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5 Styling Tips for your Family Session!

by Rachel Gaetz

When I have the task of choosing outfits for my own family's photos shoots, I tend to refer to my own clients' past sessions for ideas! I get so inspired when I work with clients who have out put together great looks for their family photos. In the 9 years that I have taken photos for families, here are the elements I have noticed that make a shoot visually successful. (Oh, and I also called upon the help of one of my rock star clients to help me write this post.)

1. Focus on the mama! Make sure you love your outfit and that it feels comfortable and special. "I always pick my outfit first. The pictures always seem to turn out better if mama is wearing something she is comfortable and confident in. Usually, we moms put our kids first, but not when it comes to pictures!" says my friend/client Nicole Lewis. (Side note, I love Nicky)

I will also say that if you are deciding between a cute top and jeans OR a dress, GO FOR THE DRESS. Your photos will have a classic feel and you can't beat the beautiful movement that dresses can create.

2. Stay in the same color family. Pick colors and tones that coordinate and complement each other. For instance, you don't want to put everyone in the same navy blue shirt. I usually stick to a certain theme such as cool tones, neutrals etc." says Nicole. Use your outfit as the base and use a color palette with three or four colors that most of the outfits incorporate.

3. Accessorize thoughtfully. When it comes to accessories... Go for it! It adds visual interest and can capture personalities too. "I love to add in accessories, texture and pattern. It just gives the pictures more dimension and character. I will typically use different headbands for the girls, or hats." says Nicole

4. Dress for the weather! I am a Midwestern photographer which means that our weather fluctuates wildly between subzero winters, beautiful springs and falls, and sweltering summers. Unless it's an indoor studio session, consider yours and your family's comfort... and embrace the season we are in! It's ok for kiddos to be barefoot in the summer and to rock snow boots and scarves in the winter.

5. Consider the destination of your photos! Are these photos being displayed in a main area of your house? What color is the wall your prints will be going on? Maybe your images are being used for holiday cards/birth announcements? Consider what will be framing your images and that will help guide your styling and color choices. (I am personally a color girl, as you can see below. I knew when we recently had family photos taken, I wanted mustard/gold accents in our clothes to go up against a teal wall in our bedroom.

A few more quick tips:

  • Avoid clothing with logos
  • Don't try on something new for the first time at your session. If you want your child to wear a new pair of shoes, sweater, etc. don't let photo day be the first time you try this item on.
  • If you are bringing snacks to a session to keep morale high, I suggest food that doesn't create crumbs. Fruit snacks are usually a good option!

I hope you were able to take away a few ideas or tips for your next family session. Please let me know if there's anything I should add in this guide too!

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I’m Rachel Gaetz
I’m Rachel Gaetz and I am a creative portrait photographer in the Twin Cities. I am also a busy mom of four and can often be spotted with a coffee in hand, a big messy bun on my head, and a baby on my hip. My goal is to create images that YOU will be obsessed with -- pictures you will be eager to post today as well as cherish decades from now. My business BelleAmiss Photography strives to take the stress out of photo sessions while capturing life's beautiful imperfections. You will leave feeling great about YOU and your photo experience.
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