What to Wear to Fall Family Photos

Coordinating your family in complimentary colors

As an artist and photographer, I love color. I actually think artists, especially painters, have a very defined sight of pure color. It is almost a requirement to be able to mix colors. Some people may see a deep purple and call it blue, or a stone blue and call it gray. Most artists, however, are able to see pure HUE of color. Others define a color based on the tint, tone, or shade of a pure hue. What's the difference?


Let's talk about the artist's color theory for a second. "Color" is the general term for everything we see. "Hue" refers to the brightest 6-12 pure, unmixed, pigment families on the color wheel. Can you name them all?


"Tint" is any hue with white added. The color remains the same, only lighter. "Tone" is any pure hue with neutral gray added. It remains the same color, only less vibrant. And "shade" is any pure hue with black added. The color remains the same, only darker. So why are we talking about color again? Well, as a photographer I get asked a lot about what to wear to photoshoots, or what the best colors are to be photographed in.


When first starting out as a family photographer in 2009, I read what other seasoned photographers recommended. I saw many say blacks, whites, neutrals, etc. Their recommendation was that you don't want your clothes to overpower and take away from you, the subject. I agree with this completely, especially when it comes to patterns. Sometimes patterns, especially, on small children's' clothes can be very bright and distracting. However, I don't recommend only neutral colors, black or white either for my clients. I am flashing back to early 2000 family photos where everyone wore white shirts with khakis. Well, that is not my style of photography.


I believe people should wear colors that compliment them. Colors give in insight into mood and expression. I want to capture everyone's unique personality when photographing them. You want to look your very best in your photos and you want to look like yourself, the best version of yourself. Most adults know what colors suit them so I always encourage clients to first pick the color or colors that look best on them. I then think about the season and encourage clients to make sure the color scheme you pick matches the season. Every pure hue on the color wheel is suitable for every season. It is the tint, tone, and shade that make the hue complementary to the specific season we are in.

Let's say your child is warm toned and looks beautiful in yellow. Have him or her wear yellow. For fall pick a yellow that is suitable for the season like mustard yellow. Now let's say your husband is cool toned and he always looks amazing in blue. Ask him to pick out a shade of blue that is suitable for fall. Now you can pick out either a neutral tone like gray or a mixed color like green (remember yellow and blue make green) so it is warm and cool, matching others in your family. If green isn't your color and you feel washed out in neutral tones then think about the color that looks best on you. Let say purple is your go-to color. How does purple, yellow, and blue complement one another? Remember purple is a mix of a warm hue (red) and a cool hue (blue). Find a plumb or more red-toned maroon. It will match your husband's navy and it will compliment the mustard yellow. Now you are all wearing colors that compliment each of you that also match nicely.


Also, let's say everyone looks amazing in blue. Make sure you don't all come wearing the same blue or shades of blue that clash. Pick out complementing blues like a blue jean, a navy, and add in a neutral gray or a very subtle blue striped or plaid pattern as you pop. Always remember, if you are stumped on one person's color, make him or her the neutral one that meshes everyone together. White can be used here but for the cooler months pick an off white or ivory so the contrast is softer.


Below are a few examples of hues that are perfect for fall:

Remember your basics, yellow and red make orange, blue and yellow make green, blue and red make purple. This is how you can incorporate different colors into the mix while keeping each color complimentary to others.

A pop of color will always liven up any photo. If you have photos scheduled in winter when everything is brown then pull in the fall yellows, greens, and deep barn reds. If you need to stick with blue then play with different shades of navy.

Blues and tans are traditionally a go-to fall color, but what if pink is your color? Then wear pink, just wear a darker shade with a pink tone like the coral seen in the picture.

Think about all the colors you see during the fall. The days remain darker longer so dark tones match the season. However, think about the colors in nature like blooming red berries, acorns with rich brown shade, and leaves that turn from bright green to a lighter yellow, some into red. Now pick out the color that compliments each one and I promise you will all match beautifully.


Remember, don't all wear the exact same color. And one last recommendation, don't just wear black. Most of us ladies flock to black because it is flattering but think of other darker colors that are just as flattering like navy, deep plumb, brown. You never see black in nature, you only see shade so go with a shade of color if you feel most confident in dark clothing. I hope this helps and as always, wear what you feel great in! It is important to be comfortable during your session to get the best photos.