Whether you are choosing outfits for your whole family or just your partner, the steps below will help you coordinate and look great on camera. If you are looking for timeless, classic photos where you (your family, your partner) are the main focus, you have come to the right place!
1. Start with the big picture
Before we start choosing colors, ask yourself where you are going to display your portraits. Will these photos go on the wall in the living room? Over the dining room table? How will the color or style of your outfits look where you display your photos? Another important thing to consider is the location you choose. How will your colors and style blend with the nature or scenery around you? It is important to think about the overall colors of your photoshoot location. For example, if you choose a location with a lot of bright greens and yellows and you dress the family in bold reds, your spring photoshoot has now become Christmas minis! So...take a step back and think about the big picture.
2. Select a color palette
When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting lighter, neutral tones and more muted shades. In my experience, bright, bold or neon colors are distracting and take the focus away from where it should be: you and your family. You can never go wrong with light neutral colors like cream, taupe, camel or light gray. The camera loves shades of soft pinks and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light-colored neutrals. That softer, more pastel-leaning color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments. If you are not sure if your colors will look nice at the location we chose, I HIGHLY recommend using a softer, neutral color palette. You will love the results, I guarantee it.
Let's start off by listing patterns to avoid: loud, distracting patterns, teeny, tiny patterns, logos and graphic prints. All of these will really distract from you and your beautiful faces. However, when used correctly, patterns can add visual interest to your shoot, but not all patterns are created equal. If you do want to incorporate patterns, I recommend choosing just one pattern and then matching the rest of your outfits to that one pattern. Sometimes two or three patterns can also work (depending on the size of your family) and even complement each other. Refer to the images below to see how multiple patterns are used without clashing! If you are unsure if your patterns clash, you can never go wrong with all solid prints.
For all you visual learners out there, enjoy the examples below! Feel free to use these colors or get inspiration to make your own.
3. 'Coordinate' don't 'Match!'
The goal for coordinating family outfits is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom (flashback to family photos where everyone wears blue jeans and white shirts). The more you can mix it up, the better! I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind. A dominant color is the color that you see the most in an outfit, while an accent has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When you’re planning each family member’s outfit, if you can aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors, it will look great all together.
If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit (actually I recommend that you don't!) For example, if one of your daughters wears a dress and flats, the other can wear a skirt and boots, if that’s more of her style. If one of your sons wears a bowtie, the other can wear suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces will bring even more visual interest to the photos.
Follow the steps below for easy outfit coordinating
Step 1: Choose your color palette
Step 2: Pick mom's outfit first
Step 3: Choose outfits for the rest of the family
Step 4: Accessorize! The best way to pull a look together is to incorporate accessories that coordinate with other family members' outfits. For example,
If you’re wearing a blush dress, soft blue earrings and nude heels (blush being your dominant color), then your spouse could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, paired with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (making navy his dominant color).
4. Do not be afraid to wear your dressiest outfits
It might feel funny walking through dried brush and dead leaves in heels, or hiking up a cliff in a sweater vest, but I absolutely promise you that your photos will look incredible! If you are worried about feeling 'overdressed' let's talk. I will convince you (your family) to wear the dress, the tux, the bowtie, the suspenders, and the 5 inch heels.
5. For the girls- Say 'Yes' to the Dress
Dresses and skirts tend to look most stunning on camera because they really flatter the female body. I recommend choosing long, flowy dresses or skirts because they’re flattering on all body types, look amazing on camera. Maxi (or floor length) skirts and dresses will bring extra movement and dimension to your walking photos, and look especially gorgeous when juxtaposed with nature, like the desert, forest, fields or beach. Cute, shorter cocktail-length dresses or midi skirts photograph beautifully as well.
6. Layer it up!
Layers can add dimension and depth and visual interest to your photos. Often times, layers are the difference between good photos and GREAT photos. Layers on men look great on camera; think a v-neck sweater with a pop of color from a long-sleeved collared shirt. For girls, think textured tights or denim jackets. Remember we want our layers to enhance our outfits, not make them bulky. Don’t be afraid to get a little creative with layers!
7. Take a photo with your phone
Once you have chosen your family's outfits, lay them out on your bed or floor and snap a pic with your phone. Does it look the way you want? Is it cohesive? Are the colors complementary? If you need a second opinion, I would love to help! Send the photo to me and I can tell you my professional opinion about how I think it will come across on camera.
8. Final Thoughts and Details
Your style is an extension of your personality! We want photos that represent you and your family.
Choose an outfit that makes you feel unstoppable
If you feel uncomfortable in your outfit, the camera will know! If you are comfortable, you will be more relaxed, look happier, and feel more authentic.
Have your family try on their clothes before the day of the shoot
You'd be surprised.
Text or call me if you need me
I am here for you. I have seen a lot of family outfits...the good, the bad, and the ugly. I would love to help in whatever way I can.
A love note from me:
I realize that the wardrobe recommendations I have given you in this guide lean towards lighter, pastel-ey family photos but that is just my artistic opinion in what looks best on camera. I want you to know that I am so excited to shoot your family and I will happily photograph which ever style and color you show up in.
Your family's style is a representation of you so as long as you love the look you choose, I will too! The most important part of getting timeless, joyful, family photos is being comfortable in what you choose to wear. I would rather you come in sweatpants and sneakers and be comfortable and happy than dressed in an outfit that makes you feel constricted and stiff (even if you think it looks "nicer.") Remember, the camera never lies.