Choosing a Color Palette for your Fall Family Photos | Northern Virginia Family Photographer

I've noticed that styling outfits for a family photo session is probably the biggest stressor for clients. And I'll fully admit, since having children, I feel like I've lost touch with what "the kids are wearing" and what's in. So while I'm no fashion guru, I do have an understanding of color theory and what photographs well.

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When you're having your fall family photographs taken, think about the colors in the outdoor setting around you. Hopefully we've set your session for peak color, so there should be oranges, reds and golden yellows around you. From there, you can check out the color wheel to the right and see that opposite to golden yellows are navy blues and purples. Your family would definitely pop against yellow leaves in those tones. 

Neutrals also work against almost any backdrop, and always look timeless. Neutrals can be anything from white, ivory, cream, tan, khaki, mocha, camel, brown, grey, black, denim, and sometimes even blush pinks or olive greens. I truly don't think there can be too many neutrals in a palette.

Not sure where to start? Pick 2-3 main colors. There should be elements of these colors in everyone's outfits. From there, pick some neutrals. A lot of times, neutrals will be the blueish tone of denim, a khaki or brown, blacks and grays, or a toned down version of the main colors that you chose. Lastly, pick 1-2 pops of color. These accent colors tend to be bright and vibrant and oftentimes are the most visible element tying the photos together. When choosing a color scheme, consider the season, setting, and where you'll display the images in your home. 

Some classic fall color combinations

Some classic fall color combinations

Here are some general rules for picking clothing for a family photo session:

  1. Start with one piece. To get the ball rolling, start with one outfit that you really love, and build the other outfits around that. Matching is out, coordinating is in.

  2. Layer, layer layer! This adds dimension and depth to your images.

  3. Fit. Purchase clothes that fit now. I know, if I'm buying a fall sweater for my son from Janie and Jack, I want to get as much wear out of that ridiculously priced piece of clothing as possible. But I beg of you, buy your child's current size. Rolled up sleeves and pant legs end up looking sloppy and undone in your final images.

  4. Dress for the weather. Be prepared with a flexible wardrobe in case you have to switch it up at the last minute. If your child is burning up in a sweater, he won't be happy and we won't be able to get images that you will cherish forever.

  5. Footwear. Shoes are such an important part of the wardrobe. Imagine your daughter dressed to the nines for the family shoot, but with her light up paw patrol shoes on. It causes the entire look to lose cohesion. My recommendation for shoes are boots, leather sandals, Converse All-Stars, Toms, Sperrys, and Mary Janes. Also, weather and setting-permitting, barefoot is always an adorable option, especially with babies.

  6. Let Your Child's Personality Shine! Allow your child's personality to shine through in what they’re wearing. If your daughter has a favorite pair of boots, let her wear them (at least in a few pictures). Whatever makes your child their own amazing self, let’s focus on those things.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

This family nailed it for their Christmas shoot with plenty of neutrals (cream, tan, browns and olive) with pops of a bright Christmas-y red.

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Check out this coordination, mom and dad wore olive green and dark navy, and let the kids pop with a beautifully textured velvet dress and the quintessential fall mustard yellow. Nailed it!

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

Mom did a great job pulling colors from this little one’s dress for everyone else’s outfits.

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!

You can’t go wrong with neutrals, this family is picture perfect for their holiday card!