Here in Iowa, it’s nice out just about six months of the year: May to October. After the first of November, the landscape loses all its color and everything turns brown. To quote a fantastic kids book: “Brown, brown, all around you have brown.”
So what’s a gal like me to do between November 1 and May 1? In-home sessions!
Why I love in-home family sessions
Most of my in-home sessions are newborns, but I occasionally have the pleasure of doing an in-home session for a family. They’re fantastic because:
- They’re more relaxed. The chill vibe of an in-home session lends itself well to loving on your kiddos and partner, which is totally my jam.
- They’re intimate. A session in your home reveals a multitude of little details about you and your family that only adds to your photographs. Maybe it’s the artwork on your walls, perhaps it’s the board games you play when you’re together… all of it fills in the blanks of your story in a way that outdoor sessions in a neutral space just cannot.
- Kids are more comfortable in their own space, and it comes through in the photos. (The flipside of this “pro” is that kiddos are more likely to act out, on average, at home.)
My goal in every session is to tell your family’s story, to show the connections between you, and to capture a moment in time. Yes, this totally happens with outdoor photos too, but there’s just no contest when it comes to storytelling inside your home.
Why can’t we wear the same thing we’d wear for an outdoor session?
For an in-home session, you certainly CAN dress as you would for the outdoors… but it potentially won’t “fit” with the setting.
In a nature-y outdoor space, like a park or nature preserve, you can pull off lots of styles: a maxi dress, barefoot kids in boho overalls, near-naked babies… or you can lean a little more fancy: preppy pullovers, puffer vests, hats. Urban spaces are a little more limiting.
Check out this photo from the lovely Becca Jean Photography:
Now imagine those same boho-inspired outfits in this location:
See what I mean? Mixing the two would be really wonky.
The outfits in Image #1 are perfect for that rustic setting, while the outfits in Image #2 are perfect for an urban setting. The clothes need to match the setting, and when they don’t, things just feel OFF.
So what should you wear for an in-home photo session?
When you’re at home, you wear what’s comfortable, right?
That’s what you should be thinking about when you pick wardrobe for your in-home session, too. Think comfortable with a bit of upscale woven in.
What Dad should wear for an in-home session
For the top half, good options are a T-shirt, henley, or a LOOSE-FITTING button-down.
Lots of great colors are available in all three of these, but stick to neutrals: gray, white, tan… or get a bit more adventurous with denim blue, olive, heathered plum… just stay away from the bright greens, yellows, reds. When Dad’s shoulders are the broadest in the family, putting the boldest color on him can be off-balance.
Pro tip: My husband loves this brand of tees, polos, and henleys. It’s magical sorcery or something, but these men’s shirts are PERFECT for the Dad Bod. My not-a-bodybuilder husband looks muscular and FIT in everything of theirs. Mee-ow!
Nothing makes a fella look uncomfortable more than too-tight clothing, and button-downs can be ill-fitting based on the broadness of your guy’s shoulders and chest. So unless you’re certain that it’s a LOOSE fit, just skip the button-down altogether.
Sock feet or bare feet are good for Dad.
What Mom should wear for an in-home session
I like layers, with the underlayer slightly more fitted (but not tight!) and the top layer loose, textured, and drapey.
My idea of the perfect combo is a pair of comfortable jeans plus a layering tee + cardigan, or a chunky knit sweater or cropped button-front cardigan. Feet in socks or go barefoot.
Chunky knit sweater / Wrap cardigan / SS waffle knit top
I adore Alex Morris Design; she does amazing work and styles her in-home clients sooooo perfectly. Check ’em out for some inspiration.
What toddlers/kids should wear for an in-home session
I’m sounding like a broken record here, but comfort is key.
For boys, jeans are a great choice, or if you have one of those “no hard pants” kiddos (like mine), a not-obnoxious pair of joggers or shorts.
For boys or girls, tees in solid colors or subtle patterns (avoid logos and words), henleys, polos, whatever they’re comfortable in.
Little girls can pull off dresses and still be super comfy and right at home. Stick with longer dresses or get a pair of matching bloomers to go underneath if you want a shorter skirt, or leggings. Tights aren’t ideal since she won’t be wearing shoes. A tunic + leggings is another good pick for girls.
Solid colors in soft tones are best: white and off-white, blush, oatmeal… you can also do a subtle print in a small scale (meaning the items in the print aren’t big, they’re small and inconspicuous and not packed in).
Sock or bare feet allllll the way.
What about teens?
Follow the same rules as for adults. Let your teens pick a few options from their closet (within reason), and choose from those. Give them autonomy in what they wear if you can; it helps start the session out on the right foot, especially if your teen isn’t keen on photos.
What babies should wear for an in-home session
Babies not yet on the move can stick with a solid-color onesie or two-piece outfit. If you can get a top that has a bodysuit style, that’s ideal so we don’t have to worry about peek-a-boo diapers!
- Be comfortable
- Choose clothes that aren’t too far off from what you’d normally wear if you were having company at home and wanted to look nice-ish
- Be comfortable
- Oh yeah did I mention, be comfortable? 🙂
In-home sessions are pretty great, and if you’ve never considered one, you should! Your home doesn’t need to be straight out of Better Homes & Gardens; all we need is some natural light and an open area near that source of light. Ta da!
Ready to book your in-home session for family or a newborn?
P.S.—I want to share a blog post from my friend Virginia Schultz that’s all about Things to do in Tuscaloosa with Kids… it may not be specific to Iowa, but it’s great for inspiration!
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links (affiliate details here).
This is such a thorough post! Nice job putting together a comprehensive list of what to wear for in home family sessions. Sometimes that’s the hardest part of a photography session!
What to wear is definitely one of the hardest steps in planning photos! Clients love it so much when we guide them and tell them what to wear. And mega bonus for us as photographers, when we style them our images are instantly elevated and become cohesive, contributing to an elevated brand. My husband also loves that brand of men’s shirts, btw!
I’ll throw this out there too, a service I love for styling clients is Style and Select. They make is super simple to help families coordinate outfits!
There are so many amazing tips in here on what to wear for in-home family photos. I love how you style families for indoor vs outdoor, it truly is a different type of vibe. I’m buying some of those shirts your husband loves because my husband gets so annoyed when I try to dress him specifically for photos, hah! Thanks for the tips.
You’ve provided so many helpful tips for how to style the family for in-home sessions. Everyone I talk to struggles with styling their family for photos. There are so many great links here to help families shop! I’m going to have to check out those Polo’s for my hubby! I’m always on the hunt for some nice neutral options for him.
I love that you touched on how different locations call for a different style of outfits! I feel like that is something that gets looked over often. I love those henley shirts you linked for dads – they’re timeless and will never go out of style!
I love al the advice here on what to wear. Seems like that’s always a challenge especially for photo sessions.