret it later. Pick outfits that reflect each individual’s style. Each person in a family is different and so should be their outfits. Choosing accent colors will help pull the entire look together.

And probably my number one rule is to definitely avoid big logos or graphics on shirts- there’s nothing more distracting than a giant logo popping out. You want the viewer to see you and not the brand on your clothes.

If you’re in need of inspiration, browse some of your favorite stores websites. The models they use tend to follow these same rules. A lot of times you’ll see outfit ideas that coordinate really well together. Take those ideas and then head to your closets. Most likely, the inspiration you found on the website will help you with what to wear. Some websites that I think work really well for this are: Anthropologie, Gap, J.Crew, Abercrombie, Abercrombie Kids, Gap Kids, Express and Banana Republic.

Lastly, always talk with your photographer. They’ll not only be able to give you more insight, but they’ll help you coordinate it with the props you may be using and the setting of your photoshoot. Not all outfits work with all locations. When in doubt, just ask.