CTS Blog

Your Go-To Guidebook for Styling Family Photos


Don’t let deciding what to wear for family photos overwhelm you. Snapping cute memories of you and your favorite people can be magical. With just a little styling help, you’ll have your new profile pics in no time. 

The Called to Surf Go-To Guidebook for styling family photos ensures every member of the fam is camera-ready no matter what time of year you decide to capture your people. 


Styling for Spring Family Photos

Girl, boy, and dog posing for family photos in an orchard

The grass is green and the flowers are blooming, and it's the perfect time to capture stunning and picturesque spring family photos. Skip the indoor studio portraits because weather and blooms make spring a picturesque backdrop for family photos. Glow on and embrace the sun and all of its natural lighting. Most spring portraits are edited to be light and airy. If you’re more of a dark and moody type of girl, find a photographer that will deliver that vibe. Styling for family photos can start as soon as you nail down your location.


If you’re reading this, you’re the one taking charge of leading family photo efforts. Choose your outfit first! Let’s take care of styling the littles and your partner after we’re done styling you. For a spring family photo, opt for a super subtle floral dress. Something flowy and ethereal can help you feel like your most confident self.

Maybe you’re Miranda Priestly-ing us and thinking “Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking.”

Understandable. In that case, here are a few other spring inspired colors and patterns:

    • Gingham: This pattern is a reminder of spring picnic and will have you feeling like a tall glass of lemonade.
    • Soft pastels: Soft pastels like light pink, lavender, mint green, and baby blue are perfect for creating a light and airy feel for spring photos.
    • Polka dots: Polka dots are a playful and fun pattern that can add some whimsy to your spring photos.


Once you have your dress, everyone else can follow suit. Start by choosing a soft pastel or earthy neutral color palette, incorporating shades of lilac, rose, sage green, lemon yellow, and soft lavender.


A mother posing with her three children in a studio set

Pose couples close together, capturing their love through tender gazes or sweet kisses, while children and siblings can express their connection and joy through laughter, play, and hugs. Don't forget to include any cherished family pets in the mix to showcase the bond between the entire family.

Photo Style/Background

Be sure to either tell your photographer what you’re looking for. Or, find a photographer whose style matches your desires. For spring photos you may want to consider creating a light and airy visual language with natural light, lens flares, and soft-focus backgrounds, highlighting the ethereal beauty of the blooming flowers, flowing fabrics, and gentle movement of the season.

Consider taking your photos with backgrounds that evoke the season:

    • Flower fields: Spring is the season of blooming flowers, and a flower field can be a beautiful and colorful background for your photos.
    • Parks and gardens: Public parks and gardens can provide a scenic background with lush greenery, blooming flowers, and winding paths.
    • Nature trails: If you're looking for a more rustic and natural background, a nature trail can provide a scenic backdrop with trees, rocks, and streams.

With these tips, your spring family photos will evoke a sense of joy, renewal, and togetherness that can be shared and cherished for years to come


Styling for Summer Family Photos

Mom, dad, daughter, and two sons taking a family photo in a field during golden hour

Suns out, cameras out. Summer is an underrated time to take your family photos. Chances are your kids are out of school and they don’t have as many sports practices or homework assignments to get to. 


But, don’t wait until the peak of summer to take family photos, especially if you’re planning to shoot outdoors. Everyone, from newborns to grandparents, is grumpier when they’re sweating through a photo session.



As we manifest smiles and picture-perfect photos for you and your family, let’s get to styling your outfits for family photos in the summertime. You can stick with the same process of getting your outfit ready first and going from there. If you’re planning on doing larger family photos with extended families in the summer, that’s when you may need to adjust your method. With so many bodies and opinions to think about, consider asking the pickiest person in the entire group to get things started. Have them select an outfit, pattern, or color scheme that they love and plan around that. Then, you won’t have to hear them complain about it later. 


Here are a few summery ideas to get you started:

    • Bright and bold colors: Vibrant colors such as hot pink, coral, turquoise, and orange can make your photos stand out and add a pop of color.
    • Stripes: Striped patterns are perfect for summertime photos, and they can create a fun and playful vibe.
    • Neutral colors: If you prefer a more subtle and classic look, you can opt for neutral colors such as beige, champagne, and gray. They can create a timeless and elegant look for your photos.
    • 50 shades of blue is a summer go-to color palette: Whether it’s the royal blues or navy blues, they make us feel like we’re cruising on a beach in Hawai’i and ring in the summer vibes.


