What To Wear For Your Fall Family Photos


Styling Ideas and Inspiration for your Outdoor Fall Family Portraits

Fall is the most popular time of year for family photos north of Boston. Save for the impending winter (!), there isn’t much to dislike about fall in New England. Not that I am in any rush for summer to end, but my favorite season style-wise has always been fall. And not just because I can get away with comfortable and oversized clothes. There are so many color options and comfy fabrics! Give me a good pair of boots, a cozy scarf, pumpkin beer and / or latte and you’ll see the happiest girl in the world. 

So, what do you wear for fall family photos? While Uggs and an oversized sweater may work for everyday fall life, let’s dive in a little deeper, shall we?

coordinating family portraits styling ideas

Fall has so many gorgeous colors! Loving this deep green, gray, and navy color palette for fall.

Choosing the Best Colors for Fall Family Photos

Much like the summer sunsets, you can’t go wrong with any colors you’ll see in the fall foliage: yellows, oranges, deep greens. It all works. Red is a common color when you think about fall, but it doesn’t always photograph well as the main color. It works better as a pop of color. Some other favorite fall time colors are navy, plum, burnt sienna, crimson, tan, mustard yellow to name a few. Some of my favorite color combinations are navy and cream with a splash of any other color, burnt orange, yellow and plum, and olive green, crimson and mustard yellow. A combination of cream and tan is a good substitute for everyone in all white (see family portrait below).

Keep in mind that these family photos will have fall foliage as their backdrop. Play off of those colors, but also use coordinating ones. You might have browns and oranges behind you, so a pop of yellow, plum or emerald green can stand out against the background. And if all else fails, go for a classic neutral color like gray or cream. Gray is super popular right now, which makes sense since it truly goes with everything.

And the importance of color choice doesn’t end at your ankles. It’s easy to overlook shoe choice. But some of your family portraits may end up being full length, so your shoes will show. Neutral colors are always the best choice. Brightly colored sneakers might be fun to wear, but they can stand out like a sore thumb in family portraits.

fall family photo styling ideas using gray

Gray is a perfect choice if you want a neutral color. It looks great on everyone, and goes with everything.

Fabric Choice is Important

So often we focus on what color we want to wear for photos. And choosing a color palette can definitely be the first step. But it doesn’t end there. What do you think of when you hear the words Fall Fashion? Chances are your first thought is to cozy textures. Flannel, chunky knits, denim, corduroy, tweed, and crushed velvet are all great textures for the fall. Plus, these fall fabrics look great on the whole family and photograph beautifully.

Fall is also a great time for layers and textures. Adding a scarf can make an outfit pop. And don’t forget the accessories! I’m a sucker for a statement necklace, or the perfect pair of boots. Layers help because this is New England and while the weather may be chilly the day of your shoot, give it five minutes and you’ll be peeling off clothing faster than you can say “New England weather”.

outdoor family portraits during autumn

Dad’s knit sweater and Mom’s chunky knit scarf add visual interest and pair perfectly with baby’s soft flannel.

To Coordinate or Not to Coordinate

family photos using white

If you want everyone in one color, creams and tans are always a good idea.

Fall family portraits means dressing not just one person, but the entire family. This can seem a bit daunting. Do we all wear the same colors? Do we wear the same textured fabric? But here’s the general rule of thumb: don’t focus too much on matching, but on coordinating. If everyone is wearing the same color, print, or fabric, the eye can get confused where to look. Instead, go for colors and fabrics that work well together. This creates more visual interest.

I find it helps to pick one outfit that you love and then go from there. It makes everything a lot less stressful. Once you see what one person is wearing, the rest can fall into place. Plus, if this outfit has a busier print or pattern, it gives you something to build from. We call this the “hero outfit” and typically it’s either worn by mom or one of the kids. This outfit might have all the colors that the rest of the family is wearing, or more of a texture and the rest are wearing lighter fabrics.

Some children’s clothing stores like Janie and Jack have collections that coordinate well if you’re looking to coordinate without matching. Another option that I love for any season is Jamie Kay.

Kids Will Sometimes Have Their Own Opinions

While coordinating is the goal, sometimes (and by sometimes I mean usually) toddlers have their own agenda. If your little one will not leave the house without their favorite princess gown or super hero cape on, just go with it. Those proud smiles will be better than the tear stained cheeks we’ll see if they’re forced to wear something they don’t want to. (Plus, let’s be real, such a good story for down the road!).

