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Southern Contessa Photography

Family Portrait Session Style Guide

Wondering what to wear for your family portraits? No worries! I've created this blog post to help you determine what is best for you and your family. It is so hard trying to piece outfits and colors together! As the photographer, it is my job to fully prep you for your session. With wardrobe being a big part of the picture ( see what I did there??LOL) I thought maybe this post would help prep my clients and relieve your stress! Your job is be your happiest self and let me create memories that you will love to look back on 30 years from now!

Style Tips for Mom



Remember when you were a little girl and would get so excited play dress up? Maybe you had just one or five million different costumes or dresses that you could play princess in ( I know I was lucky enough to have a gazillion). View this as a time that you get to play dress up again!

I always suggest to my mamas to wear long flowy dresses or a long flowy skirt. This will add so much more romance and movement in your photos. Take the photo above for example. This beautiful mama decided to wear a stunning green long and flowy dress for her portrait session. If you look at the dress you will see that it looks as if the wind was blowing and she was moving to do something. You can literally jump in the picture and let your imagination take over. That is the movement aspect of it. During your session I will put you in poses that not only flatter you, but help create movement to your portraits!

Here comes the romance part of it. What do you think of when you think of the word "romance"? To me, I think of a fun a magical time. That, to me, is what make these dresses/skirts so great!

They truly add an elegant feel to the portrait and just make everything seem so magical! The picture to the left is from the same session, if she would've been wearing pants, this image wouldn't even have the same feel to it. This is part of what set your session apart from everyday life!

As long dresses and skirts usually flatter a female body, some clients may not like the idea of wearing this. They may be more in tune with pants. Either way, I always advise my clients to be aware of the way the clothing fits. Most likely I will have standing and sitting poses and I will have you moving. If you try your outfit on make sure you love it 360, meaning you love it sitting down, standing up, bending over, or jumping up and down.


Along with playing dress up with your wardrobe, you should be sure to carry it along with your hair. Whether it's straight, loose curls, or in an updo, anything is better than nothing. Make sure you don't do anything dramatically different to your hair before your family portraits. You will look at these years later. Don't forget about makeup. I learned this the hard way. My senior portraits I had done my hair and makeup to the T, but I was never the lipstick person and totally forgot to put some on. In my photos my lips look super small and like they are barely there. Even the smallest amount of added color of lipstick, blush, or mascara will make your photos POP!

If you want an all out photography experience you can add onto your package and get the hair and makeup that you desire for your session. My team provides amazing work in a fun and relaxing environment.

Adding Accessories

Adding some accessories to your wardrobe can really add to your portraits. This can add onto style and color of the session!

Summing it up:

  1. Wearing something long and flowy can add that special feel to your portraits

  2. Make sure your hair and makeup looks nice

  3. Throw in some accessories for a fun spin

Tips for Dad


If your man will go the extra mile for you, then blazer or coats look amazing with different color pants. However, if your hubby is like mine, he would probably prefer something more casual, yet dressy. For example, a really nice pair of pants and a nice button up shirt would look fantastic. Of course, this is still dress up time, so make sure they trim their beards, shave, and do their hair for your session.


I know how hard it is, for some, to get your husband excited about your portrait session. My only recommendation is to remind him that these will last forever, but the season of life that you are in will not. That and you can always bribe him when all else fails LOL.

Tying the Wardrobe together

This seems to always be the hard part. Does this pattern go with this one or does this color go with this one? Will we look to matchy? Will we look to different?

Let's simplify this! Always start with Mama. Usually this outfit is the most difficult to figure out. If mama knows what she is wearing, then everyone elses will fall into place. Take the style tips from earlier to help decide what you should wear.

Next, and most important, you want to make sure everyones outfit coordinates but is not matching. To do this we must decide what we want as our main color and our individual accent color. Once we can figure that out, then we can help with everyone elses colors.

For example, maybe you are wearing a floral dress that is mainly dark blue with light blue or pink flowers in it. You can then coordinate your son/husband or daughter with the light blue (since its not the main color in your dress) and your spouse can wear the other colors that are in the dress.

If you're not a floral print loving person, then here's another example. Say your dress is mainly a soft pink but you want your accent color to be a light blue. Have your son dress in the light blue polo or for a button up either a light blue or a jean button up. You can have your daughter in another color that you love and would really pull it all together. I would suggest either something bold like navy blue or something more neutral like a beige or off white colored dress. Then, your husband could wear a white undershirt with a beige blazer or coat and jeans. Phenomenal!

There are all sorts of examples on Pinterest that you can use! Check them out. If you still have questions or need another female opinion, then please do not hesitate to call or message me!

Oh, almost forgot! Please remember to give your self ample timing to get your clothes and try them on, if you're ordering them online. Some clothing doesn't look or fit like they say they do. So, its best to make sure you have plenty of time to try on or

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