Styling your family for a photo session (Tips for getting your look just right)

One of the questions we get asked the most is: What should we wear??? We usually recommend choosing colors that compliment each other, comfortable fabrics, and weather appropriate clothing. Here is a short styling guide to help…

Styling your family for your new portraits is a little intimidating. Everybody sees family portraits involving matching sweaters, or no coordination at all, but it doesn’t have to go down like that. The right color palette, textures, and coordination will allow your family’s personality to shine through your portraits without distracting too much from what makes the portrait special: you and your loved ones.


Stay within a complimentary color palette that matches your family. When choosing a color palette, start with one color or one outfit. If you are in charge of everyone’s outfits, it’s easier if you begin by choosing your own outfit, then coordinate everyone else’s look off of the colors that you choose. Shy away from heavy or distracting patterns and also avoid large text, graphics, or logos. Also consider where you are going to display your photos in your home. If you want to put up your portrait in your living room, what is the color scheme going on in there? Take note of the wall colors, large artwork or other decorations you have displayed, furniture etc. The most important thing to remember is coordination, not exact matching. Once you have your colors pinned down, start thinking about patterns.


Notice here how everyone started with a navy or dark blue-green color. From there, Dad’s pants with Mom and Baby’s shoes add more color.¬†Patterns are an opportunity for more color within your palette. You want your patterns to add texture and dimension to your outfit without it taking over. Individually, the family above is in their own unique outfits but can still come together as a unit and look good, which is how your family should be portrayed.

When planning your family portrait session, you’ll definitely want to look nice, but also remember to be comfortable in what you are wearing. If you’re comfortable during your session, then you’ll be more natural. Don’t worry, it is definitely possible to look nice while remaining casual.


Uncomfortable temperatures make even the best of us cranky so remember to dress for the weather if you choose an outdoor location, especially if there are little ones involved. If there is the potential for chilly weather, layers actually add a whole new layer of dimension to your outfits. Coats, printed scarves, or chunky sweaters add dimension, texture, and change of color. Since these items can be taken on and off they also help add variety to your shoot. We watch the weather very closely.


Make sure to leave plenty of time to get ready so everyone has the opportunity to look their best, including yourself! You know your family best, so if somebody is spill and/or stain prone, pack an extra set of clothes just in case. There is really no need to run out and purchase brand new outfits for everybody. The clothes you already have and are comfortable in will translate your personality through your photos the best. If you have any questions about dressing your family for your shoot, just ask! Here at Valerie Kate Photography, we want your portraits to turn out as perfect as possible.

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