Stress Free Guide to Styling Your Family Session

Session Tips

Even as a photographer I know what it feels like to stress about styling your family for a session. Especially since my husband usually only wears all black!

It doesn’t surprise me that the biggest question that I get from clients is “What do we wear to our session?”

Here’s my version of a stress free guide to styling your family session so that you all are comfortable, looking your best and can remember this season of life for years to come!

Stay Comfy!

First thing that is important is stay comfortable! That doesn’t mean come sporting your sweat pants and baggy t-shirts. Make sure what you’re wearing fits, isn’t itchy or you don’t feel awkward in it. Also have what you wear fit the style of your session, the season, and the weather. If you aren’t comfortable it will show in your photos.

pregnant mother with her daughter and son posing for maternity pictures

Pick Your Colors 

Ideally, you are going to want to pick out what your “theme” or color palette of your session is. This could be anywhere from a fall family session, boho vibe session, or even earthy tones or cool tones. Choosing a color palette or theme can help you narrow down what types of colors to use in your outfits.

I recommend choosing about 3-4 colors and then you can include some patterns and/or solids with those colors. I tend to lean more towards neutrals and warm earthy colors. 

Neutral colors

Neutrals are going to be your black, gray, brown, navy, khaki and of course white! Each one of these could easily be matched with one another or with a different color. Here’s a quick palette to show what is considered a neutral color for clothing.

color palette that shows a variation of neutral colors to help style outfits

You can check out Fashion Neutral Colors for a bit more of an explanation and what you can match with them.

Warm Colors

Warm tones and colors are something I usually lean more towards. These include dark browns, mustard, berry and burnt oranges. Head over to The Sustainable Stylist for more on spring and fall warm colors.

palette of warm colors ranging from dark greens to dark reds to help style outfits

Coordinate, Don’t Match

I am the first one to admit that on Christmas morning my husband, myself and our two boys are in identical matching pjs. It’s a tradition we have and I love it! BUT unless we’re planning a Christmas session where we’ve got those identical pjs ready to go, we don’t have to have to match like that for family sessions.

Instead of matching we want to coordinate. Start with one outfit and then you can figure the rest out from there.I highly recommend starting with either mom, or the youngest in the family but it could be whoever you like as long as you have that first outfit.

Here’s an example of what I did for our pictures last year:

family of four with mom, dad, and two sons sitting on a couch dressed nicely in coordinating outfits for their fall family session.

I actually started with my oldest and picked out his top and then added the red pants. Of course i had to have the matching top for my youngest but he needed layers since it was cold out. I opted for the matching color long sleeve to go under the onesie and then black overalls. Overalls are always a classic look for any session! I chose black pants for my husband to match our youngest and then a cream top to bring together the white in the kids tops. For myself I chose black pants to match the family and then I went with a green top to compliment my hair and also as another holiday color. This way we all coordinated with out looking too matchy. 


Last but not least, don’t forget the shoes! Please don’t think of them as an afterthought or last minute. Shoes can tie together an outfit or do the complete opposite and not match the aesthetic of your family session. But don’t stress on shoes either, I’m always down for my families to wear sandals or even go barefoot!

Hopefully this guide has helped you with styling your family session. Feel free to follow check out my Portfolio to see how some of my families are styled.

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  1. Melinda lacek says:

    I love this! It’s nice to have a guide right in front of me so I have some peace of mind! I really love how you showed the color palettes and how it looked on your family! Will be staying tune for more tips!

  2. […] If you need help finding what you and your family are going to wear for your session, check out my blog on outfits here. […]

  3. […] Head over to my blog for some outfit ideas: Stress Free Guide to Styling Your Family Session […]