Tips for Picking Outfits for Your Family Photos

About one month ago, I hadn’t had a single professional family photo taken, besides our wedding day. But now I’ve done three different looks with two different photographers, so I’m basically a professional. Duh.

All kidding aside, I’m going to share a few tips I learned along the way but mostly I’ll be sharing tips from our photographer Beatrice Cormann who runs L’Atelier des Artistes, a fine art photography company here in Connecticut. Beatrice has over 15 years of experience as a renowned hair and makeup designer in the fashion and film industry. And, along with her husband Denis who is a lifeline photographer with a degree in Photography and a Masters in Cinematography, they make a dynamic duo who really know their stuff.

Today we’re talking all about what to wear, but stay tuned for 2 weeks from now I’ll be sharing general family photo tips!

Don’t match. Coordinate.

I think the hardest part of picking outfits for a family is you want everyone to coordinate, but not be too matchy-matchy. You’re going to be looking for colors and textures that go together, but they don’t need to be identical. I’m sharing some tips below on how to do that.

Start with one person.

The best tip is to start with the outfit for one person. You can either start with whoever is the hardest to shop for and find a good outfit for them. Or, I just opted to choose what I wanted to wear first, and then planned everyone else’s outfit around that.

In general, it’s going to be easier to start from a single piece and work off that.

Add to your base color(s)

Beatrice told me that the general rule of thumb is usually no more than 3 colors but you can totally break this rule. While sticking to all neutrals can be safe, it’s ok to have some fun.

She suggested starting with 1 base neutral such as jeans or grey or khakis, and then add in two colors.

EXAMPLE: For these photos, I had found this reddish colored dress that I thought was great for fall time shots. Then I paired it with this new blue flannel for Miles and put Michael in a similar blue jean. For our neutral, we brought in some tan in Michael’s thermal shirt and Miles’ pants.

Create a Virtual “Try-On”

One thing I did that really helped me was just to paste screenshots of our clothing into a little collage. I just used which is free, you could also use It allowed me to see how the pieces were really looking together and I could swap out all sorts of different items. It helped me decide which things to purchase instead of buying it all and then returning what didn’t work.

Comfort is Key

Beatrice suggestions that before colors or patterns, make sure you feel COMFORTABLE in your outfit and shoes. She said at the end of the day, that is the most important to get the right dynamic in the session.

Shop at the same store

If you’re planning to buy mostly new outfits for the day, sometimes shopping all at the same store during the same season can be helpful because stores tend to use similar colors, patterns, and textures.

Don’t Strive for Perfection

Don’t stress over little things like jeans not being exactly the same shade or someone’s shirt being a little brighter red than you envisioned. When it’s all said and done, the photos will look fine and no one will notice little details like that anyway.

The perfect example is I bought this outfit for Miles specifically for these photos and hadn’t even taken the tags off until the day of. When I went to put them on at the location, I realized they had accidentally sent me 12-month pants, not 24-month pants. They were just a tad tight and a tad short LOL! At the end of the day, the photos still look great and I get a little chuckle every time I see his short short pants.

Consider a Trial Run

However, if you want to avoid my mishap I just shared, consider having everyone try on their outfits beforehand just to ensure there aren’t any mis-fitting items or snafus. It can be helpful and put your mind at peace to see how it all looks ahead of time and make any adjustments if needed.

Don’t Forget to Plan Hair and Makeup

Beatrice suggests you wear makeup and hair how you would for a family dinner, a little more than usual but nothing too over the top that it no longer looks like you. Too much foundation or powder can make you lose your natural glow. If you want to go a little bold more she suggested opting for lashes. And, don’t forget a good lip color, this doesn’t have to be something bright or bold, just something to bring freshness to your lips.

A few make-up don’ts, Beatrice says the most important is nothing glittery or too shimmery as it can reflect the light in the wrong way and is very hard for a photographer to edit out.

And, if you’re still unsure, Beatrice also said it could be a great time to consider getting your hair and makeup done. Choose a professional beauty artist who has experience in the photography industry.

When in doubt, choose shades of a color

I did a mini photoshoot with my mom earlier this year and since she was driving down the day of the photos, I just kept it simple. We all wore shades of whites and blues. It’s maybe not quite as exciting of a dynamic, but if you’re really stressing over getting the looks just right, it’s a super safe fallback!

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I'm Kallie!

Also known as That Practical Mom

I’m all about helping you simplify the chaos of life so you can slow down and enjoy it.

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