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  • Valerie Kay || Las Vegas Family Photographer

What to Wear and How to Prepare - Family Portrait Sessions || Las Vegas Family Photographer

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Valerie Kay Photography Las Vegas family photographer and traveling family photographer providing quality memories of both gorgeous smiles and cherished fun-filled candid moments.

Great! You've booked your photographer for some updated portraits of the family! Yay! Now you're thinking... What are we going to wear? You might even be a little stressed about this perceivably daunting task. You are not alone! I even struggle dressing my own family and I've been a family photographer for years. So, here are some helpful hints for figuring out what your family should wear and also some tips on how to prepare!

Don't match, Coordinate!

Okay, so maybe you've had an idea to just put everyone in denim jeans and solid white shirts? That matches right? It does, but it doesn't create any visual interest. That is my own family a couple years ago. It looks okay, maybe, but like I said, there isn't much visual interest. When people view the photo, their eye will go directly to what you're wearing instead of your beautiful faces first.

I always recommend starting with picking your colors. I typically say three colors; one neutral, one bold, and one accent color. A great example would be navy, burgundy, and mustard yellow. Another would be gray, red, and white. You can definitely add in another color or two if it coordinates well. Here's what else is great, you can also use variations of these colors too. Different shades of gray work together very well, or various shades of blue as seen here:

Look how great everyone looks!

Solids, Prints, and Textures

I am loving this family's coordination. Mom and baby are in solids, with different variations of the blues, while dad is in a very nice plaid print that are colors that coordinate well with mom and baby. I always recommend getting a little bit of print in to break it up, but not too much to where it seems busy. The use of a few different textures is great, too. Denim, khaki, maybe some tule from a tutu skirt all bring visual interest to your image. One more thing... no neon colors. They have a glowing effect that cause some nasty color casts that are very difficult to balance in post processing. Accessories!

Accessories are a great way to dress up your family. Scarves in the fall are the perfect example and are amazing! Also, some nice jewelry (long necklaces are very lovely) or a beautiful headband, tie, suspenders for the kids are great. Hats can be great too! I don't recommend baseball caps but a stylish hat like a fedora or a nice flat cap looks great in photos. If it fits your personality, add it in!


You want to make sure you're comfortable in whatever you're wearing because it does translate into your portrait if you're uncomfortable. Layers are always a great idea, that way you can take off if it ends up too warm, or add if it's too cold. Here in Las Vegas, you can pretty much count on the weather forecast, so it's easier here to plan.

For my clients in Colorado Springs, we all know too well how unpredictable the weather can be, so planning accordingly with layers will be beneficial in Colorado.

(One of my favorite photos, so sweet!)

Helpful Tips to be Prepared

Happy Kiddos

Make sure they are fed and napped. Typically photo sessions take place in the late afternoon or early evening for best light. Start early in the day managing a routine that would work for them best, if it means an earlier nap or a later snack, you get it..

It's been my experience that letting them nap in the car on the way to the session is not the best idea. They don't seem to respond well to just waking up and jumping right into taking pictures. I'd personally recommend letting them take their nap earlier and then talking to them about taking photos and what to expect on the drive.

Bring a favorite toy

One that makes noise for me to use to get their attention or one they love talking about so I can have a conversation to get to know them .

Lay out all the expectations

Do this ahead of time and up front and then get them excited for a reward for good behavior after the session. I know this works well for my kiddos. "Hey guys, we are planning to spend an hour outside having fun and taking pictures, I'd love to get a few together and also by yourself and then we will get ice cream on the way home." Or, whatever works best for your family.


Meeting a new person (me) outside in a strange place is probably something you don't do very often. Kids can get really thrown off in new situations so I try my best to make it as fun as possible. Ahead of time, I will ask their favorite things and then use that to try to interest them at their session. Also, I like to focus on more candid photos so I will just ask them to do their favorite things and that almost always gets them to warm up.

However, this will sometimes not work with some kiddos and that's okay! If they are particularly hesitant of me or just a very rambunctious three-year-old, it is totally normal for them to not want to participate or cooperate. It's so important to be understanding and patient during this time. They will sense if you are getting very upset or stressed during this time and it definitely does not help. Try very hard to avoid this.


It's best to plan out your entire day ahead of time and manage your time well. If you don't, it's possible to lose track of time and end up late to your session. This is typically a problem because we've scheduled your session for best light and any time that you may be late will take away from that gorgeous light. Also, being late will start your session stressed out and we really don't want that.

The Great Outdoors

All of my sessions typically take place outdoors. I absolutely love capturing nature's beauty in gorgeous natural light. With that, it's important to remember that it is outside. There is going to be dirt, sometimes cactus, and we are always cautious of wildlife. Being prepared and also dressing for this is important. High heels might make it difficult to walk on dirt and gravel or having open toe shoes can leave you or your kiddos vulnerable to scratches or cuts. You can still wear these clothing options, of course, just wanting to keep these things in mind.


Sometimes it will be windy and that's okay! Movement from wind makes for great photos. However, fly-aways can be a pain. I always recommend bringing a weightless hair oil, serum, or some anti-frizz product that you can just put a small dab on your hands and smooth out your hair (and the kiddos too). I love agave hair oil but any product you love will be great.

While my style is both posed and candid, I really just want everyone to have fun the whole time. We will spend one minute on getting everyone to look at the camera for a posed shot, but after that, it's all about the interaction and real emotions. I encourage dads to be ready to participate! I'm going to ask you for your best dad joke, maybe some fun tossing your kiddo up in the air, piggy back rides and so much more fun! Not just dads though, too, everyone should be ready for running, jumping, and playing! Give your kiddo a squeeze, or hubby a smooch, just act like no one is watching :) Thank you so much for reading and I hope you learned a few helpful tips! Any questions or you want to book your family portrait session, please feel free to shoot me an email or you can click here.

Valerie Kay Photography || Las Vegas Family Photographer

Internationally Published Photographer ~ Recognized as Best Fine Art Photographer of Las Vegas by Peerspace ~ Best of the Best Photographer by Summerana Magazine 2019 + 2021 ~ Best Fine Art Photographer of Las Vegas by Giggster ~ Top Portrait Photographer in Las Vegas and Colorado Springs by Expertise in 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021 + 2022 ~ ~ Fab Photographer of Las Vegas by Hulafrog in 2019, 2020, 2021 + 2022

©Valerie K Photography
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