Thursday, October 22, 2015

How to Plan Outfits for Professional Family Portraits

Tis the season for all things fall… apple picking, pumpkin patching, and football watching.  Fall also happens to be my favorite time of year to have family portraits made since we like to send out Christmas cards every year.  Not to mention the weather is typically sunny and cool, everyone is extra snuggly, and Mother Nature provides the perfect backdrop of reds, oranges, yellows and greens that result in gorgeous pictures. 

One of my favorite things to do is to plan the outfits that each person will wear for the photo shoot.  This can be a daunting task, especially when you’re planning for larger families, but I am about to provide a few tips to make it a little less stressful. 

Pick a Color Scheme 

This is probably the hardest part of all since there are so many colors and combinations of colors.  In recent years, I’ve been working to change our colors so we have something fresh and different each year.  Some examples for color schemes are as follows: 

Denim and white  

Black and white 

Neutrals – creams, browns, blacks, and greys 

Complementary colors – these are colors that are opposite of each other on the color wheel.  For example, red and green, purple and yellow, or pink and lime. 

Analogous colors – these are colors that are next to each other on the color wheel.  For example, aqua, green, and lime or red, pink, and purple. 

This year, I chose complementary colors for our portraits because I wanted them to be colorful.  The winning colors?  Mustard and aqua. 

Find One Inspirational Piece to Create a Focal Point 

The items I choose to be the focal point are typically some kind of pattern (plaids, polka dots, etc.) and then I build everyone else’s outfits around that one. 

Last year it was my red and black buffalo plaid shirt, and this year it is Jacob’s mustard and aqua plaid shirt and vest.  The second I saw this rugged, outdoorsy combination hanging in Carter’s, I knew it was exactly what I wanted for our pictures this year. 

Choose a Solid Color from the Focal Point 

There shouldn’t be too many patterns because that can be extremely overwhelming, so the next thing I typically do is pick a solid color from the pattern on the focal point for someone else to wear.  It was easy this year because Brian already had an aqua polo hanging in his closet that coordinated perfectly with the aqua in Jacob’s shirt.  I love it when a plan comes together this easily. 

Throw in Some Neutrals 

It can also be overwhelming to have too much color, so neutrals are the perfect way to tone it down a bit.  Olivia already had a cream sweater and this darling gray fur vest, so I decided that she would be neutral girl this year.

Throw in Another Solid Color to Tie It All Together 

Since Jacob was the only one wearing mustard, I decided that I would wear it as well to bring the whole look together.  I found this shirt at Target and it could not be a more perfect fit. 

Add Accessories for Texture and Depth 

A floral scarf and a cream cardigan (not pictured) for me, a bow for Olivia (not pictured), and brown fringe boots for both of us were the perfect way to add dimension to the look without overwhelming it. 

Check Your Work 

Lay all of the outfits down on the floor or the bed and make sure that the overall look is cohesive.   

Next, take a quick look to make sure that all of the outfits look good together in pairs.  Examples below: 

Mom and dad
Mom and son
Mom and daughter
Dad and son
Dad and daughter
Son and daughter 

We often take pictures in pairs and we like to get lots of pictures of the kids alone together, so I like to make sure that every possible combination of outfits looks good next to each other.

Pray the Photographer Gets a Shot of Everyone Smiling in the Same Picture 

Good luck!  Can’t help you with this one!  :o) 

We will be taking ours in a couple of weeks, and I’ll be sure to share them with you as soon as they are available. 

Until then, here’s a look back on the past fall family photos that we used for Christmas card pictures.









  1. This is really helpful and great advice! I love the photos from each year too. You have such a sweet family! Beautiful collection already :)

  2. Great tips girl!! Can't wait to see this years pics!

  3. Too cute! I love your choices for this year!!!

  4. Can't wait to see how the pictures turn out! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

  5. EEK! I can't wait to see your pics! Great tips, too!

    1. Thanks, Marie! Hopefully I can get the kids to cooperate! Haha.

  6. This are great tips! I totally lucked out this year and won a styling session with a local stylist - so she helped a ton! The pics turned out awesome and I'm so excited to share - soon!

  7. Good luck - hope the pictures go great! Love last years!

  8. Where are the pictures from this post? Its now 2017.



Thank you for taking the time to comment... I read and respond to each and every one! However, if you are a no-reply blogger (meaning that your email address is not connected to your Blogger account), I will not be able to reply to you directly via email... you will have to check back on the blog post for a response!