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5 Tips on What to Wear for Fall Family Portraits

Fall photography of a young family at the University of Guelph's Arboretum.

It’s nearly that time again! Time to start off the year with some new family portraits while the leaves of Fall start to show their true colours. Though the season makes a beautiful backdrop, picking the outfits to wear for family photos can be a little stressful.

No worries, these 5 tips should help you get an idea of what to consider when dressing for your special family portrait session this Fall!

Consider your home decor and colour scheme

Before your session, this is something to think about as these images will most likely be displayed on the walls of your home. The tones and decor set the stage for these beautiful images so picking the right outfits to compliment these existing elements will complete the look. If your decor is neutral or calm, choose clothes that are more earthy and with natural tones like browns, reds, greens, deep blues and oranges. If you are working with more bright and fun tones, feel free to bring out the fun in your wardrobe too like a cool hat, funky tie or a great piece of jewelry. The best and easiest inspiration are the walls that surround you, so take note of how your home is situated and what your favourite pieces of furniture are so your decisions won’t feel so overwhelming.

Layering and texture

For family portraits, specifically for the Fall season, it’s important to dress appropriately for the weather – especially if it’s one of the colder months of the season. Though it sounds like a downside to being outside, it gives us more opportunities to shoot with different outfits – the more options we have to work with the more variety you’ll have to choose from. If you’re preparing for a colder day, one family member might wear a nice shirt underneath a sweater or jacket (or both depending on the weather) and a scarf. As you get photos taken, you can remove or add an item to change up the composition while still being dressed properly for the weather. Sweaters, hats, scarfs and different types of pants are examples of some accessories that can add some texture, adding a little more interest to the photograph that also compliments the colour scheme chosen by the family.

Limit patterns

We all love a little fun to throw in a photograph, but if everyone has the same idea then patterns can become pretty distracting. Since there’s so much pattern already in the environment to use for backdrops, texture or contrast, introducing pattern especially in the a Fall portrait session can be a little tricky to blend in if not done tastefully. If you want to incorporate pattern in your photos, it is best to choose one person or one object like a blanket to showcase the pattern while the other family members dress in the solid complimentary colours the pattern possesses. This way, the photograph will be unified by the colours chosen with emphasis on the family, and not on the different patterns used.

Plan ahead

We all have those busy months and if you know that you’re looking to have your family portrait session taken in a particular month or season, it’s best to book in advance! When you book your family portrait ahead of time, not only does it settle any anxiety about whether or not you’ve saved your spot, but it also gives you time to think about the outfits, accessories and colour scheme that would fit the style for your session. Working out the kinks and details beforehand actually means less stress as you start to approach the date of the session so keep that in mind!

When in doubt, go for the classic look

Some families have a certain look in mind and set out to get the photos taken to exact specifications. More often than not families have too many options to choose one final look or don’t really know what qualifies as family portrait attire. With a classic look, you can never go wrong! Classic doesn’t have to be boring, or super fancy. Semi or smart casual options perfectly suit any family portrait as it’s a comfortably stylish wardrobe – and most importantly, provides a timeless look. For this look, avoid shirts with logos or other graphics as this could be a distracting item in the photograph. Something that’s casual enough to be comfortable yet dressy to add a bit more confidence to your look should do the trick – nothing wrong with simplicity!


Well, there you have it!  We hope these 5 tips will be a helpful for those who need some guidance finding the perfect outfit and theme for their Fall family portrait session. Though the season is beautiful, the weather might not always be kind so remember to check the forecast for the day. For more tips see our other blog posts or check out Simple Photo Tips.

If you’re planning on having your family portraits done this Fall, check out our portrait photography page to view rates or contact us at the studio to book your session!