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Success for Fall Family Sessions!

Fall is coming! Really! That means Halloween, cooler weather, busting out your favorite flannels and… fall family portraits! Did you know fall is the most popular time of year to have family portraits taken? Families love those gorgeous colors that peep through in foliage for pictures!

But then comes the question – what do we wear?! I have done it, and I’m sure you’ve done it. Running through a store the night before pictures trying to coordinate your whole family’s wardrobe while praying everything is actually in stock in the sizes you need and cursing when its not! Let this be a guide for you for planning this year’s outfits (and a reminder to start shopping NOW!) Here are my top ten tips for success during your next session!

One of my favorite images from this gorgeous family session!

Tip #1: Start with yourself

If there is anything I know about moms, it is that we are often most critical of ourselves. Start with your outfit first. It is tempting to wear something baggy to hide areas that we maybe feel insecure about, but it is truly best to wear something more form fitting. Your photographer can use angles that are flattering for you. But the most important thing is to find something that makes you feel good! Take a few full-length selfies in the mirror and make sure you love your head-to-toe look before committing to it (or any other outfits that coordinate with it!)

We based Dad and Son's look around Mom's for this one. Doesn't she look amazing?!

Tip #2: The patterns to solids ratio

Some photographers will tell you not to use patterns at all, as it can be distracting to the eye. This can be true, but I believe it is purely preference and if done correctly, patterns can be beautiful! Here is my golden rule if you want pattern usage! Take the number of people in your family, divide by 2. If an odd number, round down. So, if you have a family of 4-5, only two people should wear a pattern. When planning outfits, move on to patterns next! It is so much easier to match to pattern then the other way around. And of course, if you decide you'd rather stick with solids, that is totally fine too!

This family had a great usage of pattern and colors!

Tip #3: Not too “matchy-matchy”

Matching can get tricky. There are scenarios where full-on matching can be adorable (looking at you Christmas jammies!). But in general, for outdoor fall photographs, you will want a little variance. Instead of the whole family wearing the same white shirt with jeans, try mixing it up. Maybe Dad wears jeans, Mom wears a jean jacket, and the daughter wears a jean jumper. Try to have a secondary “main” color and then you can also weave in an accent color. So, in this above example, Dad could wear a white shirt, Mom could wear a patterned white and yellow dress under the jacket, and daughter could wear a yellow bow and white shoes to tie the two looks together. An exception to this would be matching siblings – in my opinion this is always adorable for small children, as long as mom and dad’s looks can tie it all together!

Brothers matching for the win, but Mom and Dad keep it neutral, while still tying in the jeans!

Tip #4: Dress for the weather

Wow is this one tricky in the Midwest! We have 90 degree “fall” days, and it can be 50 degrees the next morning! How do you plan for that?! It is my suggestion to families that they find an outer layer for each person in the family that can go with their outfits, but they you don’t necessarily “need” to tie look together. Yes, this is annoying to have to plan yet one more thing, but when it is freezing on your photo day, you’ll want to be prepared, or you’ll risk having little icicle children sad in all the pictures! Another option would be bringing coats along and taking them on and off for photos!

This family of five looked so adorable with their layers!

Tip #5: Find out how much you’ll be walking during your session and plan appropriately for shoes

Moms this one is for you! Heels can be amazing for portraits, but are you going to be walking in grass first thing in the morning when the ground is damp, soft and muddy? Yikes! Find out from your photographer what the terrain is like and how much you’ll be walking. Make sure you will be comfortable with whatever the outcome! And make sure you are okay with your kids getting their shoes muddy too!

We sometimes walk through beautiful landscapes!

Tip #6: Approach trends carefully

Clothing trends can absolutely be photographed for your session! It really is a personal preference. But before you choose something super trendy, ask yourself if you will still like this in a year. Ideally you will hang these photos on your wall – is this something that is timeless enough to make it longer than a few months or even years? When given the choice between a trend or something classic, I will often choose the more classic option. I don’t want to be sick of a trend, and then be sick of my portraits.

Blues and neutrals are so timeless!

Tip #7: Be mindful of accessories

Accessories can really make or break an outfit! Just be mindful of what you are wearing and realize your photographer is looking at your faces, and often won’t catch if your necklace is a little crooked. For minis especially, we are under an enormous time constraint, and we can’t fixate on everything as much as we would like. Try to wear accessories that do not need a lot of maintaining. So, for that necklace that has to be laying just right or for that hat your son keeps taking off and messing up his hair, maybe leave those things at home this time.

Mom rocked her hat for this session! Keep the accessories you love, and ditch the ones that could cause a headache.

Tip #8: Bring the essentials

Besides outfits, make sure you bring the three essentials! Water, bug spray and bribes! Snacks are a great bribe and sometimes necessary to get smiles out of very small children! Your snack should be colorless – leave the M&Ms and suckers at home, or you’ll have crazy-colored mouths in pictures. Small animal crackers, white marshmallows, apple slices, and other snacks without many crumbs are a great choice. And if you are bringing a family pet, make sure to bring a leash and treats!

You can't tell it here, but many Veggie Straws were consumed this session, haha!

Tip #9: It is all about that light

95% of the time, when a photographer is getting ready to pose you, we aren’t looking at you at all. We are looking at the light. Where do we need to put you to utilize natural light to make you look your best? When you pose yourself or want to use a certain location, we totally understand that you might want a specific thing, and we try to make you happy! But we also know where you are going to look best, so we might advise we skip the wide-open field under the bright, noon sun.

We position you to get that yummy light!

Tip #10: Have fun!

Family portraits can be stressful, from the outfit planning to trying to make everyone look their best right before, to arriving and praying the toddlers don’t have a meltdown. With three kids, believe me, I absolutely get it! But something I try to tell myself before each session is “it is what it is”. If my kids cry, well, that’s how they were that day. Everyone has their moments, right? And some of the crying pictures have made the back of our Christmas cards before! I wind up looking at those moments fondly. Remember, your photographer is a pro! Even when you think that a session went terribly, we often catch moments that you didn’t even know happened! We are really good at getting sneaky smiles! Remember, we want nothing more than to capture smiles and we try very hard to get them! But I also like giving the “real life” pictures too. I want to capture your now, your family right now, in all their smiles, giggles, growing pains, and the real emotions. Keep your expectations low, try to have fun, keep a sense of humor and everything will turn out okay. Promise!

This session was pure chaos (don't worry, Mom would agree haha!) but look at the result! She didn't think I got anything.

That’s it! My ten tips for success! When you’ve hired me, remember, I’ll always help with styling! Clients send me pictures of outfits all the time for me to help decide what will look best. Styling is included with EVERY session, including minis!

If you still need to book your session, please fill out the form on my website under contact!

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