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How To Style Your Family Photos

Let’s face it, styling our entire families for photos can be the most stressful part of deciding to get photos done. We all see the families on instagram and Pinterest and think, “I could never pull that off.” But guess what, mama, YOU CAN! I’ll share my favorite places to buy outfits at the end of the post.

The gorgeous smiling faces and sunsets falling behind the horizon in beautiful outfits certainly make it look like they have it all together. Guess what! It’s because of the styling and the photographer capturing the right milliseconds that their photos can look like that. The best part is, you can look that way too. With the right photographer, those magical moments from Pinterest can be yours!

When you work with me for your family photos, you are going to receive a comprehensive styling guide along with one-on-one assistance right up until your session. You can also utilize my growing client closet of beautiful dresses and handmade gowns with special photography sizing - which means the gowns are adjustable from sizes S to XXL, maternity and not. Amazing right?!

So when you are picking your outfits for your family photography session, you might be thinking, “Where do I start?” My first tip for anyone planning a family photography session is to begin with yourself. We want to make it easy by having a starting point, and when we feel confident in our own outfits, it’s way easier to choose our family’s.

Colors / Coordination: Photographs have the most interest when everyone is wearing something slightly different. When colors are coordinating, rather than matching, it gives dimension and helps with layering within the composition of a photo. Our goal will be to choose colors that will slightly contrast the environment you’re shooting in as well. If we are out in Yorktown at the beach, we’ll choose colors that will pop against the grays and blues of the water; like rust or mustard yellow, creams or blacks, maybe a floral pattern with contrasting colors. If we are out in the fields of Smithfield, you’ll want to avoid the same greens or browns that are in the area, depending on the season. My styling guide includes color palette examples and I have a bunch more if you need help figuring out where to start.

Shoes: Boots are always recommended; no matter the season, no matter the person. We go exploring quite often during my sessions and here, that means walking through overgrown fields that might be a little muddy - because let’s face it, Virginia rains a ton, year-round. You’ll want to make sure you are comfortable tromping through the overgrown fields of the battlefield. If we are on a beach, definitely prepare everyone to be barefoot! The ones that usually need the most convincing are dads. I don’t know what it is about a man and his feet, but it’s a thing. Even with mine. Lol They can bring their dress shoes if we get photos off the sand, but they can kinda kill the vibe if they wear those shoes during our laid back, sandy vibes.

For Mamas: Look for a flowy skirt, one that will move when you grab it and swish it around. Movement can invoke emotion in a photograph unlike anything else. If the wind can catch the skirt and move it around for you, even better! When you have your family photos, you’re going to want to be able to move. I want you to be able to pick up your kids, dance with your partner, lay on the ground - I’ll bring blankets, don’t worry! :) Most importantly, I want you to feel comfortable and beautiful. And even if you’re a diehard tomboy or don’t normally wear dresses, there are ways to accessorize flowy skirts with a crop top and a leather jacket, that can lend to really interesting and flattering visuals. You can trust me to make your vision come to life.

For Younger Kiddos: If you’re planning to wear a solid color, this is where you can implement beautiful textures or patterns to complement your outfit. If you want the pattern to be in your outfit, then you’ll want to stick to textures and solids for the kids. We will be getting photos of you with just them, so keep in mind the color palette you want. If you are wearing a rust colored dress, let’s put them in other earthy tones like olive green, cream, or browns. Corduroy is usually pretty easy to find in the fall; gauze has become popular during summertime; cable-knit cardigans are always a great addition. Layering is going to be your friend to keep kids’ outfits interesting. If you can get a boy with some cute overalls and a long john textured shirt underneath, or a girl with a flowy ruffled skirt and a knitted cardigan over the top, you’ve got yourself a winner. Again, boots are always cute on littles in these types of outfits. Accessorizing with cute suspensors or a headband can also elevate a child’s outfit easily.

Older Kids: Letting older kids have some input can be a great way to get them to feel more comfortable with the idea of family photos. Let them be themselves! These photos are to capture your authentic selves, so don’t push too hard on making them fit into a box if it’s truly not who they are. Teenagers and preteens can be a little tricky to get excited about sessions sometimes, so making sure we are setting them up for success is key. Give them a few colors and go shopping - in their closet or treat them to a new favorite outfit. For older girls, the long maxi dresses are ideal. Just like with mamas, we want their outfit to produce movement. For boys, a similar concept for littles and dads - just make sure they are complimenting colors to your outfit and add texture.

Dads: These guys are usually pretty easy. Simple t-shirts, sweaters, or Henleys with some olive, brown, or navy pants and you’re set. Add texture where you can and make sure they like their clothes. A lot of times, partners get tasked with choosing these outfits, but when the day comes, we want to make sure they feel important and special just like everyone else. Their outfits will be more complimentary to the others, but they’re just as crucial to the overall aesthetic. Don’t overlook shoes - make sure they are neutral colors and not distracting.

What to Avoid: Avoid checkered patterns, stripes of any kind, and itty bitty patterns found commonly on dress shirts. These create a pattern that can be difficult to remove, called moiré. There are tools that I can use to minimize the pattern, but when the images are compressed for online viewing, they crush the patterns and create this weird, swirly look. Avoid bright, stark white or other bright colors - these can reflect on your faces and make it difficult to achieve those neutral, creamy skin tones we all love so much. Avoid words & writing of any kind, bright neon colors, and fitted, short dresses.

So that’s pretty in depth, but it’s so important to makes sure we are considering every detail when choosing location, color palette, outfits, and accessories. Part of your family photography experience with me is styling; it’s something that is vital to my style of photography and making sure I can deliver what you are hiring me for. When you need a helping hand, I’m here for you! Send me all the pics, send me your questions, and send me your ideas!

Top Places To Buy Clothes For Family Photos:

For Women: Baltic Born, Lulus, ASOS, Morning Lavender, Boden, JoyFolie

For Kids: Zara, Old Navy, Carters + OshKosh, Hanna Anderson, Boden, Target, H&M

For Men: Haggar, Target, H&M, GAP, Old Navy

We’re a team when we work together and I’m excited to make the family photos of your dreams a reality!

Let’s do this! <3


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