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Coordinating Family Photo Outfits

Family dressed in blues and whites. Mom and dad holding brother and sister who are leaning over to kiss.

Coordinating family outfits for photos can feel intimidating,

But! It doesn’t have to be! I used to get all crazy trying to figure it out but this is what I do every time I plan out our family outfits for photos.

1. Think about how you want to use these photos. 

Are you wanting them just for Holiday cards? Are you wanting to hang them up in your home? Make an album to flip through? How do you want to enjoy them? I love having fresh photos done in the fall that I can put on our holiday card and gift to grandparents at Christmas. But my real love are springtime blossom photos, so those are the ones I actually hang up in our home and print off. Knowing that, I don’t go crazy with the fall photos (okay, maybe a little crazy because I can’t help it, I’m a photographer) and I don’t pick out clothes that scream fall since I like being able to use them outside of holiday cards if I want.

graphic with how to coordinate your family photos with 4 pictures of various families.

2. Think about what feeling you want in your pictures. 

 Do I want it to be edgy and dark, natural fabrics, light and lovely, or spring time colors? I click around pinterest and see what I’m drawn to in images. This season, I’ve been drawn to natural fabrics (linen, gauzy, chambray, etc.) and wanted the pictures to be a bit lighter and neutral toned. So I knew I wanted cream/khaki/white for my base with pops of color. 

3. Pick the most difficult to dress person’s clothing first.

I did a poll on instagram and mom and dad were neck and neck for who is the most difficult to dress! I had a dress I got that I loved so knew I’d be wearing that. I can usually find something I love, it just depends on if it’s in my budget or not! When you book with me, I send you a pinterest board with lots of options of clothing items you can purchase. You might not see exactly what you want on the board, but maybe you find a new shop to look at and find something else on their site. Think about what silhouette’s look best on your body–what do you feel best in? Look for those similar styles, and then I usually buy a bunch of dresses, and then send a bunch back! Just double check the return policy before you go too crazy! 

collage of various families posing for fall family photos

4. Walk around to everyone else’s closet.

Once I have my outfit, I wander into everyone else’s closet and see what things might work. The boys had just grown out of most of their church clothes which is what I usually pull from. So I ended up doing more shopping than I usually do for family photos. But I always buy things they will continue to wear for a while and will use. We attend church regularly so I know the dressier clothes I buy will be worn often. I’ll pull their basic khakis and jeans (depending on the look I’m going for) and dresses for Marjorie. Then I might notice I have everything but getting a bow for Marjie’s hair and a tie or suspenders for the boys will add in extra color and layering which always makes an outfit look more polished. 

5. Fill in the gaps 

This photo session, I got everything sorted out with myself and the kids and then had to figure out what to put my husband in. I knew I wanted khaki pants and probably a blue shirt. I really wanted a chambray shirt and kept ordering those but nothing was fitting quite right. I finally gave up and just got him a new light blue dress shirt which he will wear lots between work and church. Usually once I go around to everyone’s closet, I just need to buy one shirt or outfit to finish up the look. You generally want a neutral palette with pops of color rather than coordinating everyone in the same exact outfits or colors. Neutral colors might be cream, grey, white, khaki, black, navy, chambray…etc. I think all of those are great for adding pops of color to. Keep in mind that the darker your neutrals, the darker your overall images will be. Clothing has a big impact on how bright vs. dark an image looks. Again, when you think about your pops of color, how are you going to use these images? Do you want red for the holidays? Do you want springtime colors? Do you want colors that coordinate with your home color scheme? 

Collage of various families posing for family photos.

6. Hang it all up in your closet and don’t let anyone near the clothes until 30 minutes before pictures! 

Once I have everything, I lay it out on my bed and make sure it all looks good together. I make the kids try on things, especially pants since I don’t want them falling off during the session! Then I make sure everything is ironed and hang it up in my closet where I don’t let anyone near it until just before we head out to take the photos. 

I also usually will text a friend or two my clothes laid out to get a second opinion. Just to make sure I’m not looking at things funny! I’m always happy to have a client text me what they’re thinking for family photo outfit ideas. If you’d like me to capture your family and help you figure out family outfits for photos, contact me today and I’ll get you all set up! 

Watch out for my next post on my favorite clothing items for family photos this season! 

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  1. These are great tips, I know how much work it can be. My own family I hired a Photographer and told the kids to be on location 15 minutes prior, and this is the color scheme. It turned out pretty well. I have a Pinterest Board I share with clients and that makes a huge difference. Gives them lots of ideas.

    • Madison Thomson says:

      Yes! Just giving people a color scheme can help so much! And that’s definitely better than everyone wear white shirts and khaki pants : )

  2. Giselle says:

    These tips are so helpful! Finding what to wear for family photos can be a little overwhelming and tricky, this post makes it so much easier!

  3. Kandi says:

    Great tips and tricks, Madison! Love the customer service you offer clients. You make it so easy for families!

  4. Lindsay says:

    These are such great tips. Having the perfect outfits that coordinate really does take a family session to a whole new level. Gone are the days of white shirts and khakis, Yay! You really have a great eye for helping families put together their wardrobe. Your work is beautiful too.

  5. This is such a great guide! Choosing what to wear can feel so overwhelming, but it makes such a huge difference in the feel of the pictures.

  6. Linda says:

    Practical advice to help a family select their photo session clothing. What a great tip to select the most difficult person to outfit first…. is perfect. Late Summer or Early Fall is a perfect time for moms to read this blog post before they have images made.

  7. Christie says:

    These are great suggestions for your lucky clients!!!

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