Lights, camera, action … it’s family photo time! Whether your portrait will end up framed on the mantle or printed on dozens of “Happy Holidays” cards sent out to friends, there are a few things to keep in mind when dressing for a successful photo shoot. Consider these what-to-wear tips before stepping in front of the lens for your big close-up.


If your brood is clad in shades of green and you’re shooting in a grassy park, you might unintentionally blend into the background–literally. If you’re shooting outdoors, consider the possible backgrounds that you’ll be up against. If you’re going to a portrait studio, call ahead to see what color backgrounds the photographer will be using and aim to complement or contrast that color rather than match.

katefam2GET SHADY

Dressing every member of your family in identical shirts of the exact same shade can might make you look like one big colorful blob on-camera. If you’re drawn to one color in particular, vary the shade as well as what part of the body your family members are wearing it on. For example: Mom in a gray top and dark denim, Dad in a chambray shirt and gray chinos, Daughter in a blue floral dress with gray boots and Son in a blue-and-gray plaid button-down with medium-blue jeans.

12039566_10101053169003303_788365804158081078_nPLAY WITH PRINTS

Plaids, stripes and florals tend to photograph well, but some geometric prints–especially small-scale ones–can look too busy or play tricks on the eye when captured on camera. The prints you’re wearing should complement–rather than distract from–your family’s lovely faces.


Accessories can add a dose of attitude to your portrait, but as Tim Gunn would say on “Project Runway,” you’ll want to use them thoughtfully. If you’re all decked out in hats, statement necklaces, big earrings, bright tights and chunky scarves, you could easily look like you’re playing dress-up. Notable exception: If you’re going for a winter wonderland look, then by all means bundle everyone up in wooly hats, scarves and mittens.

bethboys 1LAYER IT UP

If your photo session time doesn’t allow for a full wardrobe change, layering can give you the effect of two different looks. Jean jackets, cardigans, vests or blazers can be worn over simple dresses or shirts for most of the shoot and then shed at the end for a few more casual, different shots.

No matter what you chose, bring your smiles and sense of humor (and maybe some snacks for the kids, too!) to ensure a happy holiday photo for all.