You’ve chosen a photographer that you’re excited about, and you’ve scheduled your session. Then it’s time to figure out what everyone is going to wear! This can feel like the hardest decision of the photography process, right? There’s a lot of pressure to look perfect for your photos (thanks, Pinterest), while also retaining your personality and individuality. But don’t worry, you can do it!

To begin, here are a few main rules to keep in mind:

1. Coordinate instead of Match

Start with a neutral color like khaki, denim, navy–something that everything ‘goes’ with. Then add coordination/contrast from there. (If you want to have fun playing with color families, check out Coolors!)

2. Solid colors

Generally, you want to stay with solid colors, or small patterns. Big words, pictures, or large patterns distract the eye–we want your eye to go to your beautiful faces! And again, you want those colors to go together/coordinate.

3. Comfort

Don’t forget about comfort! Especially with small kids–try to make sure it’s a type of clothes they’ll be used to wearing, so they will keep them on like you want. 🙂 Layers like cardigans or scarves can be really useful, as another way to add color or texture, and mitigate for weather.

4. Remember the Shoes

If you have a beautifully coordinated outfit but the footwear doesn’t go with the look, the whole thing will be thrown off. Make sure everyone’s socks and shoes go with their outfit and that they’re comfortable. (I know from personal experience that cute but ouchy shoes do NOT make for a pleasant session!)

5. Add accessories!

A bit of sparkle and/or shine really ups the wow factor. And remember that you can still be *you*–your personality and style should show through your photographs, from your clothes and your expressions and interactions.


And now here are some real-life examples!

1. Classic Urban

family with toddler walking down the street

Here’s a simple and classic family example. Everyone’s got something blue–mom’s dress was perfectly swingy and flattering, dad looked crisp in khakis and a blue button down, and baby has some adorable stripes and white shorts. Everyone’s in neutral brown shoes. This is the kind of look that you might be able to put together from your existing pieces–start with the dress and go from there.

2. Orange!

smiling family walking in the woods portland photographer

If I said wear orange for your session, would that sound weird? It sounds like a loud, crazy color, but orange is beautiful when used as an accent color, as you see with this lovely and fashionable family. Don’t they look fantastic? They’re all wearing shades of blue (and see, it doesn’t even need to be the same shade–all the blues still act as neutral), and then there are the fabulous pops of orange to contrast. Notice the girls have a couple orange accessories, and the oldest daughter even has orange shoes! The older boy’s shirt has a small plaid pattern that includes both blue and orange. A few of the family members have brown shoes, which is another neutral. These colors worked perfectly to stand out against the green background too.

3. Textures

family of three sitting on a picnic blanket

Here’s another adorable family in shades of blue. Dad’s shirt has a red and blue plaid, which adds a really nice, bright visual point of interest. Mom’s jacket has a pretty lace texture and her necklace adds a gorgeous sparkle framing her face. Baby is in blue, and everyone’s shoes are brown. Perfectly pulled together!

4. Break the rules!

colorful headshot of a redhead woman

First, Emily here has some amazing coordination going on–her cardigan, blouse, and necklace all feature the same light green-blue hue. The flowers are a large print, and didn’t I say up there that those are ‘bad’? I did, but don’t be afraid to break the ‘rules’! This print is bright, fresh, colorful, and really helps show *her* bright and sunny personality. The colors are soft and coordinate beautifully, and they all go so well with that gorgeous auburn hair! The print doesn’t overpower the subject; it truly enhances the portrait.

 What styling or clothing questions do you have? Let me know in the comments or via email, and I’ll be sure to address them in upcoming posts!