Planning for fall photos!

It’s October – traditionally, my favorite month of the year – when you get that first cool breeze of relief from the summer heat (although September provided that this year!), leaves changing, apple treats, Halloween… what’s not to like?  But it’s also the time that is by far the busiest for a photography business; between next weekend and mid November I didn’t leave any free time for myself.  When I’m not otherwise at work, I’ll be out shooting and hoping I can squeeze in the post-processing during some free minutes here and there!

I do this because I want to make the most of this season, and meet with as many clients as I can.  And as part of making the most of it, I thought I’d share my own struggle with a common question, “What do we wear to our photo session?”

Sure, I can give advice, and I know some basic rules to follow.  Yet, when I try to do this myself for a family, I’m quickly reminded that it’s actually SO HARD!  (At least for me; some of you may find it easy and good for you!  I’m jealous.)   My sister lives in the metro area, and we usually do some pictures for her Christmas card, just like anyone else.  For the past 2 years, I’ve really gotten into the spirit of this and have tried to help plan for family’s wardrobe.  And it always takes so much more time than I think it will.  This year has been no different.  And it’s still a work in progress.

So, with so many sessions coming up, I’m sharing – just as an example – my process with this, and if you’re needing help, maybe you can pick up some tips on what to do (or maybe even what not to do if you don’t like where I go with this.  😉 )

I started by finding one piece that I liked, and built from there.  In this case, it was a mustard-colored sweater-cape from OCKidsCloset (a little Instagram shopping).  I then thought of 2 other colors that would work well with mustard, and tried to find items in those 3 colors – along with some neutral colors.  I’m trying not to put everyone in the same thing – not the same top or bottom colors all the way across – but I also don’t need to put every color on every person.

That’s basically the premise.  Sounds easy, right?  But why is it so hard?!

This is what I have so far – the colors are mustard, navy (or blue), and burgundy.   Nuetrals in creams, greys, or browns.  In addition to mom and dad, there are two girls (aged 9 and 4), and a 2-year-old boy.


The idea is that they look cohesive as a family but each person looks unique – no bodies running together.  The colors could have been brighter and/or lighter (I originally thought about mint, light pink, and navy), but you do want to avoid fluourescents – they reflect onto necks and faces.  When I get stuck, I find this blog post by Sarah-Beth Photography and Heather Kiesel to be a great re-read.  I have it in my FAQ session of this website, but I’ll share it – just click here.  It contains tons of information plus lots of pretty pictures to see, and some of their favorite places to shop.

That said, you don’t *have* to shop to pull together some outfits for family pictures!  Just go through the closets and see what you can find keeping these few things in mind – it doesn’t have to be perfect – in fact, my plans for outfits never really go completely as I had hoped!  In my case, I’m sending some suggestions and ideas to Mom and Dad and hopefully they can pull together something similar (or maybe different!), but I have been shopping for the kids (but that’s because I get carried away and can’t help myself.)

A few other thoughts that may help getting dressed go smoothly come picture day!  This summer we went to the beach, and took one evening aside for photos.  The 4-year-old has developed an aversion to skirts and dresses this year, and she cried when her grandmother pulled out a dress she wanted her to wear.  She got over her tears quickly, and although she completely rocked that dress on the beach with some twirls (here she is being adorable and saying, “I want one of just myself”)-

I didn’t want pictures to be a time of tears, so I made sure to put her in jeans that she would be comfortable in.  Also – I noticed during the time at the beach that she was trying to be so careful not to get any sand or water on her dress, even though we told her it was ok, and that may have been part of the sadness – having to dress up at this fun place to play.

I really do try to create a relaxed environment; everyone looks better when they genuinely are happy and relaxed and you get those sincere expressions.  So do what you can to make to make the kids feel at ease when you leave home.  So they know they won’t be ruining anything if they play in the leaves.  🙂

For the 9-year-old who is almost as tall as I am, I had to learn where to shop for preteens this year!  (I swear, it’s amazing – she was so much smaller just a short couple of years ago.)  She’s picky about what she likes, so I enlisted her to be my stylist and guided her towards some options, and she gave me a very short list (maybe 2 things) that the approved of out of the dozen or so I sent her.  But she’s excited about it, and that’s what I was hoping for.

Lastly, the 2-year-old – he gets no choice.  This is what’s good about a 2-year-old!  When he’s more interested in expressing himself through words about his clothing preferences and less interested in running amuck like some kind of tiny but fiercely reckless tornado, then maybe we’ll take his opinions into consideration.  For now we’ll just worry about trying to get him to do anything other than run in the opposite direction.

So, that’s my rather wordy blogpost on the whole what-to-wear issue, and how I understand how hard it can be.  I hope this helps someone!
I’m so looking forward to seeing so many great families over the next month and a half!





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[…] the post was a bit of stream-of-consciousness about my thought process in going through that.   (You can see that post here.) So I thought I’d do that again, but this time during the spring, a little less structured […]

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