Without a doubt, fall is the most popular time of year to book a family photo session. And if you’re feeling even a tiny bit stressed about your fall family photos, it might not be related to finding a photographer, making sure all the kids’ eyes are open, or even printing them in time for holiday cards. The real struggle lies in one question: “How do I pick fall family photos outfits for the entire crew?”
Between my years planning photoshoots as a style blogger and the times I’ve been on the other side of the camera photographing family and friends, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks for picking clothes that look great on camera.
Below, I’m sharing a step-by-step guide for choosing fall family picture outfits. Plus, three professional family photographers spill their tips and tricks for making the absolute most of your fall photo session!
How to Choose Fall Family Photos Outfits
1. Know Where You’ll Be Shooting
Check in with your photographer on what your location options are before you think about clothing. Will you be barefoot in beach photos? In front of a building downtown with beautiful architecture? Outdoors in a field or at a farm? These will all impact the vibe of the photos and therefore the clothes that look best in the setting.
2. Have a Color Palette in Mind
There are endless ways you could go with this! In my experience, softer, muted hues look best on camera, but a skilled photographer will be able to capture prints and dark hues if you want something truly seasonal. To simplify your choices, I’ve broken it down into four fall family photo palette options.
Beachy Neutrals: Shades of ivory, cream, and white on their own or paired with denim (for all).
Coordinated Print: One subtle print paired with coordinating solids (you in print, guys and kiddos solids).
Muted Tones: Creams, blushes, blues, and tans (on the girls) paired with denim, khaki, and browns (on the guys).
Fall Colors: Muted yellows, tans, and creams or reds, burgundies, or jewel tones (on the girls), which pair well with denim, khaki, and plaid (on the guys).
3. Start with Your Outfit
Your children will look adorable in whatever you choose, so I recommend starting with your look first. Dresses and skirts are flattering on every female body, and they photograph beautifully because of the movement and drape. However, don’t go to billowy—a more fitted cut is your friend! Thick layers, including scarves, cardigans, and chunky knit sweaters, can also look unflattering on camera. Midi and maxi dresses and skirts aren’t a hard and fast rule, though. If you love denim, go for it! Wear whatever you feel your best in as confidence translates on camera
4. Select Coordinating Colors
Once you’re all set with your perfect outfit, choose 2-3 coordinating colors for the rest of the family. Consider tones that fit together and are in the same color family—you can use the four color scheme options I listed earlier to start. If you’re wearing a patterned dress, for example, pull 1-3 coordinating colors from that and build your spouse’s and littles’ outfits off of it. This will break up the shades visually so that the photo doesn’t look too redundant top to bottom. Keep in mind that it can be helpful to consider your home decor if you plan to frame these family portraits for the walls.
5. Dress Your Man
When it comes to putting together your guy’s outfit for family pics, I recommend fitted pants, closed-toed shoes, and layers. Men look great in layers. Look at any male mannequin at the mall and you’ll see what I mean. A blazer, sport coat, vest, or even a v-neck sweater with a collared button down underneath looks handsome because it draws attention to the face. This may take convincing if it’s still hot where you live, but tell him the discomfort is worth it because you’ll have the photos for years! Brown leather dress shoes will compliment every look, and ties, belts, suspenders, watches, bowties, and other accessories will bring his—and your boys’—outfits up a notch.
5. Blend (Don’t Match) the Kiddos
This is key! Your outfits will look cohesive on camera and the photos will be timeless if you coordinate family members’ looks rather than get matchy-matchy. Plan each outfit combo with dominant and accent colors in mind. If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them in the same outfit. Mixing up the pieces will bring interest to the photo and can help express their individual personalities. As a general rule, avoid having anyone wear the same color top/pants/dress and putting anyone in matching outfits.
Examples of the Four Palettes
Photographer Tips for Fall Family Pictures
If there’s anyone to look to for making the most of your fall family photos, it’s the pros. I’m so honored that three of my professional photographer friends agreed to contribute their best tips and tricks for amazing family photography. Read below for their take on everything from choosing the right photographer to enjoying the session and dressing the part!
Sara Coffin on Realistic Expectations & Trust
“My best tip for taking great family photos with little kids is keeping a realistic set of expectations. If you go into the session expecting a ton of perfect photos, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Kids have short attention spans; they’re not going to give you or your photographer much time with posed shots. Attempt those photos first but if it goes south faster than you planned, take a breath and know there’s still plenty of magic to be had in more organic moments. When they start to get wiggly, walk with them, tickle them, swing them, twirl them, snuggle them. All these make for great natural photo opps and show genuine connection between you and your family. Also: Trust your photographer. If you hire someone with a proven, consistent style you can rest easy knowing they’re making magic no matter what.”
Arielle Levy on Picking a Photographer, Candids, & Color Choices
“The top tip I have for an amazing family photoshoot is to pick a photographer that matches your style! If you love candid photos make sure you pick a photographer that has this alignment (tip- if you have young, wild kids- candids are gorgeous and a photographer that can manage this is important). Take a few photos looking at the camera, and then loosen up and have fun. Always keep moving with each click of the camera so your photographer has options. The best shots often are in between moments.
I’ll leave the styling tips to Natalie, but the best family styles are the ones that don’t “perfectly” match. Pick 3 tones that flow together, I love soft neutral colors or deep jewel tones for fall. Personally I prefer when people avoid primary colors. For example, let’s use: beige, white, and mauve. Use these tones and mix and match patterns.
Put Dad in beige pants, brown loafers and white shirt. Mom in a mauve dress and beige boots. Daughter in a mauve plaid dress with white shoes or boots. Son in a beige striped shirt and cream jeans and brown shoes.”
Amber Beasley on Try Ons, Where to Shop, & a Pre-Shoot Checklist
“My goal is for the session to be as fun and stress-free as possible! I recommend finding a style that’s authentic to your family but feels special at the same time. Start with your outfit, then choose 2-3 coordinating colors. My clients love my light and airy look, but a lot of that is achieved by what they wear: muted neutrals like blush, mauve, cream, peach, sage, and dusty blue.”
“Also, don’t wait to try on the clothes until the day before! Do this in advance so you can switch it up if something isn’t working. Move around to make sure the outfit works for lifestyle photos—there’s nothing worse than a gorgeous v-neck that gapes wide open as you cuddle and tickle your kiddos. My favorite stores to shop for fall family photos outfits are Baltic Born (women’s dresses), Jessakae, Ivy City Co., Free People, H&M, Zara, Amazon, and Bella Ella Boutique.”
“And here’s a portrait session checklist that helps my clients feel as prepared as possible for the session: schedule hair and makeup appointments (if going the professional route), choose your outfits ahead of time, get your nails done, and pack a bag with flats for walking between spots, any props, a water bottle, snacks for your little ones, and eye-catching toys to grab your kids’ attention.”
There you have it! I hope this guide helps you feel confident in choosing fall family photos outfits for your entire crew that will look timeless on your walls for years to come. Keep in mind that I share a more earth-toned looks and dressy styles elsewhere on the blog, like here and here, on Instagram, and in the Shop, so pop over there for more outfit inspiration to get your wheels turning!