“I want to take fall photos and use them on our Christmas card, but I want to be able to keep them up all year long without them looking like dark, fall photos. How should I style my session?” I get this question a lot this time of year.
And, I get it. When you’re planning your Christmas photos it’s easy to choose a dark sweater, jeans, and booties. And while that is a nice outfit, it isn’t the most photo-friendly. Because too often what happens is you go to print your photos and hang them around your home and then you realize just how dark the photos are and they don’t match any of your home decor.
You know what I’m talking about, right? The dark tree trunks, with the whole family in dark jeans, big sweaters, and scarfs…. ehhh. (Been there. Taken that bad photo.)
I have nothing against a gorgeous fall photo though! I love the natural colors of fall, the leaves changing, and the sweaters and booties. But there is a way to style your photos so that they are a bit more timeless and still light and airy, despite having the colors of fall in the photo.
So, my goal for this blog is to give you a few suggestions for late fall and winter that will still help you be fashion-forward and keep your color tones camera friendly.
Let’s Talk Colors
First, let’s talk about color palettes. This is the most important part of making sure that your photos are still light and airy, despite the season.
Just like in warmer weather, I recommend muted hues over bold, primary colors. During fall, warm neutrals like camel, taupe, cream, champagne, and gray are still going to look great.
Choose sophisticated jewel-toned versions of bright primary colors if you’d like to incorporate color.
Here are some examples: mustard over yellow, crimson or burgundy over red, camel over orange, sage or emerald over green, and powder blue or navy over blue. These jewel tones will photograph beautifully in any season.
Wear a Dress or an Outfit that Isn’t Obviously Seasonal
This takes a lot of intentionality while you are planning your session. I’ve found, even just while planning sessions for myself and my family, that when you are picking outfits in the middle of fall for your session, you naturally just are pulled to outfits that tend to look heavier or darker.
I suggest that you try finding an outfit that is neutral-colored (like I mentioned earlier), but could be worn all year round. Whether that be a nice blouse or a cocktail-length dress. Make sure the base of your outfit is classic and timeless.
You can always add on to your outfit with accessories that will lend your outfit to look more fall, like wearing a hat or adding a cardigan. You can then add these accessories into some photos and take them off for others.
This will add a lot of variety to your sessions. And give you BOTH those gorgeous fall photos and those timeless year-round photos.
How to Balance Heaviness
Another key thing to understand, while styling your fall photos, is where the heaviness of the photo is. Meaning, darker colors in your outfit make the photo look much darker or heavier. If not balanced well, you can quickly loose the light and airy feel of the photo.
For example, if one of you is wearing very dark jeans, the other may want to wear lighter pants. If one of you is wearing a navy top, the other shouldn’t wear a dark/heavy-colored top. To a certain degree, alternating the “heaviness” of your outfits can make your images look more balanced.
Little note: If you do want to wear a sweater in your photo, I do think it can pass as timeless and light and airy as long as you make sure it is either jewel-toned or neutral colored. And that it is nicely balanced with the other outfits in the photo.
What if it is Just Too Cold to Wear a Dress?
When seasons change and temperatures drop, sometimes it’s just too cold for a dress and heels by themselves (no matter how warm your coverup overcoat is). So here are a few quick tips:
Cold Weather Tips:
Add a peacoat, tights, scarves and heeled booties to a form-fitting cocktail dress.
You could wear a statement coat with a beanie, scarf and gloves OR a warm, oversized, snuggly sweater with tall boots and a hat. Both of these would still photograph amazing!
The great thing about snow is it creates a beautiful white backdrop, so even though it might seem counterintuitive, soft pastel, muted colors like soft pinks and powder blues still look great! And, I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned this but, regardless of the setting, you can never go wrong with neutrals!
I think styling your session for fall is a little bit of a balance, just simply because it is easy to lean toward those heavier colors. Hopefully, this was helpful to see some of the sneaky ways that your photos will begin to lose their light and airy feel and become dark and heavy, just because of a few small outfit decisions.
It’s amazing to me how just by having a better understanding of how to style your photos to be timeless, you really can have fall and Christmas photos that can sit on your nightstand and hang on your walls all year long! If you have any questions, I’m here for you! Just leave them in the comments below!
P.S. If you would like more help with planning and prepping for your session, I created a free portrait session checklist for you that you can grab below! 🙂