What should we wear? Coordinating outfits for your family session versus matching

September 15, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

My first blog topic is related to the main content of the prep email I send to all of my clients – WHAT TO WEAR! While there is super-valuable information in that email, I really love when I get the chance to show specific examples of those tips put into real life. One of the biggest questions I get from clients of all ages and family make ups is: “What should we wear?”


The nice thing is that you can all wear different colors as long as they don’t completely clash. I had an extended family session recently where the grandma wore a brown/tan outfit, the grandpa wore a blue sweater, the dads each wore a cream and a gray sweater, one mom had a green shirt and the other had a black and pink floral shirt and then the kids/babies each wore something totally different – one had on a gray sweater, the other had on a blue shirt with red pants and the little girl wore a pink and black outfit.


So – lots of variety, but it all flowed together well. Here’s a picture of their session for reference:

Extended Family Photo Variety OutfitsLook at the variety in their colors yet how wonderful it flows together!

The key is to try to have something in your outfit that ties you to at least one other person’s outfit. For example, you can see the dads have on blue shirts underneath to tie them to each other, the grandpa and one of the kids, the grandpa has tan pants which ties him to grandma, the dad with the cream sweater and the mom’s necklace and then the pink flowers on the other mom’s shirt tie her into the little girl’s pink shirt and the little boy’s reddish pants/suspenders – TONS of options and variety that looked AMAZING on camera without actually “matching” each other.

Here’s another example – as you can see, the mom’s dress and dad’s shirt match, but the girls’ outfits are much different. The little girl’s white shoes with the white top of her sister’s dress tie them together. While they don’t have blue to directly match their parents’ outfits, the color palette still compliments each other well because they are all slightly muted colors that look great in the same photo. I know it is very subtle, but I also like to think that the little girl in the pink's bright blue eyes tie them all back together too.

Here is one final example where you can see that each person has at least 1 element that coordinates them with another member of the family.

Beautifully dressed family photo sessionSee how their outfits each have at least one element that ties to another family member’s outfit?

I tell my clients to stop thinking of “matching” and start thinking of “coordinating”. Just like you wouldn’t paint your walls blue, install blue carpet, buy a blue couch, a blue TV stand and a blue coffee table, you don’t want everyone in your photo to be wearing the same color/shade. It looks dated and also just doesn’t flatter anyone in the photo (even if blue is your “best” color). Just one person wearing blue with a couple of others wearing blue accents is enough to make EVERY person with blue eyes POP – when everyone is wearing the same, everyone gets drowned out and the eyes go directly to the massive blue wave as opposed to your beautifully coordinated family.


Another key is to avoid toooo many patterns. It is OK for some of the outfits to have patterns - like the floral shirt the mom wore and the tan/lace dress the grandma wore in the first example, but you’ll notice that most of the rest of the outfits in that photo were solid colors – and you’ll notice I strategically placed them with a solid color outfit in between which allowed some breathing room between the patterns.


Famliy Photo Session Outfit ExamplesI like the layered textures in this family's wardrobe selection



Now – not to completely confuse you, but avoiding too many patterns is NOT to be confused with avoiding different textures! I love the look of layering textures either in one outfit or across a full setup. As you can see in this example the little girl has a fuzzy vest which is different than her leather boots, her mom’s sweater-texture vest and the dad’s button down shirt and denim pants. Lots of textures layered into a single shot, but it all comes together really nicely – don’t you think? 

I’ll share some additional examples of outfit color and texture combinations below. Hopefully this helps put a visual to the prep email you’ll receive before your family session, but if you have any questions or even if you want me to preview your outfits – don’t be afraid to reach out or send me your smartphone pic of the outfits laid out!

Green Bay Family Photo SessionBeautiful Fall Colors


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