It's super sad, but it must be said - summer is coming to an end. Kids are back in school, sweaters are hitting the store shelves, and I'm beginning to strategize about how I'll make it through another winter. For many, it's also time to start thinking about family photos for holiday cards. The important part is booking your photographer, but once you've done that, the panic sets in - what are you going to wear?!

I offer styling for family photos (meaning, I'll come over and pick out coordinating outfits for everyone in your family), but if you need some quick tips to go it alone, here are mine:

1) Start with Pinterest. Always, always, always start with Pinterest. Like any other visual you're trying to create, you need inspiration. You may have picked a photographer because they already have a defined visual style, or your photographer will want to see examples of your favorite images. In either case, you're going to want to gather looks you like, whether on Pinterest, or from magazines or photos. Pull whatever appeals to you for several days, and then go back and review. Is everyone wearing bright colors in all the images you chose? Neutrals? Mostly neutrals with a pop of color? Is the vibe energetic or calming? Do you want everyone to look polished and dressy or casual and comfortable? Make notes of what you're going for. To get ideas, check out my "photo styling" Pinterest board! Here's my most recent family photo - which, as you can probably tell, is completely my/our style! 

mindful closet st. louis family photo styling

(Where did that little baby go?! I want him back! Photo by Celeste Boyer)

2) Lay all your options out on your bed or floor and go to town. Start with one outfit that you know you want to use - maybe it's an adorable kid's outfit you've had picked out for ages. Maybe you only have one option you're comfortable with for yourself and everyone else is going to have to work around that. Using your notes from step one as a guide, pull any options that might work from each family member's closet. Start big and then edit down. Rearrange. Try different combinations. Don't forget about shoes and accessories! For a great run-down of how the process works in person, check out my friend Sara's post about our experience styling her holiday photos on her blog Running from the Law. Here's one of the photos from another session I styled for her.

mindful closet st louis family photo stylist

(Adorable, right??!! Photo by Kristie Cromie of L Photographie)

3) Make sure that your outfits aren't too matchy-matchy. Thanks to layering, it's easy in the fall to get a mixture of textures and patterns like knits, denim, lace, plaid, and stripes. If you are starting with an outfit that has a pattern, pull colors out of it to add a pop to other outfits in a scarf, headband, or underlayer. Stay away logos, brand names, and cartoon characters. This image (below), from a sweet family I styled, is a great example.

saint louis family photo styling

(So cute! Photo by Laura Edwards Gordon)

4) Make sure everyone's comfortable. You aren't going to have an easy time getting a glowing smile out of a child with itchy tights on. Same goes for dads (the comfort, not the tights). When in doubt, as in all things in life, keep it simple. The focus here is on your beautiful family's faces. The outfits shouldn't compete. 

5) Plan ahead. Have a dress rehearsal and have everyone try everything on. Do your initial planning session at least a week before your photos so you have time to grab any last minute replacements. 

Ok, now here's the good part - I've partnered with my friend Jessica from Emma Constance Photography to give away a mini family photo session*! Enter below, and, if you head over to Jess' blog, you can enter to win a styling session from me! So much giveaway!

 

*Must be scheduled on one of Jessica's available session dates, within the 270 loop, and must be redeemed by the end of 2015. Session is 20 minutes long and you will receive 5 digital images with printing rights.