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Styling Your Session Like a Pro

Updated: Feb 18, 2019

If we’re being honest, the days before your photo shoot can be extra stressful (… you wouldn’t believe how many shoots get cancelled because the toddler fell and scraped up their face or the baby got sick.) Keeping everyone looking healthy and happy is an event in itself.

Add to that the pressure of figuring out how to style the whole thing and it can be totally insane.

So, how do you self-style your family shoot to look like a total pro? It’s not as hard as you think!

1. Start with Your Living Room

Look at your decor style in your main living areas. The end goal with photos is not that they live on your computer or phone but on your walls, shelves, and coffee tables. With that in mind you don’t want your photos to clash with your decor so plan accordingly.

2. Think Ahead with Seasons, Clothing, and Location

Season- If your home’s color palette is centered around airy pastels, consider a spring shoot instead of late fall. The soft greens and naturally lighter colors would be a perfect match to your decor rather than the bright oranges/yellows of autumn.

Clothes- If you’ve got a funky boho style going on throughout your house, it doesn’t really make sense to go the matching black polos/khakis route.

Location- If you’re living the Joanna Gaines dream, a museum of contemporary art is probably *not* the place to go.

(location can totally change the look and feel of your shoot)

3. Coordinate Your Crew

Once you’ve decided what season you’re shooting in, taken a look at your home decor, and given a quick thought to where you might want to shoot, half the work is done for your wardrobing!

Head to everyone’s closets and pull out an outfit or two for each person that 1. fits the season, 2. doesn’t clash with your decor (neutrals are usually a good place to start), 3. won’t look out of place at your location- e.g. heels + beaches are not a good idea, and 4. looks nice on them.

4. Final Touches

You should be pretty close by now! If you’re looking at all the outfits together and still feel like the combination is missing something, it’s probably color or texture or both.

Layer It Up. For extra texture add scarves, hats, vests, sweaters, jackets, and other accessories.

Add Some Color. While you bring in texture, pull more colors into the mix. If your outfits are leaning really heavily in one color direction you’ll want a few accent colors. There’s no hard and fast rule for this. I’ve photographed lots of beautiful family photos where everyone is wearing grayscale plus 1 accent color on a couple family members. But I’ve also seen families that have a different accent color on almost every person.

Because the purple is so strong, it’s paired well with neutrals. Lots of bright colors in one grouping can sometimes be a little overpowering but this is a great example of how one strong color can make a great statement.

Change It Up. Finally, if it STILL looks a little off, your outfits may be too similar so make little changes to each person. This is especially true for families with multiple boys. Rolling one child’s sleeves, a puffer vest on another, half tucking another’s shirt, etc. However, if you have the option of changing the whole outfit, consider the entire gamut of options- overalls, dresses, skirts, shorts, pants, sweaters, t-shirts, dress shirts, sweater vests, etc.

All 3 brothers are wearing variations of a blue button up, but the subtle variations between them make all the difference

5. Ask Your Photographer

I LOVE when my clients text me pictures of outfit ideas and where they want to display photos in their house. It helps us narrow down where to shoot at and how I can personalize the shoot to them. The more I know, the more I can get the EXACT shots they need. The space over your mantle needs a big canvas print? I’ll focus on making sure we get a really stellar horizontal family photo. You want to make a black and white gallery wall over your couch of cute candids? I’m on it.

The more your photographer knows, the more they can help if you need it!

6. Go With the Flow

While aesthetics matter, the most important factor in great family photos is great attitudes. Don’t stress yourself out trying to find the right accessory or spending hours on Pinterest figuring out what to wear. Staying relaxed and upbeat makes all the difference. It’s a little cliche but happy people really are the prettiest.

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