Wednesday, January 29, 2014

How to Plan Outfits for Your Family Photos!

Over the past few years, we've had our photos taken by my favorite local, professional photographer.  Each time we've had our photos taken, I've planned out our the whole family's outfits.  It takes a little time and some finagling, but putting together outfits for family pictures doesn't have to be a hard task!

When you're putting together your outfits, here are a few things I take into consideration:


Before you even begin to plan your outfits - determine the number of people or family members in your shoot.  I find that if you're taking family photos with two, three, or four people, having two main and distinct colors tends to be enough variability without being too distracting.  When you put every family member in a white top and khaki pants, you tend to lose each individual in the photo.  But when you diversify your color palette just a twidge by making two colors your goal, you can often highlight each individual while still looking like a cohesive whole.

Of note, when you are planning your colors, I find that having at least one color that isn't a neutral helps to make your photos stand out just a bit more.  If you look at the photo above, we used navy as our main base color with coral as our main accent/pop color.  Pairing the neutral with a pop color gives you a better balance than pairing two accent or two neutral colors together at the same time.

If you have a larger group, you may want to add in one additional accent color.  If we had more family members in this photo shoot - like my or DH's parents - another accent color we could have easily pulled from Little Lady's dress, my necklace, or my earrings is the lighter teal.  When you have more people {as in 5+ people}, a third accent color can continue to give more depth to the photo.

Once you've decided how many colors you'd like to add to your family photo color palette, you need to factor in your location.


The background of your photos will definitely help you choose your color palette.  If you're taking photos outside against mainly earth-tones - like we were in these family photos - colors like green, tan, or brown are going to completely fade us into the background.  I know that there are many people who love a color scheme of whites, light blues, and khakis for a beach scene, but I also find those to fade into the background.  Choosing colors that provide contrast from your background can make your family look distinct from their surroundings.

So, now that you have your number of colors and color palette - what next?

I tend to begin by finding one inspiration piece.  In this case, I found this dress for Little Lady and used it to determine the outfits for the whole family.  After I found this dress, I was able to start piecing together everyone else, one by one.


When you're adding each family member's outfit, you want to be mindful of a few things.  The first is finding pieces that coordinate, but don't necessarily have to match.  I find that pairing different patterns tends to help.  Stripes, plaids, paisley, dots, prints - if you're in the same color families, you can mix these to provide texture while still looking coordinated... again without being matchy-matchy.

It's also important to make sure each outfit will look nice next to any other outfit in the bunch.  For example, in the three photos above you can see that any configuration between DH, the kids, and I would result in a coordinated look.

Another way I add depth to our photos is by layering. DH doesn't typically allow me to mess with his outfits too much, but when it's cooler outside, he'll give way to a sweater with v-neck underneath or a t-shirt under a button-up under a structured jacket.  With Little Man - I love layering button-up's, vests/sweaters, and jackets.  For Little Lady, a great way to layer is to use tights and jackets as well.  Even a printed tight or legging underneath a more solid color to her clothing would stick with the theme.  I tend to layer myself with accessories, which we'll talk about in a moment.

Before we do though - I want to hit on one trick that helps me immensely while shopping - bringing my other main pieces with me.  For these photo outfits - once I found Little Lady's dress, I took it with me to any other store I visited to lay it next to the other possible outfits.  That way, you'll know quickly if the pieces you're picking up are actually going to work before you bring them home.

After you've found your outfits, it's time to accessorize!


Adding in items like colorful shoes, jewelry, scarves, and hair bows are extremely easy options for women and girls to accessorize, but the boys and men tend to be more difficult.  In this photo shoot and in the past, I've accessorized our guys by adding hats, ties, watches, and scarves.

It may seem like this is just one more detail to worry about, but it you even just minimally accessorize, it finishes out the photo!

I hope the method I use to choose our family photo outfits has helped out just a bit if you're stumped on planning your own outfits!  I'd love to hear in the comments what color palettes you've used before!

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