Tuesday, December 2, 2014

How to dress for family pictures

A friend of mine asked me to do a post about coordinating outfits for a family picture. It's no easy task!! In fact, I stress out about it so much that I start the process at least a few weeks before our scheduled picture. Heck, I figure if we are paying a photographer to have professional pictures, I want them to turn out well enough to frame them around the house. We do one family shoot a year, so it's super important to me, that they turn out well! I promise, it will be worth the time you put into doing it right.


1. The most important tip is to make sure that YOU are happy with your outfit. I'm serious. If mom's not happy, ain't nobody gonna be happy. Because let's be real, friends, most guys are not picking out the pictures, and if they are, they aren't nearly as picky! Start with a piece of clothing that you love and work from there. For example, we just had our family pictures taken and I based the entire photo shoot around a scarf that I found. From Ross, no less! I really loved the colors and I thought they'd be bright and fun for a fall photo shoot.

2. Work around 2-3 colors and then select one color to pop. In our family pictures, I was working with greys, navys, and a fushia. My "pop" color was mustard and I added it both in my jeans and in the pattern on Molly's dress. That will add visual interest to the picture.

3. A good way to find colors that go well together, is to shop at the same store. For example, Target clothes all seem to have the same shade of fushia, navy and grey (that's where I got the majorty of my kids' clothes for the picture). Carter's, Oshkosh, Old Navy are all good places to shop where you can find a wide variety of clothes in a range of sizes.

4. Have a mixture of different patterns and textures. Looking back on it, I almost wish I'd added a vest to Jake, just to give his outfit more depth. We have stripes, plaids, geometric shapes, hearts, and plain, all in one. As long as you are staying in the same color palatte, it's good to add pattern!! And layer, layer, layer! It adds visual interest, as well.


5. Avoid too much busy-ness. Although pattern is good, it can get to be too much if you aren't careful. If I put one boy in plaid, I'll try to do the other in a thin strip or plain top. I'm not a huge fan of mixing different plaids. If you want to do a matching plaid, I feel like that looks okay, but two different busy plaid patterns, takes away from the picutre, in my opinion. If you really have your heart set on boys in plaid, you can break up the pattern like I did with Brett, by throwing a sweater on one, or using a vest or sweater vest. That way, your plaids aren't overwhelming. I know it's hard to find a lot of other options that are dressy for little boys.


6. Stay away from white near the face unless everyone is in it. I didn't know this until I talked to my photographer friend who said it's hard to not have the person in white's face blown out in the picture. Adjusting other colors with white, can be difficult. If you have a white top that you love, add a scarf around the neck, or put it under a jacket or cardigan with color.

7. Pay attention to your shoes! I learned this the hard way, after a family photo shoot a couple years ago. If someone has dirty, scuffed up or torn up shoes, they WILL show and you WILL regret it! Most people don't give a lot of thought to shoes, but they can draw attention away from a cute outfit, so make sure you are happy with the shoes that, especially your kids, are wearing.


8. Think about your outfits from all angles and heights. Often, a photographer will want you to sit down on a blanket, or lift children up. If your outfit isn't conducive to that, you may not be happy with the way your pictures turn out. Even from the back, do you like what you are wearing? How about your hair? Some of my favorite pictures are ones where we are walking away. If you are unhappy with the way your outfit looks from any angle other than facing foward, it might be a good idea to rethink it.

9. Spend time thinking about the details: hair, fingernails, make-up, earrings, etc. I'm telling you, they make a difference! If your nails are chipped and you aren't happy with your hair, you won't  love your pictures. Take the time to either get your hair done or have someone help you, if you aren't a pro. You will be glad you did, I promise!

10. Realize that kids are kids, and no matter how hard you work to make them look good for the picture, they are bound to get dirty, wet, etc. My kids showed up to our last photo shoot, looking like sweet angels. Molly's hair was in perfect curls and their clothes were ironed and clean. Mid-way through the shoot, I looked over at Molly and her curls had completely fallen out, all of them had dirt on their knees and clothes and it wasn't how I imagine. I just had to smile and realize, that's our life. It will be a good memory to look back and rememeber the time when our boys were rolling in the wet leaves, Molly tripped and fell while running and Brylie wouldn't sit still for even a second. In the moment, it's frustrating, but looking back, it makes me smile. Pictures capture moments in our life to remember, and it wouldn't be right to remember perfection, because we are far from it!

Have fun with your family pictures. And remember, it's worth it to take the time to make them just right! XOXO


  1. I found the perfect sweater for Cam...for NEXT year's pictures. Seriously, the day after we took this year's! LOL! I love planning picture outfits! Your colors this year are AMAZING! They came out great!

    1. You are so smart to think ahead! And thank you! I love the blue/green combo from yours!

  2. I need you to style my family! It stresses me out be there are only four of us! Btw... Do you spray tan... Or are you pregnant ;) you have a nice glow! I love the pictures!

    1. Ha! Oh my goodness...neither! I haven't spray tanned in about 4 years and I'm definitely not pregnant! You crack me up!

  3. Kelly I am enjoying your blog so much since finding it. You have great perspective on life and it is helping me to accept that while life is overwhelming at times because of all the crazyness of having kids, one day the house will be quiet and I will look back at that time and will be sorry that it is gone!! You have a beautiful family :)