LIFEStyle Guide

A session should portray more than just smiling faces and style, it should portray a lifestyle.  What does that mean? Well what do you and your family do that brings out the best in you and makes you, well you!?

Below I will be going over not only wardrobe style, but what you can do to help me as you photographer to make your family session a memorable and joyful experience. By doing so I will be better able to capture the best in your family photos!

Let's first talk about wardrobe. Coordinating outfits for family photos can sometimes be tricky! Follow these helpful hints to make your session style flow smoothly from person to person.


  1. VARYING COLORS: Stick with 2 - 3 colors max and make that the theme of your wardrobe. If your colors are blue, gray and green it's okay to wear different shades of each color, just stick with the overall color scheme.
  2. HOW TO ALTERNATE COLOR THROUGHOUT WARDROBES: Scatter your color choices. By this I mean alternate where on the body each color appears from person to person. In other words, avoid the idea that it's twin day at school! Avoid everyone in dark jeans and a light shirt (dark on top light on bottom). The photo will flow much better if you alternate... Example: your son wears a light blue and white striped shirt and brown jeans, dad wears a beige button up shirt and dark  jeans, and mom wears a dark blue sweater over a light blue and white striped dress with brown boots.  
  3. ACCENT COLORS AND PATTERNS: Want some extra flare? Accent your color scheme with an additional color or a specific pattern. Choose a few people to wear those patterns or colors. If one person is wearing a polka dot dress maybe someone else can wear a polka dot scarf. Or if someone is wearing a purple bow in their hair maybe someone else can wear purple earrings.
  4. COMPLIMENT YOUR ENVIRONMENT: Be aware of your surroundings and the time of year. Are you going to be surrounded by the darker green and brown tones of the redwoods or the airy blue and sandy colored pastels of the beach? What is the typical temperature for the time of year you are shooting? Is it summer where a sun dress is appropriate or winter where you want to bundle up and layer? Are you going for a look with rich earthy tones, warm fabrics and layers (sweaters, scarves etc) or a look that is more bright sunny cheerful and summery? 
  5. LAYERING CLOTHING: Speaking of layers... use them! Layering your clothing adds depth and interest to any outfit. Sweaters, scarves, vests, socks peeking out of boots etc... lots of options here especially for the popular time of fall family photos.
  6. AVOID BRANDING: Avoid clothing with logos or words on them (just a rule of thumb). If you are trying to get a message accross like "I'm going to be a big brother" or "I'm turning one" consider using a sign or prop instead that cannot be wrinkled or hidden and therefore unreadable with movement and varying angles.
  7. COMFORT: Be comfortable. As much as we want you looking your best, don't wear something too out of the ordinary that you might feel self conscious in.
  8. THE PLAN FOR THESE PHOTOS: What is the purpose of the shoot and what do you plan on doing with your images after the session? Will they be going in a photo album, out for holiday cards, or being blown up and hung on the wall in your home? If you do plan on putting a photo on a wall in your home, maybe style your outfits according to the look feel and colors of the room you plan to hang the photo up in. If it's for a holiday card do you want your family to wear the reds and greens that go along with the holiday season?
  9. THE PERFECT FIT: Your daughter might have the cutest dress that she aaaaalllmost fits into. But the sleeves go past her hands and she is swimming in it overall. Save this for a different session. Please make sure, with children especially, that clothing fits appropriately. This might compromise an otherwise good family photo.
  10. EMPTY YOUR POCKETS: Please remind all family members (especially males) to take phones and wallets out of their pockets before our session. They will not be needing them for the next hour or so anyway ;) Girls please remember to take hair-ties off of your wrists. 
  11. ONE LAST CHECK: Before the session begins double-check hair, makeup, and crumbs on the mouth for the kiddos (baby wipes are a good thing to bring along for this). We can adjust accordingly as we go, but these are useful things to remember right before we begin!

So as far as outfits, colors and color placement go, here are a few examples of good flow in family photos:



  1. PREP THE FAMILY: As much wardrobe styling as you can do, if we don't have happy mindsets going into a session, the experience and the photos are not going to be exceptional. So get your family excited about the session! Maybe dad likes giving your son piggy back rides, or your daughter likes to cuddle. This is a great time for any and all family activities you do that bring your family members joy. Not only do I want the photos to appear joyful, but I want the experience to be joyful as well. So ask yourself what would you do if you were taking your family to the park? Don't be afraid to bring along a favorite toy as a prop, maybe a favorite board game, even bread to feed the ducks. A lot of families promise their kids a special experience after, but what about during? Get them excited about exactly what will happen in our session and they too will be able to be in the moment!
  2. AVOID HANGRY. Bring a drink or a satisfying snack (I typically recommend this for my hour sessions). Make sure everyone is hydrated and has eaten and (for the littles) that they have used the potty before our session begins!
  3. HELP ME HELP YOU: Maybe dad does a great donald duck impression that makes your kids crack up laughing!? If so tell me, I will know when to request the giggles to begin. 
  4. BE IN THE MOMENT: You have a free pass to sit back, relax, and enjoy! Basically I am taking over mom duty for a while! So as your photographer please leave it to me to direct someone who isn't looking at the camera or whose hair needs to be fixed.  I cannot tell you how many photos I have seen where a child is giving me the most adorable expression, but there is a parent in the photo pointing at their other kid to look at the camera. I love the look of candids so if everyone isn't looking at me at exactly the same time I'm totally okay with this. Obviously we will get the "money shot" where everyone is smiling and looking, but we will be patient for it. So with that said, please don't worry about what anyone else is doing, be in the moment with your family and enjoy what you are witnessing or what you are feeling personally (these expressions are the types I will be looking to capture).