5 Tips for Styling Family Photos

Family photos are like exercise to me. In the end, I’m glad I did it, but I don’t always enjoy the process. Our twenty-minute mini-sessions usually involve cranky kids, a spouse who isn’t all that invested, and a mom who, when it is all done, wants either a drink or a nap. Or both.

The one part of family photos I do enjoy are choosing what we are going to wear. I have been fairly diligent about taking family photos once a year so I have a few go-to tricks on how to easily put together outfits for the entire family. Side note: I feel like I need to put a disclaimer in here that I am not a professional stylist and that these are simply my personal tips, but this post is only about clothes and not medical advice, so it’s really not that serious.

Tip 1: Start with the Females in the Family

The base of my coordination usually starts with an outfit for my daughter or myself since generally girl clothes have more variety. We are also more likely to be in a print and it’s easier to pull different colors from that print for the rest of us to wear. I think you can totally mix and match prints, but more on that later. The last two years, I found a dress for my daughter and built the rest of our outfits off of it. Three years ago, I used one of my dresses. Generally, if Lucy is wearing a dress with a print, I lean towards a solid dress and visa versa. I either choose a color that I know I will find easily or already have in my closet.

A family of four Posing for a family photo.
Lori Starkey Photography

Tip 2: Layer the boys up

When it comes to my son, I always keep an eye out for corduroy pants. They come in a variety of colors and I like to add different fabric textures. One year I found orange corduroy pants that went well with our colors. You can find corduroy pants in dark green, navy, maroon, gray, brown, camel… you get my point. This year I broke my corduroy trend as my husband wore jeans and my son wore khakis.

Another go-to trick with my son is putting him in a vest over either white long-sleeve button up or plain white shirt. My son loves vests and for our Houston winters they can’t be beat so I know if I buy one for photos it won’t go to waste. Layering clothes, especially for boys who I think are harder to style than girls, is more interesting way to dress them than simply a shirt and pants.

A family of four Posing for a family photo on the front lawn.
Be Wild Photography

Tip 3: Mixing Prints and Shopping

I love when people mix prints! I am, admittedly, not that great at it, but last year I did put my son in a plaid shirt and my daughter in a floral dress. I think it can take more work and can be more expensive to mix prints well which is probably why I shy away from it. If you want to mix prints, I think it’s easier if you stay in the same store. Old Navy, Janie and Jack, and GAP for example, usually have the same color palette throughout the store during a particular season.

A boy wearing a plaid button down and a girl wearing a floral dress pose for family photos.
Lori Starkey Photography

Tip 4: Oh yeah, Dad.

Don’t forget about Dad! Once I have settled on everyone else’s outfit, I grab a pair of  khaki or navy chinos and then scan his button up shirts to see which one fits best with what the rest of us our wearing. It’s usually pale blue.

A family of four pose for a family photo with the son on the father's knee and the daughter on the mother's knee.
Lori Starkey Photography

Tip 5: Lay It Out and Be Yourself

Lay your clothes out and snap a quick picture with your phone. You’ll know when you look at it if the look works or not and if not, what changes you will want to make.

A Stack of outfits for family photos laying on the bed.

At the end of the day, wear something that feels like you and is comfortable. It is more likely you get fun, relaxed family photos if you aren’t thinking too much about what you are wearing.

I wish you all a happy Family Photo Season! May your sessions be short, the weather cooperative, your clothes coordinated, and your patience in abundance.


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5 tips for Styling family photos. A photograph of a family of four posing for a family photo. Logo: Houston Moms.

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Sarah High
Sarah High is a Texan through and through. Born in Waco and raised in Houston, she attended school at the University of Texas in Austin and now lives in Sugar Land with her husband, Jordan, and two children, Hudson {2012} and Lucy {2014}. After working in legal marketing and business development, she stayed home after the birth of her first child determined to be the perfect stay at home mom. Reality set in, expectations were lowered, and now her main goal is to get her children to school on time with clean teeth and hair. Sarah likes to work out, enjoys the arts and restaurants Houston offers, loves to read and dance, and is always on the lookout for the best patio or French 75 in town. A recovering perfectionist, she continually seeks more grace for herself and others.


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