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What to Wear for Family Pictures Outside For Perfect Holiday Photos


Loads of makeup, fussy kids, everyone dolled up and a rush out the door. It must be time to get gussied up for those family pictures!

Last year, I could barely be bothered; I was exhausted with a newborn so we opted for these family Christmas PJs photos for our holiday card.

So this year, it was time to take it up a notch and get dressed up and do the darn thing! 

We’ve done a lot of our Christmas family photo sessions at home and, quite frankly, avoided the whole trek-to-the-desert thing. But it is Arizona, and it is lovely. So this year, we went for it! 

Yeah, it was a pain. It always is when you’ve got toddlers in the house. But I’m so glad we did it!

If you’ve got an upcoming holiday session and are wondering what the heck to wear for family pictures outside, this guide is for you.

What to Wear for Family Pictures Outside

What to wear for family pictures outside | family of 4 standing in Arizona desert for family photos, woman in gold sequin skirt | lifewithmar.com

Consider Your Surroundings

There’s a lot of flexibility when you’re shooting indoors or in your home, but when you’re out in nature you should really take your surroundings into consideration. 

I wouldn’t select a pink/orangey dress, for example, that may clash with Sedona’s red rocks.

Try to think of colors that are complementary, provide contrast or (at least) don’t clash with your surroundings. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t have fun—I love the idea of ballgowns in unexpected places! If that’s your style, go for it. Just be conscious of colors to avoid clashing. 

Still not sure what to wear for family pictures outside? Stick to neutrals, that’s always a lovely look.

What to wear for family pictures outside | couple standing in desert, woman in gold sequin skirt | lifewithmar.com

Pants | Skirt | Top

Dress Yourself First

Moms by all means, pick your outfit out first!

It doesn’t matter if you have no idea where to start when thinking about what to wear for family pictures outside, what you need to do is start with yourself.

Once you have your outfit picked out, everyone else’s can be chosen. This includes picking your theme or color scheme. 

If you’re struggling with your closet, consider something like Rent the Runway.

That’s where I got this gold sequin skirt I’m wearing in these photos.

I highly, highly recommend giving it a go so you’ll be in something fun, new and holiday-ish! 

Rent the Runway also lets you pick a backup size, so you don’t have to worry about something not fitting.

What to wear for family pictures outside | family photos in Arizona desert

Decide on a Color Scheme

Now that you have your outfit picked out, it’s time to consider everyone else! 

The easiest way to find a cohesive look is to decide on a color scheme. This doesn’t mean matchy-matchy looks, that whole “everyone wears a white T-shirt thing” is so cheesy and so 90s. 

What this means is picking colors that work well together. 

My friend Amanda, who owns Amanda Capello Photography and shot our photos this year, also recommends staying away from prints that are too busy. Otherwise, it’s just too distracting! 

I’m a huge fan of Pinterest for finding color inspiration, you can even follow my family photo board here for loads of ideas.

Searching Pinterest and Google images for wedding color schemes is another great way to get inspired and find loads of new ideas.

What to wear for family pictures outside | toddler standing in desert | lifewithmar.com

Visualize Your Outfits

This part is so important when you’re trying to figure out what to wear for family pictures outside!

If you can, I recommend laying your outfits out flat so you can get an idea of what they’ll look like together.

If you don’t want to do this step, or maybe don’t have all your outfits yet, you can also create a mood board on a free app like Canva.

Simply pop in the photos and you can easily remove the background and see what they all look like together.

This is a bit of a geeky step I suppose, but it really, really helps to see what’s working and what’s not!

Plus, if you’re trying to decide between one shirt or another, you can create multiple graphics to see what you like the best! (If you want a tutorial on this, let me know)

What to wear for family pictures outside | toddler girl in desert wearing pink dress | lifewithmar.com

Dress | Headband

Lower Your Expectations

It’s family photos with kids, and when you’ve got toddlers and babies running amok, it’s O.K to lower your expectations a bit.

You may not get a photo where everyone is smiling looking dead-on at the camera but that’s totally fine! The natural shots are more beautiful anyway, IMO. As your family is being captured how they really are.

If you book with a great family photographer who knows how to capture children, you won’t really know how to worry about this anyway. That’s another reason it’s so important to shoot with someone who is experienced in this.

What to wear for family pictures outside | siblings sitting outside for family photos in desert | lifewithmar.com

Order Your Cards Quickly

I always order our holiday cards through Minted, I love the quality and the selection!

They can be pricey, so I tend to take advantage by ordering on Black Friday/Cyber Monday or paying attention to sales.

Even if you don’t know exactly what to put on the card, or if you don’t have all your addresses yet, you can pay for your cards to save the deal you’re after and finalize it later! All you have to do is select free professional proofing and then you just edit before selecting final approval.

More Family Christmas Cards & Outfits

Our 2017 Holiday Card in Family Christmas PJs

Our 2016 Holiday Card in a Red Plaid Christmas Skirt

Spread the love!

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  1. Beautiful photos & family! I’m exploring outfit inspo for our family photos this year and found your page! Love it! Can you share this location?! I love the mix of cactus and rocks! Definitely looks like its somewhere outside the valley!

  2. These are some of the most breathtaking family photos I’ve ever seen! you all look like a fairytale. Wonderful job with the outfits and location!

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