Last week I revealed my current fixation with finding the most perfect outfits for our own upcoming family session. I shared with you what I feel at the best things to consider when planning outfits for a family photography session – the “DO’s“! This is part two, the DON’Ts!

In general, these are the things I believe do not photograph as well, or the things that might make you wince 10 years from now. I am even throwing in a few of my own cringe-worthy family photos (sorry mom) for your viewing pleasure.

1. Don’t get too matchy-matchy! OK, pretty much every blog post out there says this, so no big newsflash here – but 1994 called and they want their jeans and white button up’s back. Don’t do it! Do not dress everyone the same (unless of course that is just how your family rolls, then, by all means…go for it). I have even seen other photographers caution you to avoid dressing everyone in jeans, think of the other options out there – corduroy! leggings! skirts with colorful tights! dresses! Mix it up a bit to keep it interesting. *additional note: I may be the only one out there saying this, but I am not toooooootally opposed to the kids matching a little. I may be old-fashioned and out of date, but I still think that sometimes that can be kinda cute.

Blog {Rusted Van Photography}

Cicely’s matchy-matchy family photo circa 1989ish


2. Avoid graphics and logos! I would advise to tread lightly on T-Shirts in general, especially for us ladies. They are just not cut to flatter too many people! However, if you are blessed with a bod that looks good in a classic “T”, or you want to dress the kiddo’s in a T-shirt, I would then recommend you avoid any with big logos, graphics, or any variety of cartoon characters! These can be wildly distracting from the actual “characters” you want to shine in your photos – you and your family! Stick with solids or basic, all-around patterns.


Dan and his sister sport their best 70's graphic T's (which are actually both kinda awesome...but still)

Dan and his sister sport their best 70’s graphic T’s (which are actually both kinda awesome…but still)

3. Be cautious not to go too trendy! Is there a photo out there of you with a “Rachel” haircut, your fave pair of overalls and your big “Blossom” floppy hat? (Did I just date myself too much?) This can be a tough one because it can be hard sometimes to take off those fashionable rose-colored glasses and see a trend for what it really is. Sadly, sometimes we get sucked into the trend-machine and go for it. Instead, I recommend you wear a clothing that flatters you, your body type and YOUR style. I really loved both this and this article with some additional fashion tips. Check them out!


4. Don’t overdo the patterns! Be careful about dressing your family in too many loud patterns. Too many patterns can be visually chaotic and leave you feeling dizzy, anxious and panicked…OK, maybe that is an exaggeration, but it is a little bit overwhelming to see too much pattern in one photograph, especially if not well thought out and coordinated. I would try to limit the patterns to no more than 2-3 and find ones that compliment one another – maybe gingham or plaid for the hubs, stripes for junior and polka dots for lil’ sis. Once you have your outfits altogether, see if additional layers can help to tone things down if needed. Too many plaids in the group? Maybe a solid sweater layered on top with just a little peek-a-boo of plaid would be a better balance?


Wow! Look at those matching dresses! Cicely (and family circa 1989)

Other General No-No’s:

– Don’t wear something you have never, ever worn before! Give it a test run to be sure you are comfortable!

– Don’t be too stuffy or unnatural – pick outfits that feel like “you”

– Unless you have killer upper arms, avoid sleeveless styles

– Don’t try a new stylist, haircut and color the day before your session, that just seems like a disaster waiting to happen (give yourself at least a week for an emergency “fix it”)


Think I am done? Oh no…keep an eye out for Part Three of my “What to Wear” blog series!



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