How to Plan Outfits for Family Photos


We just had family photos done for the first time in a long time. This time of year when the leaves are colorful, and the air is brisk, is our busiest time of the entire year. It's also the time everyone thinks to take family photos.

After the last few years of helping other families that came into our store, pick out their family photo outfits, I thought it was well overdue that we have some done of our own!

1) Don't pick a color scheme first.

If you pick a specific color scheme that you're going for, you become very limited on items that you'll pick out when you go shopping for your outfit. You don't want to limit yourself because you could pass something up completely that looks stunning. There are no rules for color schemes. Whether it's fall, winter, or summer there are no rules. Most families tend to go for the burgundy/plum/grey or mustard/rust hues in my experience, because that's "what they're supposed to do" for fall/winter photos. But if you want to do hues of pink and teal, as long as you're wearing weather appropriate clothing, I say go for it!

2) Go into the store open minded about colors and styles.

To piggy-back off of my previous point. If you're close minded about the colors that you're going for you may miss something that would have been perfect. Don't go into it with the thought that you only want to wear a dress, because you may find a top that you fall in love with, and that's okay. 

3) Plan everyone's outfit around the matriarch in the photos.

Start with the matriarch of the photos. So if you're taking photos with mom, dad, and kids, the outfits start with mom's. If you're taking photos with grandma, grandpa, mom, dad, and kids, the outfits start with grandma's. In our case it's just me, Matt and our pup, Tarzan, so I won this title. I picked my outfit first and Matt's followed. 

4) What feeling do you want to create, do you want to remember something, do you want to have something sentimental in the photos.

We have gone 5 years without proper family photos, so many things happened in 5 years and something huge is happening soon so we were certainly going for the feels. The location we chose represents our home, the city we lived in together these past 5 years, and the one Matt has lived in all his life. The shoes I wore were a certain color to tie into Matt's jacket and to represent my wedding shoes. Matt's jacket was the jacket he wore on our wedding day. The location was where we got engaged, which we didn't really have any photos from. Everything tied together, and was just US. It tells such a beautiful story of our life. 

5) Deciding where you're taking the photos can make a big difference on the style of clothing so this should be done early on.

Once we decided on the location we were going to take our photos this gave me an idea of the outfits that I wanted us to wear. I definitely wanted to do two outfits that created two completely different feelings. The first location was downtown Indianapolis, we wanted a "fancier" look because we wanted to incorporate some sentimental pieces into the photos as well. Since we were going to have Matt wear his wedding jacket, that helped solidify that the first outfits needed to be a bit dressier. 

6) Try everything on first

As my good friend, Brandie says, "if it doesn't make you feel like a million bucks, it doesn't belong in your closet!" This advice applies to family photos as well. You need to try everything on to make sure you love the fit, the size, the style. If you don't end up liking the style or the fit but wear it anyways it will show. 

7) Finish the color story

Always finish the color story. This is important. If one person wears a color, try to incorporate it somehow. My dress was overall a green color, it had cream, navy and magenta elements in it. Matt wore a navy sweater to pull the navy from the dress, and a cream and white jacket to pull the cream. My white heels complimented the white stripes in his jacket. To finish it off, his shoes are a burgundy color to help connect the magenta in my dress. 

Our second outfits are meant to be "comfier" and cozy looking. Matt went with his trustworthy quarter zip sweatshirt, with brown buttons. My hat matched his buttons. My brown hat also had a black leather band that pulled the black on the back of my wedge. His boots are a nice deep chocolate color. My emerald green top was the main color, and I added my favorite print (cheetah) in my shoes to break up the simplicity of the outfits. Luckily, Tarzan just so happens to match everything!

8) Don't wear something very oversized

Oversized sweaters and comfy tops are cute in person, but they do not photograph well. They end up making you look bigger than you are, and nobody wants that. Avoid anything that is way oversized. 

9) Never wear something that you wouldn't wear in "real life."

These photos are going to tell a story of a season of your life. The outfits that I chose for Matt and I to wear are exactly what you would find us wearing on 1) a regular day 2) fancy outing. If your hubby doesn't want to wear an uncomfortable dress shirt with a tie this will inevitably show in his scowl in some of the photos, don't force him to. Let him be comfortable. If your children don't typically wear a suit and bowtie, let them be kids, you can dress them up without looking like a completely different family. 

10) Most importantly, have fun!

Don't care what anyone around you is thinking. I think everyone goes into a photoshoot thinking they're going to be "awkward." You could think that people are judging you (for what, I don't know), or you could know that everyone else has their photos done and probably think the same thing, so they're definitely not even worried about you. Smooch away, do the poses, dance, laugh, have fun. You will cherish these photos forever. 

PC: Sarah Carr Photography


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