Wardrobe Wednesday {extended family sessions – a guide}

I. Love. This.

Dressing your entire extended family for a photo shoot can seem like a nearly impossible task. Lindsay, of Lindsay Horn Photography, just went through the process herself, and tells us what she learned along the way. Just take a look at the final photo (courtesy of Erica May) – they look fantastic! Seriously, I’m not related to any of them, but yet I’d totally put this on may wall. Call me crazy 🙂

So you’ve been reading our posts every week and have gotten really knowledgeable about dressing your family for your portrait session, right?  And then it happens ….about every 5-10 years everyone gets together for an EXTENDED family portrait session.  Don’t panic, I know what you are thinking: “How in the world will we coordinate (and not match) different groups of people who may not even live in the same place?  It’s impossible.  That’s it, white shirts and jeans it is.”  NOOOOOO!  It’s not impossible, I promise!  I just went through this lovely process with my own extended family, and I’m going to help you do it too, step by step.

1)   Get everyone on board.  This will be a team effort, so you need to have a pep talk with everybody and make sure they are all on the same page.  Make sure everyone understands what you are trying to do – show them examples from these posts to help give them an idea of the “coordinated” look we always try to achieve.  Let them see that they won’t be disappointed in the results!

2)   Do your research.  Before picking a color scheme, I suggest actually going around to some stores and seeing what colors are “in” at the time.  We did NOT do this, and it didn’t take walking out of too many stores empty-handed to realize that purple was the color of the season, and our chosen burgundy accent was hardly anywhere to be found.  Doing a little research ahead of time will make it so much easier in the long run.

3)   Pick a color scheme.  In my opinion, it’s easiest with larger extended family groups to keep your color choices simple, leaving less room for error.  We picked some basic neutral colors (cream, taupe, and denim) and then used burgundy for our accent color.  Simple works well, but also be specific when needed.  We chose taupe and not “browns” because I don’t think a dark brown would have looked nearly as good among the other colors.  Once you’ve made a choice, communicate it clearly to the rest of the group.  We actually pulled some of these colors out of my mom’s closet, took an iPhone picture, and sent it to everyone else along with some written notes.  Visuals never hurt!  J

4)   Raid your closet, hit the stores, and keep your receipts!  It’s important to have options, especially if everyone lives in different places and you can’t check things out in advance.  We arranged to meet at my parent’s house an hour before leaving for the session so we could see what everyone came up with and make final wardrobe decisions.  We each came with more than one option in case there was color-clashing, too much of one color, etc.  Yes, that means I made a round of returns the following week, but it was worth the peace of mind knowing we had our bases covered.  If you can’t meet in one place, just plan on getting to the session early – you can always change in your car if needed.

FINAL TIPS:  First, our usual “rules of thumb” still apply – textures, layers, and accessories all make for a great outfit.  Secondly, make sure your family unit looks well-coordinated alone as you’ll likely be taking some individual family pictures too.  What looks good as a part of the large group may not necessarily look good in a smaller unit (for example, if you are all wearing a different color).  That brings me to my final tip – use your accessories wisely.  Particularly if you happen to be wearing mostly neutral colors, let your accessories add the accent color, which will help seamlessly tie your look into everyone else’s.  Below, you can see we used red and cream jewelry, a red tank top, and a giant red flower bow to do this, and the pops of color here and there really make a difference.  So, with all of that said, here’s the final product (thank you Erica May)!  I couldn’t be more pleased with how it turned out, and what I love most about it is that it looks like US – as in we don’t typically hang out together in matching white shirts and jeans, and I bet you don’t either. J



Shopping List – I’ll only list what my family unit wore to keep this from turning into a book, but the majority of everyone else’s outfits were from Target, Kohl’s, and Nordstrom Rack (my new FAVORITE store).


ME (Second from the left)

Tank top – Nordstrom Rack

Jeans – Gap

Jewelry – Necklaces (Claire’s); Earrings & Bracelets (not shown, but cute! J  Dillard’s on sale)



Button-up shirt – J Crew (Clearance)

Khaki shorts – Old Navy



Top – Baby Gap (Clearance)

Jean Skirt – Old Navy

Sandals – Target

Red Bow – Claire’s