Color Note: Summer is also one of the few seasons where bolder colors can make sense for smaller families. Tread carefully with bright colors, though. Even a typically neutral color like a bright white can wash out complexions. This is why you’ll see more families wearing creams and champagnes instead. Super bright colors can sometimes be distracting in a photo, too. If orange is your favorite color, you can always swap it out for a muted version like rust orange—problem solved.


Three women laughing next to each other on a sunny beach.

Pose couples in a relaxed manner, perhaps with arms around each other's waist or shoulders, capturing the warmth and connection of the summer season. Children and sibling poses can highlight fun summer activities like playing beach volleyball or sharing a cold treat on a hot day. Pets can be photographed frolicking in the shallow tide, running through meadows, or lounging with their family in the sunshine. 


And, you didn’t invest all that money in a cute photographer just to get teens or your husband eye-rolling in photos. Unfortunately, a few eye rolls and smile-less shots can happen regardless of the weather. So, try to emotionally prepare for that


Photo Style/Backgrounds

To enhance the shareability of your summer family photos, aim for a visual language that evokes the warmth and joy of the season. Use natural sunlight, golden-hour glow, or dynamic shadows to create a sense of depth and warmth in your images, and emphasize movement with flowing fabrics or wind-swept hair. 


Incorporate the breathtaking landscapes of summer with backgrounds like:

    • Beaches: The beach is a classic location for summer photos, with sandy shores, blue waters, and colorful sunsets. You can use the ocean, beach umbrellas, sand dunes, or lifeguard towers as backdrops.
    • Gardens: Gardens can offer a peaceful and serene background for your summer photos, with lush greenery, colorful flowers, and winding paths. You can use garden benches, fountains, or statues as props.
    • Sunflower fields: Sunflower fields are a unique and stunning location for summer photos, with tall and bright yellow sunflowers as a backdrop. You can use wooden crates, picnic blankets, or sun hats as props.
    • Waterfalls: If you have access to a waterfall or a stream, it can provide a picturesque backdrop for your summer photos, with cascading water and greenery. You can use rocks, logs, or wildflowers as props.


Celebrate the carefree spirit and radiant energy that summer brings and you are sure to appreciate the resulting photos.


Styling for Fall Family Photos

One of the reasons fall is the most popular season to take family photos is that everyone has got to get that annual holiday card out. You typically want to send out holiday cards with recent family photos—cue all the yummy pumpkin patch photos. Photographers are slammed during this time of year, so schedule your session well in advance. Now, let’s get back to the clothes!


Choosing your fall outfit for family photos can begin with an inventory of all the physical features you love about yourself. Do you love your eyes? Find a color that complements them. Have you been hitting the squats hard at the gym and you're ready to show off your backside? Then, heck yes you should wear those flattering jeans. Pair those jeans with a burgundy red chunky knit sweater. *Chef’s kiss.* Get everyone else to fall in line with a brown, cream, and denim color palette for fall.


Think of rich, earthy hues for your fall family photos color palette, embracing shades of burnt orange, deep red, mustard yellow, and chocolate brown. These colors not only complement the natural scenery but also exude the warmth and coziness of the season. Need a few other ideas?


    • Warm earth tones (as mentioned above): Fall is known for its warm and rich colors, and earth tones such as brown, rust, olive green, mustard yellow, and deep red can create a cozy and inviting feel for your photos.
    • Plaids: Plaid patterns are a classic choice for fall, and they can add a rustic and timeless look to your photos. You can choose from different types of plaids, such as buffalo check, tartan, or gingham.
    • Jewel tones: Jewel tones such as emerald green, sapphire blue, and ruby red can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to your fall photos.
    • Sweater patterns: Patterns like cable-knit, fair isle, and argyle create a timeless fall look as well.

Fall family photos are a good time to add dimension through layers as well; blazers, bomber jackets, and vests can elevate your look and his too! Accessorize? Always. Belts, ties, and fun socks for the men and all the gold drip for the women.


For fall photo poses, have couples cozy up together, wrapped in a warm blanket, or sharing a warm beverage. Capture the joy of children playing in a pile of fallen leaves or exploring a pumpkin patch. Sibling poses can show their bond, sitting back-to-back on hay bales, or walking side-by-side on a leaf-covered path. Pets can also be included, enjoying the crisp air while being hugged or carried by their family members.


