10 Tips for How to Style a Family Photoshoot

When we got our new Double Doodle (Goldendoodle / Labradoodle mix) puppy Rainey, I knew we had to capture the moment in time before she was full grown. I set up a shoot with a local Nashville photographer that I use all the time for blogging, Kelsey Young (@KYoung.Photo on Instagram).  She did an amazing job with my full family! She gave the best prompts to make you laugh, had music playing for Owen to make it fun, and overall it was a great  experience!

The hours spent trying to coordinate the perfect outfits as family before the actual photoshoot is a whole different story. It’s easy for me to coordinate blog outfits, all I have to think about is shoot location and fitting the aesthetic. With 2 other people and a dog in the mix, there’s a little more prep work involved. After 6+ hours of online shopping and ordering about 15 extra shirts and pairs of shorts for the guys (literally bought the rainbow), I had enough inventory to play mix n match on the living room floor. I laid all the clothing options side by side, coordinating which styles and patterns looked best together. I’m summarizing everything I learned with some tips below, along with family photoshoot outfit inspiration! We did 3 different looks total, so plenty of inspo!

 How to Coordinate Outfits for a Family Photoshoot without being too Matchy-Matchy 

Tip 1: Pick the vibes

You all want to be wearing a similar level of dressiness. For us, I wanted it to look like everyday real life. It would feel so weird for me to dress Owen up in a button down and look for formal, to me, that’s not who we are as a family! We are chill, casual, and fun! I wanted our photos to represent that, and I knew Owen would be the happiest and most comfortable in a t-shirt and shorts. Pictures will always look the best when you feel your best and are confident!

Tip 2: Pick the color palette based on where you want to hang the picture in your home

If you’re struggling with a starting point for colors – think about the color palettes in the room you may be hanging this picture. What accent colors do you have? Are you light and neutral or fun and bright? Maybe you have a boho vibe? Again, back to the “vibe” tip – stick to something that represents YOU. Don’t try to fit in – it’s a representation of you and your family and there’s no wrong way to do that.

I’d recommend sticking with 1-2 main colors and possibly incorporating a third. One of the colors should be a neutral like white or grey.

Tip 3: Is there something you absolutely love and want to wear? Base the rest of the family off your outfit.

For me, my absolute favorite dress I can’t get sick of is my blue polka dot maxi dress! So you know what? I wore it. If you feel strongly about wearing something in particular, use that as your starting point and design the other family members outfits and colors around your outfit. When I wore the blue dress, I knew Ross and Owen needed to be more neutral – so I incorporated greys and whites into their outfits.

Tip 4: Don’t be afraid of pattern!

I see tips all the time to avoid pattern. As long as EVERYONE isn’t in pattern, and you choose something flattering, you can absolutely go for it! For a family of 3, at least 1 of us needed to be in solid to balance out the patterns.

Plaid shirts for men are an easy way to incorporate pattern, and look great with you in a solid color textured dress! But what if you have a patterned dress that you want to wear (like I did with the polka dot dress)? I found ONE ideal mens shirt that I swear went with every patterned dress I pulled out of my closet. A light grey and white gingham check is almost like a neutral because the pattern is light. The pattern mixed and matched perfectly with my royal blue and white polka dot dress.

Another pattern that I think would look great in photos would be a floral print. The only thing I would say to avoid is horizontal stripes – those angles can sometimes make you appear wider!

Tip 5: Incorporate different textures

Textures are an easy way to differentiate and create 3 different looks that still coordinate. I would say at least one family member should be in chambray or a linen shirt. A heathered t-shirt look is also a great neutral if you are needing to balance out some pattern. 

Tip 6: White is always a great choice!

At least 1 person is probably going to need to be in solid white, or a version of solid white. I had Owen in a heathered white tee when I was in a patterned dress, and when I was in a white dress I had Owen in a two-toned shirt. If you choose to wear a white dress – choose something with an enhanced design feature, like embroidery, small cutouts or something eye catching!

Tip 7:   Want to Wear a Dress? A Maxi Dress is Key

You’re probably going to do a few varying poses – sitting, standing, fake walking, etc. If you’re wearing a dress, a maxi dress will make the sitting part way more comfortable. You can drape it across the grass to look like a blanket, and use it to cover areas of your body so you can’t see up your dress. Even when you’re standing the dress creates such a dreamy look when it blows in the wind!

Tip 8: Keep the Jewelry Simple and Balanced  

To keep the photo timeless, I recommend keeping it light and dainty with the jewelry. Statement earrings? Yes. Statement necklace? Probably not. For men, I like them wearing a watch, but for women, I left my watch at home and swapped for an elegant gold bracelet stack. Since I wore larger earrings, I didn’t wear a necklace at all, but something small would work if you feel naked without one.

Tip 9: Bring a  fun attitude!

The most important part – a fun attitude! You want to look happy! A good photographer like Kelsey will prompt you with funny things to do / say to make you laugh. If kids are in a bad mood that day, incentivize with treats after the shoot! Or make It fun by playing music and let them pick the songs. Owen loves playing DJ and it kept him entertained. So did Rainey, our dog.

Tip 10: Favorite Color Combos

I’ll end with some of my favorite color combinations for outfits, depending on the season.

  • Summer: blues, whites, and khaki – they are great for light and airy vibes. Definitely think about adding florals here and shooting in a green field open field!
  • Fall – camel, burgundy, mustard , olive – anything that looks like fall foliage! Anything with crispy fall leaves on the ground or in the background would make a great autumn shoot.

Out of the three outfit combos we wore, what’s your favorite?

Here are some bonus pictures below! 🙂

Hi, I'm Anna!

Welcome to the corner of the internet where you’ll find boho & bright style, travel adventures, and life in my latest “hometown” – Nashville, Tennessee. My love and I recently bought a house – and we’re taking on the renovations ourselves! You’ll be seeing more home content here – from DIY tutorials to home decor inspiration. We have a LOT of ideas for this house, implementing slowly one room at a time!

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