As a documentary and lifestyle photographer in Columbus Ohio, I photograph almost all of my families at their home, but that doesn’t mean we always stay indoors. Fall is the perfect time to venture into the neighborhood or backyard, jump into a huge pile of leaves, and admire spooky decorations and pumpkin-things-galore!

When it comes to figuring out what to wear for fall family photos, it can feel like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be. We’ll definitely want to steer clear of the cringey 00’s fads of everyone in matching red & black plaid. But on the other hand, we don’t want to go too sterile/bland and remove all color.

Natalie is laughing in a pile of leaves

Here are some best practices when choosing outfits, plus some ideas to inspire you

Comfort first — always.

If you feel comfortable, you will be more relaxed and happy, and your final photos will be better. We play a lot during the session, so make sure you can easily move around, sit, kneel, and bend over. If the weather forecast is chilly, find an extra layer (sweater, cute jacket, vest) that you’re OK with being photographed. Test all outfits beforehand; don’t wait until session day to put brand new outfits on your kiddos.

A family with a toddler daughter and two large dogs sitting on a picnic blanket in their backyard

Consider the environment.

You’ll definitely want to create some variety between your outfits and the natural scenery. For instance, if we’re shooting on your street around trees that are yellow, don’t wear yellow. Wear greens/blues to help you pop off the background. If you live in a more urban environment, you could definitely incorporate some warm fall tones like burnt orange or mustard without worrying about overpowering the image. It’s all about balance.

Tiffany and Scott give Luna a kiss on the cheeks
A family with 3 young boys standing on a sidewalk under a yellow tree

Keep dark colors to a minimum.

Fall in Ohio usually comes with more cloudy weather, and dark colors will absorb the remaining light. This will produce a darker overall image that simply doesn’t print as nicely. If you must use dark colors, use them sparingly, and stick with shades that have some color in them – like maroon or dark plum – as these will pair well with the lighter colors in your palette and balance everything out. Scroll down to see some examples below!

Pick a color palette (and stick with it)

You’ll want some visual variety in your outfits, but there should be an underlying theme tying it all together. Start with your home for inspiration. What colors do you normally decorate with, and what are you naturally drawn to? This will also ensure your images look beautiful hanging on your walls. 

My favorite color palette strategy: complementary colors! This just means picking colors from opposite sides of the color wheel. There’s a lot going on in the scenery in fall, and even more so if you’re splitting your session time between indoors/outdoors. Complementary colors ensure that you’ll have some visual interest no matter where we shoot, you’ll flatter yourselves and each other, and your final photos will definitely have flavor and personality.

A little girl in a red jumpsuit and blue eyes

Below are 5 coordinated outfit combos, created using Style & Select:

Style & Select is an online styling tool where you enter a few details about your family members, what styles and color palettes you like, and it will put together photo-friendly options with convenient links of where to purchase. The best part? Access to Style and Select is included when you hire me for family photos — yippee!

Some things to avoid:

  • Neon colors. These reflect harsh colors on your skin. If you absolutely LOVE a certain color (like hot pink), choose a more muted version of it (dusty rose). 
  • Logos or words on clothing.
  • Athletic sneakers.
  • Bulky items in pockets. Bring along a trick-or-treat pumpkin to store bulky items until photo time is over!
  • Polo shirts. A simple clean t-shirt is always a more natural looking choice. 
  • The “safe” option. Don’t wear bland outfits because you’re worried about wearing the wrong thing. Be you! 

Know the limits of your expertise, and know when to ask for help. I love planning outfits, and helping you feel prepared and excited for your session. Shoot me an e-mail anytime you feel stumped, and I’ll help get you on the right track!

Hi there!

I’m Daisy, and you’re very welcome here.

I’m a documentary Columbus Ohio family photographer offering stress-free and fun portrait experiences. I hope you enjoyed What to wear for fall family photos, and if you’d like to chat about your own family photos, smash that button below. Can’t wait to hear what wild and wonderful things you’re dreaming up!

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