The basics of how to choose outfits for your outdoor family photo shoot

The great outdoors is the ultimate backdrop so there’s no need to worry about having enough photo opportunities. We'll have discussed the look you're going for for your family's photos before hand and chosen the location to suit. Now all that’s left to do is choose your outfit for the shoot.

Let’s start with a few no-nos.

You might be a fan of bold accessories and fun patterns but if you’re shooting your photos outside, wearing items like this will place the focus on your clothing instead of you, your family and your beautiful outdoor setting. Unless you usually wear bold colours or patterns, dress in something that suits your usual style and that you're comfortable in. It’s also important that you avoid any outfits that will bring attention to your bra straps or tan lines.

The same goes for hair and makeup. Your outdoor photo shoot is not the right time to try out a new hairstyle or use new makeup. Go for the tried and tested, and experiment when it's not going to be digitally immortalised.

Getting it right

Causal and natural are what you want to aim for in your outdoor photos. Pairing jeans with a one pattern shirt, blouse or top always works really well in an outdoor setting.

Any outfits that will draw attention to your face instead of the rest of your body are winning outfits. If you do live in an area with a cooler climate, wearing a long sleeve top with a pair of jeans ensure that the focus is always on your face instead of your arms and legs.

The fabric that you choose also makes a difference. Fabrics that are flattering will always look better in photos so keep this in mind when choosing your outfit. I love fabric that MOVES. will often ask you to sway with your child and a swishy dress looks AMAZING. I also love to play games during family shoots and casual fabric that move with you rather than restricting your movement. For Dad, I would avoid tight pants that will stop him from being able to sit on the ground comfortably.

Layering also works really well for outdoor photo sessions. Pairing a dress with a cardigan is stylish and casual at the same time. 

A mother and her two boys sitting on the ground outside in Perth, Western Australia
A Perth family walking amongst the white blossoms for a photo shoot
Colours that work outside

I generally suggest wearing light coloured clothing. Most of my shoots are at sunset, and dark clothing sucks in light. I'd avoid all black because you don't see any detail at all, and it can look quite "blobby" with the contrast of the golden light. However in winter or darker days, darker jewel tones can look quite moody.

Bold patterns are not ideal for outdoor shoots so stick to solid colours wherever possible. If you do want to incorporate accessories or patterns, make sure that they’re subtle and fit in with your location. For family photo shoots, solid colours help create uniformity. It’s also important that family members don’t wear colors that clash. 

Some of my favourite clothing stores


Jamie Kay

Auguste The Label

Remember to keep your location as well as your personal style preferences in mind when choosing outfits for your outdoor photo session. At the end of the day, it really is up to you what you want to wear but by following these basic guidelines, you can expect some amazing photos. 

Check out my guide to having your photos printed.

A family walking along the beach swinging their young son at sunset in Perth, Western Australia