The Ultimate Guide To Styling Your Family Photography Session

Tips + Tricks for Photogs

Ok let’s chat!  You booked your session with me, now what!?  I got you babe!  Upon booking your session with me, you will be sent an email with a link to a Styling platform that will help you style your session. I use a platform called Style & Select which curates a gallery of clothing based on certain color choices and styles. It is an amazing tool for anyone to use whether you are a family, high school senior, branding photos or maternity! Along with the styling platform, here are some helpful tips to keep in mind when coordinating your family’s outfits.

1. Coordinate, don’t match!

Ok, so gone are the days when everyone would wear matching t-shirts and jeans! NO NO NO! When planning your outfits, keep in mind that you want to coordinate, not match.  I often recommend Mom finds her outfit first and then coordinate the rest of the family around that color scheme. Choose 2-3 colors that compliment mom’s outfit, so some neutrals and a pop of color to bring everything together.

2. Color Tones Matter

Earth tones always photograph nicely year round. I love bold colors and earth tones. Bold colors such as burnt orange, mustard yellow, dark green, terracotta red. For earth tones, I love blush, ivory, sage green, khaki, ivory, dusty blue, terracotta and some warm greys. Mixing this color tones are totally fine. For example, mom wears a ivory colored dress, dad or kids wear mustard or orange. Color gives your photos a pop so do not be afraid to add color!

color tone palette

3. Textures & Prints

I LOVE when families choose clothing that has texture.  It could be a lace dress, detailing on a shirt/pants, tweed, chambray, faux fur and wool.  Prints are okay as long as they are not fine stripes.  Stripes can photograph strange if they are close together and often make you look bigger than you really are.  Choose one bold pattern and then coordinate the rest with smaller patterns or solids.  Prints that I love are plaid, floral, and gingham.

4. Long & Midi Length Dresses for the Ladies!

For moms, these are incredibly flattering and can hide all your self conscious spots.  They provide a lot of movement which is great for all those running around, playing with your kid shots. If you aren’t comfortable in a dress, a skirt/top combo is another option and a little dressy than your everyday look. Opt for high quality fabrics such as silk or linen as they hand better.

5. Consider the Season

If its summer, choose cool clothing choices so you aren’t sweating and uncomfortable.  Long dresses, short sleeves and sandals. Please no flip flops.  For winter you can layer with a sweater or cardigan. Ankle boots are perfect as the grasses get longer and sometimes it can be wet. Wearing boots will keep your feet dry and warm.

6. Guys, you matter too!

For the guys, unless you are getting married, please put the suits away! Wear something that you can move around in easily — if you have young children, you probably will be chasing after them, playing games and running around. Wear clothing that is comfortable, but looks nice. Jeans are okay but I do love colored pants in any neutral color or light earth tone color. Button downs, henley and even good quality t-shirts look nice. Again, dress with comfort in mind.

7. It’s All About the ACCESSORIES!

Accessories are such a great way to add texture and fun to your sessions. Laying is a great way to spice things up.  Think chunky cardigans, scarves, beanies, fun, eclectic jewelry, jean jackets and HATS! Hats are a favorite of mine. I love a good, wide brimmed hat but if you wear beanies, throw that on or even baseball hats on kids look adorable. Again, keep in mind that these photos are all about YOU so add different elements to your clothing that are fun and a reflection of your family.

8. Young Girls & Boys

There are so many great companies out there with really cute toddler and girl clothing.  I love Rylee + Crue, Noralee, H&M, Zara, Gap, JCrew, Rylee and Cru, Nordstrom, Boden, Janie & Jack and Target.  Those are just a few.  Most of these stores have great clothing selections starting at Newborn up to the Teenage years.  For toddlers, young boys and teenagers, dress them as you would for a nice event.  No holes or patches on the jeans.  For their pants, think earth tones so light khaki, dark brown, light brown and sage.  All those colors photograph nicely with the tones outdoors in the Bay Area.  Please no logos on shirts.  Keep them simple, collared button downs or henleys are an easy go-to.  

9. Don’t Forget Shoes!

Shoes are incredibly important when pulling your outfit together. When choosing your shoes, think about the location for your session. If we are hiking in the hills or Redwoods, high heeled stilettos aren’t necessarily that practical. Wedges or strappy sandals are a great alternative. Target has a lot of trendy shoe options for moms, dads and kids. Please avoid athletic sneakers and bright white shoes. For kids, no shoes with cartoon characters on them.

10. Have Fun!

Keeping all this mind, be yourself! Take this opportunity to purchase a new outfit or pair of shoes to spice things up! If your style is carhart beanies, ripped jeans and band t-shirts, BE YOU and wear those things! There is no right or wrong here. I want your photos to reflect you so if you don’t life flowing dresses, then wear what is a reflection of your family!

PLEASE AVOID…

  1. Black shirts, leggings or jeans. Black can often photograph very dark and tends to make everything blend in.
  2. Oversized shirts or dresses. Fitted dresses and shirts will make you look lean and accentuate your curves.
  3. Saturated Colors. Bright red for example will create color cast/skin tone issues.
  4. Thin Stripes. Very thin stripes have a tendency to mush into each other and cause something all the moiré effect. It reminds me of seeing a spinning black and white wheel where everything becomes one.
  5. Athletic Sneakers. Please do your best to avoid nikes or any athletic shoe. Those are for the gym only… or if you’re a mom running around town:)

Well, that was a lot! I understand it can be overwhelming to plan photos for your family but it’s worth it to put the time into planning so you LOVE your photos. I am here to help with whatever you may need and I do always recommend clients send me photos of their outfits laid out so I can make any tweaks.

If you are ready to book your family photo session with me, please reach out! Click here to BOOK NOW!

Check out some other family sessions below:

Motherhood Wildflower Session

Summer Family Session

 Check out my location guide for the best family photo spots in the Bay Area!

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