Photo Style/Backgrounds

To capture the essence of the fall season, experiment with a visual language that showcases the stunning scenery, golden light, and cozy atmosphere. A few backgrounds that exude fall may include:

    • Forests and Woods: Fall foliage in a forest or wooded area can make a beautiful, natural background for your fall photos. You can use trees, leaves, and fallen logs as props.
    • Farms and Barns: An old barn, rustic fence, or a field of hay bales can make a great background for your fall photos. You can use a tractor or vintage truck as props.
    • Vineyards: Vineyards and wineries can provide a beautiful fall backdrop with grapevines, oak barrels, and rows of vines.
    • Apple Orchards: Apple orchards with rows of trees, red and green apples, and baskets of apples can create a charming and colorful background for your fall photos. You can use apple crates, baskets, or blankets as props.
    • Pumpkin Patches: Pumpkin patches with rows of pumpkins, hay bales, and scarecrows can provide a fun and festive background for your fall photos. You can use pumpkins, gourds, or autumn foliage as props.



Styling for Winter Family Photos

A woman hanging an ornament on a Christmas tree in her home wearing a cream jumpsuit

Much like summer, cold kids aren’t happy kids. Indoor sessions are common during the winter season for good reason. Photos in front of the fireplace in a cozy cabin at your nearest ski lodge aren’t a terrible alternative. The best part is styling doesn’t have to be limited to ultra-warm clothes.

If you just can’t stay away from the beauty of the snow-capped mountains, we understand that, too. Whichever location you decide, here are our top tips for styling winter family photos.



You might be sick of hearing “Let it Go” from Frozen, but now is the time to channel your inner Elsa. Something like that iconic icy blue gown would make a perfect family photo dress outdoors. If you decide to become the ice queen herself and carry on with an outdoor photoshoot, layers aren’t optional like in the fall. They’re a must! We don’t want everyone looking like the Marshmallow Man in their puffer jackets, but keep those on standby in-between shots. Hats and tights can add warmth without the extra bulk.

For your winter color palette there are several options to consider:
Icy Blues and Silver: Cool, icy blues and silver colors can create a wintery and magical feel for your photos. You can choose outfits with silver or metallic accents or use silver ornaments, snowflakes, or tinsel as props.

    • Rich Jewel Tones: Deep and rich jewel tones like emerald green, ruby red, and sapphire blue can add a touch of elegance and luxury to your winter photos.
    • Metallics/Sparkles: Gold, silver, and bronze metallics can add a festive and glamorous feel to your winter photos. You can use sparkly accessories or use metallic ornaments, garlands, or lights as props.
    • Holiday Colors: Red and green are classic holiday colors that can create a cheerful and festive feel for your winter photos. You can use holiday-themed props such as wreaths, stockings, or ornaments to create a holiday-inspired photo.
    • Plaids: Plaid patterns can be a cozy and classic choice for winter photos. You can choose from different types of plaids, such as buffalo check, tartan, or houndstooth.


A pregnant woman dressed in winter colors and holding her baby bump

For winter poses, capture couples in a tender embrace, sharing warmth and affection with hands entwined or heads resting on each other's shoulders. Children and siblings can be shown building a snowman, having a snowball fight, or simply enjoying the heavenly snowfall. Pets can join in on the fun, wearing cute winter accessories or playing in the snow alongside their family. You may have heard that the biggest faux pax of family photos is to be too matchy-matchy - while that’s true in every other instance, matching holiday pajamas are too cute not to try.

Photo Style/Backgrounds

Embrace the offerings of winter by capturing the enchanting snowfall, twinkling holiday lights, or the warm glow of a fireplace. Don't forget to capture the laughter, joy, and tenderness of your family members, creating cherished memories that will last a lifetime.

    • Snowy landscapes: If you have access to a snowy area, it can provide a beautiful and wintery background for your photos. You can use snow-covered trees, snow banks, or ice-covered lakes as a backdrop.
    • Cozy interiors: A cozy interior with a fireplace, blankets, or hot cocoa can provide a warm and inviting background for your winter photos. You can use holiday decorations, such as a Christmas tree or menorah as a prop.
    • Cityscapes: Urban areas with festive lights, colorful storefronts, or ice-skating rinks can provide a vibrant and lively background for your winter photos.
    • Winter gardens: Gardens with evergreen plants, holly berries, or frosted leaves can provide a natural and festive background for your winter photos. You can use garden benches, snow-covered paths, or winter flowers as props.


Women’s Family Photo Outfits—Called to Surf

Family photo with mom wearing a white dress, dad in black, and baby wearing overalls in the grass

The whole point of family photos is to showcase your family! While coordinating outfits, locations, and poses can be stressful, try to remember that what’s most important is the people in the photo. Don’t let Pinterest convince you that you need to look like any other family than your own. These are simply suggestions to help you, your little ones, and your partner show up as your best selves on picture day. For more outfits for your next family photo session, browse Called to Surf’s new arrivals.


Back to blog