How to Coordinate Outfits for Your Family Session

One of the most common questions clients often ask during the early planning stages is, "What should we wear?" I get it. I’ve been there! It always helps to know how to coordinate outfits for your family session. I often find myself struggling to find the perfect color combinations to wear for professional photo sessions. But no need to worry. Today, I’m going to share simple tips and recommendations so you can let go of the stress and start looking forward to your portrait session.

Here are a few simple tips and recommendations to help you curate your family outfits:

1. Envision where you would like to display your images

As a full-service fine art photographer specializing in custom gallery wall design, I always encourage clients to start with the end in mind. Walk to each room in your house and think about how you would like to display and see your images in your home. Are there certain rooms in your home you could envision displaying a canvas or framed print? Take note of which rooms you’d like to decorate with your gorgeous new images. Is that empty space above your fireplace in need of a new family portrait?

How to Coordinate Stunning Outfits for Your Family Session 23.jpg

Next, look around the room. What colors inspire you? If you’re planning on displaying your new images in a certain space, think about the overall feel, color and style of the room, and use them as inspiration when choosing your outfits.

2. Choosing outfits

For mom. Leave your best gowns and jewelry at home. Go for a flowy tunic or maxi dress. Tight, form fitting dresses will not work well as you will be kneeling and sitting down. These types of outfits photograph best with the environment.

For dad. Think more relaxed pants like nice-fitting khakis, navy, gray or soft-colored pants paired with a nice, solid-colored collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up. Knit sweaters under collared shirts also look great in photos. For a polished look.

For baby. Rompers, onesies and overalls photograph well! Diaper covers under dresses look great. Remember to avoid busy colors and patterns, and stick to solids, especially for socks.

3. Choosing colors

When choosing colors for your outfits, I recommend selecting softer, lighter tones and more muted shades. Avoiding ultra-bright, bold colors, will help bring all the attention to your face. It also allows the eye to focus on the organic and timeless emotions captured in the photo. The camera loves shades of soft pink and muted blues, mixed with sophisticated light neutrals like heather gray, creams, leather brown and white.

That softer color palette fits beautifully into almost all natural outdoor environments, and especially complements the open fields, hills and the beach. It can easily be paired in so many different ways. Feel free to vary the shades of the colors, too.

Avoid busy patterns and designs. Solids look best in photos. Stripes, polka dots and checkered patterns look busy and visually distracting.

3. Mixing colors

Keep in mind that your outfits will look the most cohesive on camera when the color palette and wardrobe pieces coordinate, but don't actually match. Instead of matching, think about what fits together. This will create more visual interest and allow everyone’s personality to shine through. The goal is to visually break up the colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more you can mix things up, the better. I encourage you to think about planning each outfit with dominant colors and accent colors in mind.

A dominant color is the color that is most prominent in an outfit. An accent color, on the other hand, has a smaller piece of visual real estate. When planning each family member's outfit, aim for each person to have a different dominant color, and then tie in and vary the accent colors. This combination is sure to look stunning and timeless.

For example, let’s say you’re wearing a flowy, blush pink dress and soft blue accessories, and nude heels. Blush, in this case, would be your dominant color. Your husband could wear a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, with brown leather shoes and perhaps a blush pocket square. His dominant color would be navy. Your daughter could then wear a soft blue top with a white tulle skirt (making soft blue her dominant color) while your son wears light beige pants with navy suspenders and a white button-down (making white his dominant color).

Now each person will have their own dominant color while still incorporating a few touches of the others that will pull all the looks together. This will break up the colors visually and highlight everyone’s personality. Most moms choose their dress first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits around that.


Refer to the Pinterest Board I have put together.

This board has lots of ideas and examples of family outfits that photograph great.

Which tip did you find the most helpful and why? Let me know in the comment section below.


TipsAiane KarlaComment