The photo below is a perfect example. Who wouldn’t want to remember the time all she wanted to wear was her blue princess dress and cute bandaid!?

princess dress in family portraits

And honestly, her sparkly princess gown totally works in this photo. Talk about hero outfit!

Comfort is Key

Let’s face it, smiling for a camera is typically not anyone’s idea of a fun time. Now imagine smiling for a camera AND being in uncomfortable, stiff, itchy clothing. Not fun. When push comes to shove, the best way to get genuine smiles in your family photos is to be comfortable.

There are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to comfort. The first is fabrics. If your little one hates itchy knits, choose a soft flannel or corduroy instead. Does your little girl hate being in dresses and tights? Find some velvet leggings or cute jeans instead.

It’s important to consider the size of the clothing, too. No one is comfortable in too tight clothing (I know I’m not!), but the same can be said with clothing that’s too big. If you’re spending the whole session tugging and adjusting too big pants or a shirt that doesn’t fall correctly, no one will be happy.

Your little ones aren’t the only ones who need to be comfortable. Keep temperatures in mind when dressing the whole family. If it’s a sunny fall afternoon, Dad might be sweating in his dress shirt or sweater vest, and you don’t want that in your family portraits.

And the last very important thing to keep in mind for comfort: shoes. Since these sessions are outside, it’s important to choose shoes that won’t make walking on grass difficult. And for the littles, make sure to choose shoes that don’t pinch toes or scrape heels.

fun outdoor fall family portraits

Mom and Dad let their kiddo shine. They stuck with neutrals and let her be the pop of color and pattern.

When in doubt: Go Timeless

These portraits are something special that can last for generations. Which is why choosing timeless pieces is key. While we can never really know what’s going to be in style forever, we have a pretty good idea what isn’t. Big graphics and logos on clothing not only distract from the other members of the family, but they can make a photo seem trendy or dated. Stick with styles that are timeless staples. Sweaters, flannel button down shirts, and jeans will always be in style. When it comes to family portraits, keep it simple, timeless, and work with the beautiful fall foliage for style inspiration.

For classic staples to wear during the photo session, I always recommend Gap, Old Navy, J.Crew, or even H&M.

Examples of Perfect Fall Family Portrait Styling Ideas

using green in outdoor family photos

Big brother has the “hero outfit” in this example. Mom and dad are wearing colors found in his shirt, while little brother is in a color that coordinates well.

family portraits in autumn

Big sister gets the hero outfit this time. Her printed button down is in the same color as Dad and little sis. While mom and brother are in coordinating colors. Mom’s printed scarf balances out big sister’s pattern.

brothers portrait outdoors fall

These brothers show how matching outfits can totally work! Plus, the little peek of plaid adds the perfect pop of interest.

how to dress for fall family photos

Mom’s pop of pink adds just the right amount of color. Pink and gray are a fantastic combination.

styling inspiration for family portraits

Warm sweaters, printed scarf, touch of plaid, and textured tights. Perfect for fall!

For more styling inspiration visit our fall family photo Pinterest board. To read more about why fall is a great time for family portraits read this blog post. Also check out these blog posts to see some photos from past fall family portrait mini sessions and full fall family photo sessions. Still in Summer mode? Click here for our summer styling guide.

Crabapple Photography is located in Andover, MA and services clients from north of Boston to southern New Hampshire including Winchester, Lynnfield, Concord, Acton and more. Photographer Kate McKenna has over ten years of experience photographing all ages from newborn to family portraits. Fall is her favorite time of year for family photos because of the beautiful fall foliage that New England is known for.

Contact Kate today for more information and to book your fall family portrait session.

Add a comment...

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

    Keep In Touch


    Welcome to Crabapple Photography! I'm Kate and I've been a family portrait photographer since 2009. My specialty is newborns, babies and children. We have fun! My style is clean and whimsical and I am a detail person.

    My studio is located in Andover, MA and I proudly photograph families in the North Shore of MA, Greater Boston and Southern NH areas. I also offer on location outdoor sessions as well.

    Contact me today!

    View Current Galleries