Family Photography

What to Wear to a Family Shoot

April 7, 2024

Tropical family photo shoot

Planning for your Hawaii family photo shoot

You’ve booked the family photo session and you know it’s a worthwhile investment, especially because you’re all going to be together in paradise (and you really want to capture those moments!). Maybe it’s snowing where you’re at. You look around at your snow boots and jackets, and all of a sudden you blank out. What do we wear in Hawaii?! Do we all wear white? We don’t have anything tropical! What looks good on a beach? Do we have summer clothes that fit the kids? Do I need to go shopping? What theme do I follow, and how do I get my husband and kids to get with the plan? All of a sudden these choices seem bigger than the first choice you made: booking your photographer!

Don’t worry, these thoughts are all very common. The good news is that you have lots of options! When you book a family shoot with me, I will send you a “Style Guide,” which is a 30+ page magazine-style PDF full of photos of examples, guidance and inspiration that will answer all of your questions.

In the meantime, let me give you a few pointers from my perspective:

  1. Pick something you feel comfortable and confident in, that makes you feel happy and covers up any “problem” areas (but still has definition . . . I’ll talk about the problems with baggy clothes below).
  2. Dress nicely. Dressing up for a family photo shoot gives you an upscale version of your family that you’ll love hanging on your wall. (I’ll capture some classic posed shots as well as candids for you, but either way, intentionally chosen, nicer clothes make the final result much more beautiful),
  3. If you’re going to order clothing, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to return and replace items if needed in case they don’t fit.
  4. Don’t forget the shoes! Hawaii beaches have lava rocks and some rocky areas that may be difficult to walk on barefoot (every beach is different). You don’t need to be too fancy here (high heels are definitely not appropriate on the rocks!), but pick something that up-levels your outfit instead of athletic slides or ratty tennis shoes. We may kick off the shoes during the shoot, but just in case you need them, choose them intentionally.
  5. Lay everyone’s outfits out on a bed before you pack and make sure it all looks good together. Before you run out and do that, read the following tips about picking your clothing:

First of all, think “coordinating” rather than totally matching your clothing. If you’ve always envisioned an all-white family shoot, please don’t let me stop you. But if you want to have some variety (and possibly work with what you already have in your closet), I always recommend that you consider coordinating. This means choosing a color palette for the family members to work within, rather than having them all in one color. It looks great in photos. Color can add interest and life to your photos.

Having a color palette works well and encourages people to coordinate their clothing.  For example, you could choose a neutral like beige, gray, denim or white, plus a brighter accent color such as blue, green, rusty orange, etc .  Then the family members just mix and match what they already have in these colors instead of everyone trying to perfectly match.  Look for coordinating colors that have the “vibe” you’re going for.

Remember, your accent color doesn’t always have to be on the clothing.  The color could come in a necklace, flower behind the ear, flower crown, or lei (Speaking of flowers . . . adding Hawaiian leis can be an amazing addition to add the magic of Hawaii to your family photo shoot!)

The main thing is to avoid conflicting colors that clash or patterns that clash.  You should also avoid T-shirts that have loud graphics or text on them as this is distracting.  Patterns are fine as long as they coordinate and the pattern is larger than a small coin (sometimes smaller patterns or tiny stripes/plaid look strange on a digital camera). 

For mom, I would recommend a flowy dress that is fitted at the top and waist, or some other outfit that has definition (maxi dresses or baggy clothes without fitted areas don’t look very flattering on the beach, especially when the wind blows them – we want to avoid the potato sack look). If you’re self-conscious about your arms, find a dress that covers them up.

Choose something you feel comfortable and confident in. You may find a tropical “Aloha” dress or shirt here in Hawaii that fits with your color palette and you can go with that! (But bring a backup just in case you don’t find the perfect thing).

As I end this post, can I pleeeease just beg you to bring plenty of sunblock on your trip? Nothing will ruin your family photos like terrible sunburns and drastic sunburn lines revealed by an off-the-shoulder dress!

As you plan a shoot with me, feel free to run your outfit choices by me and I can tell you what I think, or answer any other questions you may have. A shoot with me will be relaxed, fun, and may even end up with you wading in the ocean! Regardless, I’ll send you home with some amazing images that capture your family in Hawaii so that together, you can remember paradise forever!

Peace and Light,

Laura 🙂

Laura Pittman Photography

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Capturing beauty and connecting with people brings me joy. A camera lets me do both!

I picked up a camera and the rest is history. I fell in love. The art of photography, the ability to connect with people, and the chance to do what I adore all inspire me. You can feel it when you're with me. Photography has been such a blessing in my life, and I want to pass that blessing on to you.


© laura pittman, 2024