When I hired a photographer to take portraits of my family in December I found that the most stressful part was deciding on the outfits that all 8 of my family members would wear.

Here we are, in the outfits I picked out. We coordinated without matching; the modern way to take family photos. I chose a color scheme of blues, tans, and blacks, with my grandmother wearing a pattern so she stands out the most. {Photo by Emily Plank Photography}

At the time we took this photo and I was really stressing out about our outfits, I realized that I needed to find a way to alleviate this same stress from my own clients and came up with two methods that will simplify the process and that I think will be super helpful for you. Here they are:

1. The “Match the Couch” Method

First of all, when you hire a photographer, you’re hiring an artist to create custom artwork for your home that features your amazing family! In this regard you have the ability to customize what those images look like by choosing a location and outfits that match the style of your home.

Before your session you should start to think about the rooms in which you’d like to decorate and use those rooms as your outfit inspiration.

I highly recommend that you take the color and style of your home into consideration when choosing the outfits you’ll wear to your upcoming portrait session. The colors you choose to wear will effect the overall look and feel of the photograph because color is an integral part of an artwork.

This is where the phrase “match the couch” comes into play…

If you’d like to display your family portraits in your living room and your living room has tan walls with white trim, brown leather couches and light turquoise accent colors in the curtains and throw pillows, you should try to incorporate those colors into your outfits. Here’s an example of how you could do that: Dad wears khaki’s and a light turquoise shirt, Mom wears a cream colored maxi dress and brings a brown scarf, your son wears brown pants and a white shirt, while your daughter wears a turquoise dress. Perfect!

Here’s another example: You want to decorate your dining room which is styled in navy blue, gray and white. Mom wears a navy blue dress, Dad wears Blue jeans and a gray shirt, son wears gray pants and a white shirt, daughter wears a white and gray striped dress. Awesome!

See how easy that is? Try to mix and match colors that coordinate with the room (or match the couch!) so that your custom portrait art will fit perfectly into your home!


This family chose a wonderful palette of pinks, whites, blues and tans!


2. Match colors to one persons patterned outfit

Another way you can choose outfits is by basing all of the outfits off of one persons pattern. I don’t recommend having multiple family members in different patterns as it will cause your portrait art to look busy and be distracting. But having one family member in a pattern can be very beautiful! In this case I recommend basing all of your families outfits around one persons pattern.

One way I usually see this is with a flannel shirt. Who doesn’t love a nice flannel for those fall family photos?! If Dad wants to wear a flannel shirt made up of the colors White, Navy blue, Light Blue and Brown, then the rest of your family should wear single-colored dresses or shirts that are of those same colors. This way you’ll all be wearing different colored outfits that are pulled together through the pattern in Dads shirt. 

Here’s another example: What if Mom has a beautiful floral dress in a cream color with pinks and blues? Awesome! Mom should wear that dress while the rest of the family wears outfits that incorporate those colors. 



These sisters matched their sweaters to their brothers flannel shirt for a great fall color palette!


Now, these aren’t the only methods you could use to choose the perfect outfits, but hopefully they’re a good starting point for you to generate some ideas! 

More Tips:

Keep it simple.

Layering is a great way to create a dynamic a more dynamic range of images by being able to pull off a sweater, jacket, or hat, and mix and match throughout your portrait session.

Avoid: shirts with large brand logos or graphics, bold patterns, and outfits with very small repetitive patterns or pinstripes that can create moire in photos.

Don’t forget to: Iron and Lint Roll outfits, Match your belt to your shoes if applicable, and bring accessories.

Accessories that double as props are excellent! A bowtie, flowers in your hair, hats, scarves, jean jackets that can be thrown over a shoulder, etc.


fall family photos

Monarch Butterfly Family Photos



I hope you found this blog post helpful! Next, you should head over to this blog post about how to manage expectations at a family portrait session!