Outdoor family photo sessions take place in lush green parks and picturesque lakes across the Lower Mainland. Outside, families are free to explore, laugh and play together. Young kids tend to smile more and avoid my lens less when distracted by ducks, geese and butterflies. The potential is great for beautiful candid shots full of happy kids and relaxed grownups. A day or two before the photo session, panicking moms phone me up to ask: “What should we wear?”

Tip: Go through family closets and choose outfits a week before your outdoor family photo session to avoid the last-minute stress of trying to clothe you, your spouse and your kids.

Cream with a touch of orange stripes? Grey and denim with a splash of red? What about this green scarf? Ultimately it comes down to wearing colours with solids or subtle patterns that reflect your personality. First, and most importantly, I encourage each client to wear what represents you. What do you wear when you’re not having your picture taken? Would that be a better choice than something you’d never put on to go out and play with your kids? When you look back, don’t you want to remember the outfit that reflected your personality, not your discomfort? Wear what speaks to you. Dress your kids in outfits that reflect their personalities.

Beyond wearing something that reflects you, the most critical tip of this post is: wear something comfortable. Mothers are especially self-conscious of their bellies. Dads want to match. Grandparents want grandkids to wear ill-fitting dresses or bolero ties, bought for everyone back home during a recent getaway to San Antonio, Texas. And Moms and Dads everywhere hate double chins. While I don’t Photoshop chins and necks, I do suggest that you wear something comfortable. Put on an outfit that fits well. I know you have one good outfit that makes you feel wonderful. Put it on. If it includes your favourite pair of heels, bring flats too. When you feel good about yourself, you look even better on camera. As for your kids? Dress them in comfortable clothes that are soft and made for outdoor playtime.

Remember: this is about capturing (and someday reminiscing) a special time together with your kids and, perhaps, your entire family, not about minimizing the looks of aging, double chins or bellies. Take a deep breath, set aside distracting body issues and aim to enjoy the moment.

Whatever you do, don’t match. Rather than taking on the look of a planned outdoor family photo session, I want my subjects to look like they’re having a good time together at the park. Stripes-for-all isn’t the best way to show how well you enjoy each other’s company. Instead, try to coordinate from a simple colour palette with brightly coloured accessories. I like the look of neutral-coloured outfits with pops of bright colours, such as a scarf, a hat or a bright pair of canvas runners. Some families may go so far as to choose a colour palette of neutral tones, such as blue or cream-coloured tops, grey sweaters and denim jeans. Then they’ll accessorize with something bright for Mom or Dad and something fun for the kids, such as a favourite toy.

Tip: Busy patterns tend to look adorable in person and too distracting in photographs. Avoid busy patterns, such as plaids, houndstooth or any other bold texture—unless it’s on an accessory.

Tip: Blues, greys, purples and navy colours provide a favourable contrast to summertime foliage. Reds, oranges, yellows and greens compete with spring, summer and fall foliage.

See what families have worn during their outdoor family photo sessions with me. If you have questions prior to your outdoor photo appointment, please call me or reach out on Facebook.