take the guess work out of planning your family's look!

You finally have your family photo session booked with Shots! Nice work!

But now comes the hard part...what will everyone wear?

Coordinating outfits for your family can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to! Here are my most important tips to planning a cohesive family style!


While they had their time in photography history, he reign of blue jeans and white shirts are gone. Instead of trying to match outfits, think about one or two complementary colors and choose a color scheme instead. It should be based on the season and also the setting of your photos.

For example, blues and corals on the beach, or shades of burgundy paired with neutrals in the fall. If you need some inspiration on a color palette, Pinterest was born for this. Overwhelmed by your choices? Reach out! I believe great family portraits start by feeling confident and comfortable in the outfits you’ve chosen, so I am happy to give you advice on your color scheme or help you make final decisions between outfits.

Once you choose the color scheme, mix and match the colors, patterns, and textures so that everyone’s outfit flows and coordinates. Everyone should not have on all gray bottoms and all blue tops, for example. Think about balance and keep it to 2-3 colors total. Most people gravitate to jeans or pants, so add a dress or skirt for someone if you can to mix it up or mix it up with a textured fabric in your color scheme – lace works great for this!


Try to avoid solid white or black as those colors can look flat in photos, especially if multiple people are wearing it. If your heart is set on white, try something with texture (lace, linen, or knits) to add visual detail, or consider ivory instead - it shows more detail and looks warmer in photos.


Going shopping? Often times, stores will group the same colored clothing in one section or have complementary outfits in their displays. Taking note of this as you shop can make your search a lot easier.


Too many patterns can be very distracting in your final image. However, florals, stripes, plaids, and sometimes even polka-dots, can go nicely with block colors if they are subtle and have the same tone. For example, not everybody should wear a checkered shirt, but if Dad is the only one wearing it, it can make the photo more visually interesting. Floral patterns are also versatile and can often be paired with other patterns.


Avoid shirts with any type of text, branding, logos, or characters as it really detracts from the focal point - everybody’s lovely face! While we love that your daughter wants to wear her Minnie Mouse shirt every day, Minnie Mouse is not part of the family and therefore should probably not make the cut this time. Neon colors can also distract from an image or look fake. While young children often like bright colors, it might be a good idea to avoid your daughter’s favorite neon green bow.


Think tights, cardigans, blazers, jewelry, and/or scarves. Accessories can take an average outfit and make it feel more complete and can add interest to your photos. These are more for the grown-ups than for little ones, though. Babies and toddlers don’t need much in this category as it can overwhelm their small frames in the pictures. Plus, extra accessories may cause distraction for young children.

Another nice thing about layers is they can be added and removed during the session giving variety to the images you receive in your final gallery, without having to do an entire wardrobe change. For example, half the photos with the jean jacket, half without.


Make sure to separate yourself from the background. Contrasting and complementary colors are your friend.

If you plan to be in a park with a lot of greenery… maybe avoid the green and brown color palettes. We want to see you in your photos! On the flip side, if you are posing in front of fall colored trees, skip the bright summer colors or pale spring palettes, as the end result won’t flow together.


Photos are taken from many different angles. Your shoes don’t need to be the best or brand new, but make sure they are clean and in good appearance. You don’t want your favorite image to be ruined by the muddy tennis shoes your daughter decided to grab at the last minute.


To all the moms reading this and thinking about coordinating your family's outfits before your own, stop! If your thought process is to pick out everybody else’s outfit first and then buy a new one for you that “fits in” with the rest, you might not feel comfortable in the outfit you had to buy to go with the theme you created. And in the end, you won’t love your photos as much because you weren’t being you. Ladies, pick out your own outfits first!


Another mistake to avoid is copying an “out of the box” outfit based solely on inspiration you found online. For example, maybe that’s cowboy boots, lots of layers, a checkered shirt, or even a chunky necklace…but in your normal everyday life you would never wear that? Steer clear. You want these photos to show the real you, not the Pinterest-inspired you.


The whole point of these photos is to showcase and capture who you are as a family. Your chosen clothing, setting, and style should reflect that. Not beach people? Then don’t take your photos on the beach. It will feel forced. Instead go to your favorite park, the local downtown, or even your own backyard. Remember that your choices should allow everyone to feel relaxed and comfortable so your family’s personality can shine through in the end result.

Coordinated family style for this portrait session in Orange County California

Notice how the lace doesn't overwhelm the plaid in the son's shirt. Also, sweaters, flower crowns and blazers can be removed to add variety. Lastly, the mother's earrings and the daughter's shiny boots add interest and personal style to the image.