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Pumpkin Spice + Leafy Portraits – What to Wear to Your Fall Family Photo Session



With the crisp air + stunning leaves, fall is a great time for family portraits… especially in North Carolina! When anyone books a session with me, almost always they follow up by asking “so what should we wear?”

Well, first things first – don’t panic and run out to buy an entirely new wardrobe for your session. An outfit definitely can make or break your portrait session, but I’m positive that you already have some amazing options in your closet that will work perfectly.  Here are a few of my favorite tips on how to find the perfect pieces + pair them together:



When your family is grouped up, the color palette should look cohesive, but not uniformed (picturing everyone wearing white with khaki pants – just say no). Neutrals are always best, but this doesn’t always have to mean white or black. In fact, to make the naturally dynamic colors of fall really pop, I always encourage families to go with a variation on a certain color theme. Deep jewel tones like navy, emerald green, and mustard yellow are all great options. A deep maroon can be strikingly beautiful, and red flannel in any forms is always a good option. Leave the pastels and bright, highlighter colors at home. Also avoid pinks or oranges always if you can help it, as it can actually affect how your skin tone looks in photographs.





Wearing predominantly solid colors are usually best as they keep the photographs from looking too busy, but if you’re a big lover of patterns, just be mindful of how you pair them – see the sessions above and below for a great example of perfectly paired solids + patterns. If you’re going with multiple patterns, make sure the colors coordinate and that none of the patterns are too overwhelming. Small accessories like scarves or headbands where the print will be more subdued is ideal. Flannel print is kind of an exception to this rule because really, what says autumn more than a flannel shirt or dress?






My absolute favorite thing about fall is layering it up. Think blazers, cardigans, scarves, and tights. Create visual interest by combining a classic button up with a cozy sweater + some worn in blue jeans. Fall can be an unpredictable time for weather, so layers will also ensure that everyone stays comfortable. Just make sure you’re selective with your layers so you don’t end up looking bulky or weighed down. When in doubt, ask your photographer!






Keep accessories to a minimum – they can really make or break a session. Do bring a beautiful fall colored blanket to sit on or wrap up in. Don’t bring watches or FitBits (please oh please. I’m a big lover of tracking steps too, but these usually don’t make for the most beautiful photos). Do absolutely wear a scarf, it’s a great way to add some color + texture to your photos… but maybe opt out of any hat wearing. Don’t forget to remove keychains, wallets, and cellphones from your pants (looking at you dads…)






Heck yes, you can bring your doggo! Pets are part of the family, so I love having them included in portrait sessions. Please bring the essentials like a leash, chew toy, and a waste bag (because life), but I would recommend making sure that whatever collar + leash situation you have going on be easy to take off and put back on, as we’ll be doing a lot of that.

Also, I recommend bringing a bag of treats, to give to the pup and also for me to shake over my camera like a maniac to get that cute little perky eared pup look.






– Bring snacks, especially if you have young children or pets. The goal is to keep everyone in good spirits for the duration of the shoot.

– Do have fun with the session. Just because these are posed photos doesn’t mean it has to be stiff and awkward. Be you! I’m not gonna lie, I once had a dad bring a beer to drink when he was off camera during a family session, and it made me so happy. Relax. Be you. That’s how you’ll get the best photos.

– Be prepared to move. Boots are a solid choice because they’re comfy but still dressier than a pair of sneakers. I don’t recommend heels because sessions usually involve a decent bit of walking, but if you’re super stylish and love to rock your heels, I’d bring a pair of sneakers to walk around in during the in-between.




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