What Are The Best Clothes To Wear For Outdoor Family Photos?

A family photo shoot outdoors in Richmond Upon Thames

You’ve booked your outdoor family photo shoot, and can’t wait to finally have some photographs of everyone together that you’re proud to display at home.

One of the next things you might start to think about is what everyone should wear.

Choosing what to wear is the one decision that all of my clients want to discuss with me, and I completely understand how significant it can feel. You’re making an investment in professional photographs and want to make sure that everyone looks their best.

You might be wondering how formal you should be, what colours you should wear, and whether your children will agree to wear the outfits you’ve chosen!

In this article I’ll explain how to create a timeless, cohesive look when choosing outfits for your outdoor family photographs.

Creating a cohesive look in your outdoor family photographs

When you’re choosing outfits for your outdoor family photographs I recommend considering how your clothes complement the natural environment around you, and how the whole family’s outfits complement each other.

There are six principles that I recommend families follow when choosing their outfits:

  1. Dress for your environment
  2. Make sure you’re all dressed for the same weather and occasion
  3. Choose a colour scheme for your family photos
  4. Embrace layers and textures
  5. Avoid pictures and slogans
  6. Choose clothes that are a good fit

What to wear for outdoor family photos


When you’re choosing outfits for your family the best place to start is with the environment you’re going to be in for the photo shoot. What kind of clothes would you usually wear there?

From there, make your outfits a little smarter than usual.

For example if you’re having an Autumn photo shoot in the park it will look much more natural if you all dress in smart/casual clothes and wellies than if you’re in your Sunday best.


Similarly, as you put your family’s outfits together make sure that everyone in your family is dressed for the same weather and occasion.

For example if everyone is wearing short sleeved tops with shorts or skirts, but one person is wearing a thick cardigan or coat the person in the cardigan or coat will look out of place.

Similarly if one person is in shorts and a t-shirt whilst everyone else has formal dresses and trousers on the person in shorts will look out of place. Making sure that you’re all dressed for the same weather and occasion will make sure you look cohesive as a group.

Reigate, Surrey Family Photographer | Clare Murthy Photography

Choose a Colour Scheme For Your Family Photos

Colour coordination might sound a little OTT  but choosing complementary colours can really bring photographs together, and importantly make sure that we see the people first and their clothes second.

This doesn’t mean that everyone has to wear the same thing, or that everyone has to wear every colour in your colour scheme. The goal is to coordinate not match.

When putting together your family’s colour scheme choose a maximum of three or four colours that run through it.

If you’re not sure where to start it might help to think of one outfit that you definitely want to include and build your colour scheme with three or four colours and tones that compliment it. Or choose one patterned item – for example a little girl’s skirt or mum’s favourite scarf – and use the colours from that as the basis of your scheme.


The best colours for outdoor family pictures

As you choose your colour scheme, take some time to consider the colours that will surround you in your chosen location, as these will also influence the colours that will work best for your shoot.

For example, during the spring and summer nature provides a softer colour palette – think pretty spring flowers, or long grasses in the summer. During the autumn and winter there can be much more brown, gold, and orange.

With this in mind, soft neutral colours tend to work well during the spring and summer, whilst deep, bold colours can work well during the autumn and winter.

You can read more about choosing colours that complement your environment in these seasonal guides:


Colours to avoid in outdoor family pictures

One other factor to consider is that there are some that don’t work well in outdoor family pictures at any time of year.

Black, neon, and very bright colours generally don’t work well in outdoor photos, and can make them look quite imbalanced as they are so different to the softer colour palette that Mother Nature provides. I recommend avoiding them completely.

what to wear for outdoor family pictures


Layering and using different textures can add a lot of dimension and interest to your photos. Think gilets, cardigans and jackets.

This can be particularly useful during early spring or the autumn, when the weather’s cooler. If you don’t want everyone to wear their coats, layers can keep you all warm instead.

Accessories can also work well too, if they are what you would normally wear in that location – hats, scarves, jewellery and hair bands for example can add depth and texture to your photographs.



This one might not be popular with your superhero-mad children, but clothes with pictures and slogans on will date your photos much more quickly. It’s usually best to avoid them completely.

what to wear for outdoor family photos


This is particularly important for children, as they grow so quickly. It’s often inevitable that sometimes their clothes are a bit too small, or a bit too big.

However, for your photo shoot I recommend choosing clothes that fit well now, rather than having room to grow. Clothes that are too big can sometimes appear to drown children in photographs. Clothes that fit will give a much sharper image.


Summary: What to wear for outdoor family photos

I hope that you’ve found this article useful as you plan outfits for your family to wear at your outdoor photo shoot.

Keeping in mind the overall aim of complimenting your environment and each other should help you achieve that cohesive look.

It can often be helpful to see real-life examples of how other families have coordinated their outfits. A good place to start is in your photographer’s portfolio. You can also find more inspiration over on my “What to Wear” Pinterest board:

Follow Clare’s board on Pinterest.

Over to You

I’d love to hear how you get on with choosing your outfits for your outdoor family shoot. Do let me know in the comments below, or send me a message here.


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You may also find these articles helpful:

How to look good in photos

What to do if you’re camera shy

How to do your own makeup for photo shoots


Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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