How to Choose Outfits for Group Photos


For those that are here because you’ve booked a session with me – I can’t. Freakin’. Wait.

We are going to have such a rad time and be best frans before the session’s over. I feel it in my bones. (My elbows, specifically, in case you were wondering. The elbows are the second heart, haven’t you heard?)

Listen – We’re not just taking photos, we are building a time capsule. We’re immortalizing a moment in time that you can revisit again and again for the rest of your life. The people you are today – the opinions you hold, the music you listen to, your weird eating habits – get lightly salted and spritzed with lemon (for freshness), packaged up, vacuum-sealed, and free-thrown into the capsule for your future selves to look back on and remember.

These photos aren’t just another thing to lose in a box in the garage next to all of the stuff you probably shouldn’t have bought because someone thought it was a good idea to leave you home alone with wine and Amazon. These photos matter.

I wanna make sure you’re feelin’ yo bad self that day, so this article will guide you through the style decisions you need to make before it arrives. I’ve broken it into 3 major concepts.

Family of 5 Enjoys a Hike Outdoors Together

1. Stop, Coordinate, and Listen.

— Look like unique pieces that fit the same puzzle.

The days of wearing the same white polos and khaki pants are gone, gone, gone. Matchy-matchy looks anything but natural, and it masks the individuality of each person. The only matching that should happen is the lighting of a match to set fire to the dreadful family uniform for all of eternity. Matching is out, and coordination is in.

Coordination is the combination of varying shades of color, patterns, textures, and styles that have just enough in common to look seamless. It looks natural and makes the story that the photos tell feel real.

If you can, begin your wardrobe plans with one outfit. Marie Kondo your way to a single set that sparks joy, then make your next outfit decisions based on its details. Does it have a pattern that you can pull other colors from? Does the style lead you down a path to fancyland or casualville?

Highlight the individuality of each person with clothes that stand out from the others. Have each person wear different types of pants (jeans, khakis, colored pants, etc) and combination of clothing (v-neck and jacket, button-up and sweater, dress and cardigan, etc).

2. Take It Off Auto-Palette.

— Choose a palette of 2-3 colors at most.

Your color palette is one of the most important details of the photos, so it’s important to give it some good thought. Start by narrowing it down to either warm tones (rust, brown, etc) or cool tones (blue, gray, etc). If you’ve decorated your home in a particular style or palette, you may want to consider matching your outfits to the rooms that you’ll hang large prints in.

When you land on a color or two that you love, look into varying the shades of those colors. You don’t have to shop for the perfect shade matches. Having a mix of light, dark, dull, and vibrant shades brings depth to the photos.

I love me a bold soul, but don’t let color vibrance get out of hand. Bright or neon colors draw attention away from the people and the story. Neons can also cast colors onto your skin that are not appealing.

A fun way to find inspiration is to flip through randomized palettes on Coolors: (Hit the spacebar to generate new ones.) Keep going until something catches your eye and feels right for the photos you want to have.

3. Get a Little Knit Picky.

— Incorporate fabric textures and patterns.

Fabric textures (lace, knit, wool, denim, etc) add another level of dimension and life to a photo. Textures are like spices in a recipe. A hint of this, a pinch of that. Mm! Variety keeps our eyes dancing around an image as we soak in all of the delicious details.

The same thing happens when we incorporate contrast. Our eyes LOVE contrast, which can be defined as the arrangement of opposite elements (light and dark, rough and smooth texture, large and small shapes, etc). Contrast can be achieved in a number of ways with a wardrobe – Like wearing a dark knit cardigan over a light lace dress or light khaki pants paired with a dark velvet blazer.

If your outfit game’s falling flat, try including a pattern as well (maybe 2, if you have more than 3 people in the photo) – Such as floral, plaid, polka dot, argyle, pinstripe, etc.

Lay everything you’ve chosen out on a neutral colored bed, table, or floor to see if your collection is working. If you notice that an item is standing out too much from the rest, there’s a good chance that will be amplified when it gets on camera.

As we plan for your day, snap a photo of your final wardrobe set and send it my way. I’d love to see what you’re thinking and to verify that the location is right for it. You’ll also be more than welcome to bring additional clothing and accessories to the session.

I can’t wait to capture your story!