Portrait Style Guide: For Groups & Families

Coordinating the Crew
As you’re planning outfits for your family, coordinate your color palette and wardrobe pieces, but if possible, don’t actually “match” outfits (especially with older kids). For timeless photos, think about what “fits” together.

How to Mix Colors
Break up colors and shades so that you’re not all wearing the same color on top and bottom. The more you can mix that up, the better. Plan each outfit with “dominant colors” and “accent colors” in mind.

A good starting point is for mom to choose her outfit first, and then build the rest of the family’s outfits based around that. Here’s one example:

Mom wears a blush dress, light blue earrings and nude shoes (blush is dominant)

Dad wears a navy coat with a white button-down and gray pants, with brown leather shoes and maybe even a blush pocket square (navy is dominant)

Daughter wears a light blue top with a white tulle skirt (light blue is dominant)

Son wears khaki pants, navy suspenders and a white button down (white is dominant)

I love pairing natural-looking bold colors and neutral colors because they fit beautifully into a natural environment, and can easily be combined in so many different ways.

Mixing Pieces
If you have multiple kids, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress and flats, while the other wears a skirt and boots. One of your sons could wear a bow tie, while the other one wears suspenders. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces brings visual interest to your photos.

Prepping Little Ones
Here are my three handy tips for physically and mentally preparing little ones to cooperate for an hour:

  1. Pack a survival bag. Before your session, pack a bag with snacks, water and any small objects (like toys or lollipops) that might help me get their attention when it’s time for them to look at the camera.

    Tip: One of the handiest things you can bring is a bag of baby wipes for quickly removing food crumbs and boogies from little faces.

  2. Choose a reward in advance. If they are old enough to understand you, it’s a good idea to prepare them for what’s to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behavior. A lot of families pick a fun treat in advance as a reward if they’re good listeners, like going out for ice cream.

  3. Food and rest. Kids are always happiest and most willing to cooperate when their bellies are full and they’re well-rested.

And for parents, my advice is to give them (and yourself!) some grace. As a mom, I know that many days with small children don’t go as planned. And truth be told, I think the most well-appreciated photographs are the ones that capture young children being their actual selves.

My number one goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as possible for you and your family, so please—let yourself enjoy this time.