What to Wear to a Fall Family Photo Shoot (And 3 things to avoid!)

5 tips to choose great family photo session clothes and 3 things to avoid. Bindu is a Birmingham area newborn and child photographer who specialized in love-filled portrait photography.

Once you’ve booked me for your fall family pictures, there is only 1 thing left to decide: what do we wear?? For me, this always seems overwhelming at first but I have learned that it doesn’t have to be! After taking family photos for myself EVERY MONTH for over 5 YEARS, I have learned that your family can look good without having to go through the hassle of shopping for 5 outfits every single time - there’s so much you can do using your own wardrobes to style your family. In my experience, the more preparation you do ahead of time, the more time and energy we have to capture those treasured and meaningful moments during the photo shoot.  Here are five tips to inspire your fall family photo outfits, along with three things to definitely avoid when choosing what to wear.



You want to feel and look your best, and one sure way to help with that is to prepare outfits ahead of time. That way you aren’t rushing and tearing through a pile of laundry searching for items the day of (been there, done that!). Make sure the pieces everyone wants to wear are clean—taken to dry cleaners if needed—fit properly, and have no visible tears or stains. If you’ll be doing outfit changes, hang clothes neatly and bring accessories in labeled Ziploc bags. Don’t forget about shoes! Make sure they are clean and go with the rest of the look.




When choosing your fall family photo outfits think about where your photos will be displayed in your home. If you use mostly cool colors in your home, wear colors that accent that color scheme. If you want to emote a cozy, familiar vibe for your casual living room or den, be sure to have that reflected in the outfits you choose by not going too formal.



color plus neutral family photo

Begin by choosing an outfit for the person hardest to dress or an amazing outfit you really want to have photographed. Let’s be honest, the person who is hardest to dress is Mom – so go ahead and figure out what you want first for once – it will make everything easier. Once that outfit is set, everyone else’s outfits should flow from the anchor outfit. This is amazingly helpful for two reasons. (1) the hardest person to dress is already done and (2) the anchor outfit gives great direction on what clothes everyone else will wear.



Looking at your anchor outfit, you will often have a great idea of what other colors will work for the rest of the family. However, to have a color scheme that make your photos really go from just fine to great is to make sure the colors are balanced proportionally and mixed between tops and bottoms. If the anchor outfit has a pattern, pull the colors from the patterns into everyone else’s outfit. However, if the outfit is mostly solid colors, there are two ways to make it look awesome. 


The safest way to make sure you get it right is using a neutral palette of cream, ivory or beige to go with the anchor outfit color and use the dominant color from your anchor outfit as a pop of color that shows up on several people in your family. It looks good pretty much every time but be careful mixing bright whites with creams – you don’t want one person to the be the odd man out in the photos.  If your anchor outfit is also neutral, you can decide to go all neural or you can add one pop of color to add a little visual interest.

colorful family photo outfits


 If you want to be a little more adventurous, choose 3 analogous colors on the color wheel in the same level of intensity (ex: warm earthy tones or cool jewel tones) as your anchor outfit. Make sure that EVERY person is wearing at least 2 of the 3 colors that you have chosen. With a more colorful palette, having three colors mixed throughout your family allows the look to be cohesive. A final tip about color-intense option – it’s best to avoid everyone wearing the same bottoms if you are going for a more colorful look so that it doesn’t go too matchy.



Once you have a color palette set, the fun begins! Playing with texture and fabric can add depth to your fall family pictures. Layering is a great way to achieve this: a billowy top paired with a structured jacket, a patterned oxford underneath a cozy solid colored sweater, burlap suspenders, faux fur vests, or patterned tights are all ways to incorporate texture. You don’t want to come off too two-dimensional, so be inspired by the season and layer up!


3 things to avoid in your fall family portraits:


  1. Uncomfortable clothing.

Chances are if you feel like your dress is a little too tight or your child finds their fancy picture clothes a bit itchy, it will show in the resulting photos. You want the moments captured to reflect an effortless ease, not unnatural uptightness. Your pictures should represent you and your family, not the family you think you need to present to the world. Forget all the trendy clothing styles and go with your strengths. Choose pieces that bring out the best in everyone.

2. Too many patterns!

Patterns have a tendency to draw the eye toward them; however if everyone is in a different print it quickly makes the shot look unpolished and messy. Minimize the business of your fall family photos by only having 1 or 2 distinct patterns and build your color palate around them. For example, try building everyone’s look around the colors in mom’s favorite floral dress or little brother’s favorite buffalo plaid shirt. Also, unless your pictures are being used for a sponsored ad, no logos; they can be distracting and take the focus off of you and your awesome family!

3. Too uniform and matchy.

Think about the people in your family: the way your daughter laughs without reserve, the way your spouse brings light into any room with their smile, or the way your newborn coos and giggles. Everyone brings their own personality to your family and you don’t want to erase that by putting everyone in the exact same outfit. It may be tempting (hey, less to think about right?), but the overall sentiment comes off flat, uninteresting, and dull. Instead, allow everyone to shine in their own way; keep in mind what brings out the best in each person and have that guide you when selecting pieces.

Remember, this shoot is of you and your family, so don’t get caught up in comparison or trying to imitate anyone else. The purpose of taking time out of your busy schedules for a family photo-shoot is to create a tangible way to hold onto the intangible: the feel of a sweater, the smell of crackling leaves, the sound of laughter bursting from a snaggle-toothed grin.


Contact me if you would have any questions of what to wear for your fall family session, I would LOVE to help you choose the best outfits for your family photo sessions.

Bindu is your Birmingham Newborn & Child Photographer. She creates love-filled portraits that you will treasure forever.