What to Wear for Family Photos | Kara Chappell Photography | Summer Style Tips

Summer is (finally!) here in the PNW, and the weather is PERFECT for family pictures on Whidbey Island. Don’t know what to wear? I got you boo!

Drumroll Please…

Welcome to my new seasonal styling tips! I’ll be sharing palettes and pieces I love and recommend to my clients throughout the year. I want to help you visualize a stunning wardrobe that will take your family photo session to the next level.

Family pictures don’t need to be formal or stuffy, but hey - if you’re spending the money and taking the time to work with me, I’m here to make SURE you look your best!

(p.s. I have an online styling service that lets you shop for the perfect wardrobe from your couch! More on that later…)

Where to Start

The light is abundant during the summer months (hello 17 hours of sunshine per day!), so I recommend outfits that compliment the rich yellow golden hour hues and the gorgeous pastel skies on display during each Whidbey Island sunset.

When it comes to selecting the perfect (photographer-approved!) outfits, I recommend the following palette to all my clients booking a summer family photo session on Whidbey Island:

  • Look for solid-colored pieces in blush pink, rose/mauve, olive green, shades of denim, and pops of goldenrod yellow

  • Add neutrals as needed (white, cream, light grey)

  • Keep patterns small and minimal (no more than two outfits with pattern)

  • Look for texture and movement in clothing (organic cotton, muslin, linen, full skirts, ruffled sleeves)

  • Plan accordingly for the weather (which sometimes means adding a small layer for sunset)

  • Accessorize with delicate jewelry pieces, long flowing hair for mama, curls/piggies/buns for babes, strappy sandals

Serving Some Serious Summer Mood (Board)

Here’s a sample summer wardrobe for a family with mom and dad, an 8-10 year old girl, a 4-7 year old boy, and a baby/toddler girl:


Let’s Break It Down

  1. Mama - I always want all eyes on YOU mom (sorry/not sorry). I want your outfit to be the statement piece, and for summer the perfect wrap dress with a full, flowing skirt is going to fit multiple body types and look stunning no matter the location. Not feeling a dress? Try a stylish jumper instead (I did for our recent fam pictures!). Accessorize with a delicate gold necklace or bangles, and throw on leather sandals or fun wedges to complete your look. BONUS: This dress is actually a new addition in my styling closet! It’s gorgeous, works for blonds or brunettes, and adds a little fun with a small polka dot pattern. Plus - it’s free for clients to rent! Want to try it on? Call me!

  2. Dad - Dad needs to stay cool and avoid turning into the sweat-monster during your session. Try a short-sleeved linen or henley top, or a shirt that looks good with rolled sleeves. I prefer a light chino pant, but if shorts are requested - just say no to cargo (shorts)! No one needs that many pockets, am I right?! Brown sandals or boat shoes (no socks) complete the look. Easy peezy!

  3. Big Sister - If mom is in a dress, try a different route with your older daughter, like an adorable jumpsuit with details in the sleeves, or a fun top and denim shirt. I also have a ton of adorable girls’ clothes in my styling closet that your daughter is more than welcome to borrow for free! Again - call me friend! ;)

  4. Little Bro - Try to avoid polos or shirts with logos or large words/sayings. Stripes or a small fun pattern (think dinosaurs or rocket ships) adds detail without taking focus away. Button-up shirts or soft tees are great - just try to avoid looking like your little man is going to a formal event. Boys can definitely wear shorts with minimal pockets. And hey - if you can get your little guy in a bowtie or suspenders - then I will try to control my happy dance and act cool! (I also have suspenders in my styling closet - just sayin’.)

  5. Baby Sis - Baby rompers for the win! I love having those adorable, chunky baby thighs exposed in all their delicious glory. (I don’t have baby fever - you have baby fever!). Since baby’s outfit is the smallest, avoid patterns when possible. Try to find an organic cotton or muslin - the more texture the better. And ruffles on the sleeve (and the bum!) add the perfect amount of detail. Shoes aren’t necessary for non-walkers, but a velvet bow headband in a complimentary color is a dainty touch.

Need a Personal Stylist?

My mission is to make taking family pictures an easy and fun process for your WHOLE family. I want you to look your best and walk away with GORGEOUS images to remember this chapter in your family’s story.

Which is why I am SO excited to announce my personal online styling service.

Free to all of my clients, it’s easy to use and saves you time and money (no more drives over the bridge for you!). Just select the number of people in your family, a few colors you love, an overall vibe, and… VOILA! You will be served 20-30 options PER PERSON that you can view for inspiration or shop for directly online with one click.

The outfits will coordinate, are all reasonably priced, and best of all - are PHOTOGRAPHER APPROVED!!! There’s no pressure to buy, but it’s a great place to start. I also have a styling closet with around 50 pieces for girls ages 2-8, and women sizes 2-8/10 that are free to borrow for your session. I will also send you ideas that I have as well, and I can even come to your house to help you put your final wardrobe together and bring you a white mocha (because everyone deserves more happiness in their lives!).

It couldn’t be easier.

Summer Isn’t Over Yet

What are you waiting for? Book your summer family photo session before all my Whidbey Island spots are filled! Summer weather lasts through September on Whidbey Island, but I personally LOVE August for the perfect summertime PNW photo session.

Up for an adventure? I’m down for a destination shoot on Mt. Baker, Diablo Lake, Hurricane Ridge, or Ruby Beach if you really want to take your pictures to the next level. I’ll also be in Seabrook, Washington August 12-15, and am available for limited family beach sessions. Call me friend!