#1- Style yourself first!
As fun as it is to draw inspiration from kids clothing, if you feel what you're wearing doesn't flatter you or you feel uncomfortable in it, there is nothing I can do that will make you like your photos. Adult women (generally speaking) are more invested in family photos and we are also more critical about how we look than the rest of the family. Kids look cute in anything and guys are generally pretty easy to style in a way that fits in with everyone else, so take the opportunity to make yourself priority number one and wear something that makes you feel genuinely confident and happy :)
#2. Always feel comfortable
If you feel good, you will look good! Wear clothing you and your family can move around in freely and won't require a lot of maintenance during your session. I always recommend avoiding formal/stiff clothing during family sessions, especially with young kids. As a bonus to being comfortable and forgiving, long and/or flowy items like skirts, dresses, sweaters, and shawls add to the feeling of movement in photos so they are highly encouraged!
#3. Pick colors that compliment instead of match
When picking colors I suggest 1-2 colors combined with an assortment of neutrals to keep things looking cohesive, yet natural. All neutrals go together so if you're struggling with coordinating colors- keep everyone in neutrals (brown, tan, grey, cream, muted greens, and blues) and you're golden!
Try to avoid too much of one color, like everyone in the same shade of khaki pants or everyone in white tops, as that can look awkward/unnatural and people will start to blend together, making it difficult to differentiate where one person starts and another ends. However, using different shades of the same color generally works very well, especially with muted and earthy tones. Below are a few examples of color pallets- if you need more inspiration you can find many more on Pinterest!
#4. Take the location into consideration
We will be in an natural setting, so formal blacks and crisp whites while sitting/standing near lots of plants, greenery, dirt, etc. can look harsh and a little out of place. Creams and charcoal or other dark neutrals work well as a substitute. Not to say you can't wear black or white though! If you do I would just suggest softening them with another layer in a neutral or muted color.
In addition, I personally would avoid neon or extremely bright colors. Extremely bright or neon colors can reflect onto your skin or on someone else's skin if they are standing close to you, making you or them look bright pink/orange/etc. If you really like those colors though and want them represented in your portraits, I would try to keep them away from your face. Scarves work as a great buffer in those cases as you can see in the first photo at the top of the page.
#5. LAYERS, PATTERNS, AND TEXTURES
Layers are fantastic! They add variety, movement, and interest to your outfits. They can tone down a pop of color or bold pattern so they don't overwhelm everyone else, or they can be the pop as well. Layers that incorporate different textures are especially great as they add more dimension to the photo.
When it comes to patterns, bigger is better. Small patterns (like really thin stripes) can get lost easily and can also produce weird effects in photographs. Feel free to mix patterns as well- you can break them up and soften them with layers and textures. If your worried about patterns clashing or overwhelming a photo though, a general rule of thumb is one outfit with a mid/large sized pattern per every three people. Please note that while patterns are great, unless you are going for a very urban vibe, large logos or graphic tees can be distracting in a family portrait.
#6. ACCESSORIES AND SHOES
I love a cute scarf, beanie, headband, etc. since accessories, like layers and textures, add variety and interest to a photo. However, certain accessories- or too many accessories- can also be distracting and/or high maintenance, so if you're looking to add them to your families outfits, I'd suggest keeping it simple.
My biggest piece of advice when it comes to shoes is if possible, avoid tennis shoes. If it's not possible to avoid tennis shoes (which can be hard with kids) at least try to avoid brightly colored or white tennis shoes. Also, pointy heels would probably not be a great idea since we will be walking through grassy areas and they have a tendency to sink in to the ground.
Baseball hats are another accessory I'd avoid personally because unless the light hits just right, your face is almost guaranteed to be in shadow.
#7. ABOVE ALL, BE YOURSELVES!
I just went through a lot of guidelines that will hopefully be helpful for you. I hope it makes styling your family less stressful and that you will walk into your session feeling confident and happy with how you look. That being said- none of these are hard and fast "rules" and all I want is to capture your family being happy as you are. So if you have your heart set on something- go for it :)