Planning Outfits for Your Family Photo Session

‘Tis the season – family portrait season! Fall seems to be the season when everyone has family photos on their minds, and for a good reason. The busyness of summer is winding down, school is back in session, leaves are turning their lovely shades, and we’re all scrambling to get Holiday gifts and cards done before time runs out! 

We also understand that planning and coordinating outfits for each family member can feel pretty daunting. But you know what makes that whole process easier? When you have help from a pro – that’s where we come in! Today, we’re giving you 5 simple tips for pulling together beautiful family photo outfits that look like a professional stylist has put them together! You’ve got this!

Family poses for photos in Ligonier PA

Tip 1: Start with what you know you like.

Begin with this question: How do you decorate your home? What colors do you use? The colors you prefer and the style you gravitate toward indicate what you will like long-term. If your home is casual and decorated with neutral colors, you are more likely to enjoy photos that stay within that theme. Similarly, if you prefer a lot of fun colors – don’t stick to neutral-colored clothing choices. Furthermore, if your photos match your home, you’re more likely to hang them on the wall! Win-win.

Family photos in Asbury Park

Tip 2: Pick one outfit you love

This is important because it gives your mind an anchor point. Rather than trying to find 5 outfits all at once, it feels more manageable to choose one first and move on from there. We tend to suggest this be mom’s outfit, but it doesn’t have to be. That is because moms always feel better about photos when they feel great about how they look! But, even if it’s not mom’s outfit, choose one look that is non-negotiable and start there. Have a dress you look stellar in? Wear it. Saw this to-die-for sweater for your 4-year-old at Baby Gap? Perfect. Decide on the first outfit, and the rest will easily fall into place. 

Mother, Father and baby walk across bridge at Frontier Park in Erie, PA

Tip 3: Build in layers

Once you’ve decided on your color scheme, and built your first non-negotiable outfit, begin to add in layers. Start with neutrals, carefully adding colors that fit your already-chosen color scheme. Denim, gray, khaki, cream, black, and even navy make great neutrals. Feel free to mix and match neutrals as well, so not everyone is wearing the same color pants, for example. Use 2-3 neutrals and add your layers of color. Stick with the colors in your color palette to build outfits from there. Layering also refers to clothing and not just colors. Multiple layers of clothing look better than one layer. Try using clothing items like vests, denim jackets, hats, scarves, skirts, tights, boots, etc. All of these items can layer with one another and add interest to your images.

Mother and daughters pose together for mom's 60th birthday cake smash in North East, PA

Tip 4: Add a pop of color

Don’t be afraid to add a pop of color somewhere! Maybe it’s a scarf or fun shoes. Perhaps dad’s shirt collar is a fun color, or baby’s dress is bright yellow. A pop of color makes your photos interesting, so not everyone looks the same. If you add a pop, try adding it in small doses and in more than one place. You don’t want dad’s shirt to be the only pink thing you see because it will draw your eyes only to that shirt. So try adding a pink necklace for mom or a hairbow on your daughter to keep it small yet ties elements together. A good rule of thumb is to have 2-3 neutrals (i.e., tan, cream, or black), 2-3 base colors (i.e., navy, green, plum, etc.), and one pop color (i.e., pink or yellow). If you prefer a more neutral color palette, your pop of color could be a slightly less neutral tone, like dark purple, blush, or even black, for a group mainly wearing light-colored neutrals.

Family walks on the beach at Presque Isle State Park during portrait session

Tip 5: Plan ahead so you can relax

Planning and preparation is the key to any successful photo shoot. Our final tip for great family photos outfits: Complete your wardrobe plans at least a week in advance. That way, if you need to grab any last-minute items, you aren’t panicked the day of the shoot. Or, if some items need professional cleaning, you have time to get it done comfortably. Also, lay all your outfits on the floor or a bed to see how they all look together. Maybe something seemed great in your head, but when it’s all pulled together, that shirt for your 10-year-old just doesn’t look right. It’s important to know this ahead of time.

What you wear in your family portraits can make a huge difference in how you and your family feel the day of the session. If the style you have in mind isn’t a style another member of your family shares, have some flexibility. Choose outfits in which your family members will feel most relaxed. Choose comfortable, timeless pieces that feel like you. Because the more you feel like you, the more you’ll look like you, and that produces images you will love for years.

Mother, father and toddler look at new baby for family photos at Frontier Park

Ready for that Portrait Session?

Matt Mead Photography is always honored to preserve your family’s memories, and we are committed to creating a fun and professional experience. So let’s do this thing! Let’s get those family photos marked off your holiday to-do list!! Send us a message and start the process of scheduling your session. We can’t wait to see you and your family this season! 

Check out Tips for Great Family Portraits for more info on getting ready for your family portraits session!