Need outfits for a family photo? There’s a stylist for that!

Ahhhhh…the holiday’s. Christmas cookies, pine scented candles and the obligatory family photo card. This last one makes me cringe. I try too hard to make our dog pose with our kids,  (and this year it will be dogs plural since our adoption of another beagle), to make the kids not fight long enough for a snapshot, and of course wear something cute. Thankfully the clothing part usually comes easy since this is in my small wheelhouse of talents, I’d choose shopping for coordinating Christmas clothes over cooking a holiday meal every single time. Here are just a few failed examples.

thanksgiving 003

Eventually we decided on humiliating our poor beagle all on his own for a separate photo, but that really didn’t make it any easier.


This one is just pathetic because he knows what’s about to happen…


Recently a client who is also a very good friend contacted me in a panic regarding their family photo shoot. The photographer she had been waiting for had an opening, but it was in 1 week. That meant she had one week to find outfits to coordinate for her 3 boys, ranging in age from 3 to 12, as well as her and her husband. Did they all have clothes in their closet? Of course. Did they have outfits that would look good when taken together in a group shot? Not so much. Like any family each member has their own style of dress, things they wear that reflect what they are comfortable in and reflect their personality. Could all the boys been thrown into matching sweaters? Sure, but it would have made for some grumpy moods and expressions.

image via Pinterest

This particular client lives in the South, so going shopping together isn’t happening without a plane ticket. But we have worked together in the past via phone and online for her clothes so I knew I could make this work. Anytime I work with a long distance client I make sure we go over what types of stores are available to them in their area, this was especially important with this client because she didn’t want to have to pay express shipping for all her items to be delivered to her doorstep. We discussed the type of shoot and the fact that it would involve some action shots of the kids playing as well as single and group shots. The goal was to have the outfits to look coordinated without looking overly fussy or formal, allowing for each family member’s personality to show through. One child is preppy, one is sporty and the youngest one just needed to be comfortable.

Our next step was the creation of a Pinterest board that we both could access.(See that board by clicking here.) I gathered pieces based on our conversation and posted them to the board. This allowed the client and her family members to look at the board and become involved. Once we narrowed down some choices I used a style board to put together a visual of what everyone would look like all together. With the whole family in approval of their look all mom had to do now was the shopping. To simplify we called ahead to several of the stores to make sure their sizes were available. Most stores will put them aside for you if you ask, so all you have to do is show up to the register and checkout and go. Super easy.

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The best part? The feedback I got from my client (and friend):

“By hiring you it took all the stress away, the clothes were ready to go and we were able to get dressed and have fun. Even my kids got involved in looking at the boards and being able to give their opinions on the choices. Everyone was comfortable in their outfits and will be wearing the pieces we purchased again and again.”

Here are some examples of style boards for client photo shoots.

Fall Photo Shoot BEP by sgaffney on Polyvore
YFamily Photo Shoot Look 2 by sgaffney on Polyvore featuring J.Crew, Frye and Banana Republic
"Look 5 A. Family" by sgaffney on Polyvore featuring Gap, Columbia, Converse, Vans, BZIPPY & CO. and Boden

*Insider Tip – Don’t over think it.

Just like anything else too much thought can make the process intimidating and overwhelming. While the details are important don’t let them overwhelm your decisions. With a short time frame to shop we had no choice but to flexible in our choices. There were certain items we had in mine but they just weren’t available in the right size or color. Your best move is to pick one item that acts as a cohesive piece to pull the color scheme together and then try to keep the rest of the pieces relatively simple. In the example above, the sweater for the youngest son was the building block that we based the rest of the choices upon.  Busy or small prints usually don’t photograph well so stick to flattering colors and rich textures.  Simpler choices may feel boring at first, but keep in mind that the goal of a family photo shoot is to keep the emphasis on you and the (hopefully) smiling faces of your family.  

Release the Cheeks! | Curly Nikki | Natural Hair Styles and Natural Hair Care
via Pinterest

Thanks for reading!


Published by suziegaffney

owner at Suzie Gaffney Styling

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