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Charleston Family Photos

Earlier this month we went to Charleston for our first week-long family vacation with kids (more on this next week). While we were there our good friend, Erin, captured some family photos for us at Boone Hall Plantation. I don’t share many personal things on the blog but I thought it would be fun to share these photos with you and give you some tips that we found helpful while planning for this session. Erin actually grew up in Zach’s hometown of Hendersonville, NC and will be in our neck of the woods at Sky Top Orchard September 24th-25th shooting fall mini-sessions. This would be a great time to plan a day trip to pick apples, eat apple donuts, capture some memories in your best fall gear and put these tips to good use!

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

I think the last time that we took professional photos as a family none of us had kids. So needless to say it was quite the adventure getting 4 little girls under the age of 3 ready for a family photo session, while coordinating and wearing white nonetheless. Before I go any further I do want to point out that these tips probably won’t be revolutionary by any means but just things you already might know or might need to be reminded of. So here goes nothing!

I think the first key to success in planning family photos is to schedule it for a time that you are already all together be it a vacation or home for the holidays. Find a local photographer that has somewhere he or she regularly shoots and you’ve already cut down on two stressful aspects of trying to pull this off – coordinating everyone’s schedules and trying to find a great spot for photos. Erin is an approved photographer at Boone Hall and knows the times they open, where to park, all the best spots, etc etc etc. It really is so great to have a photographer where you can just show up, try your hardest to look pretty and be told where to stand and when to smile.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

Then you have to talk what to wear. Whew, this is a big one! We decided the easiest thing to do was go pick a neutral color palette and accents of blue. We didn’t want to be the family in all jeans and white shirts but rather look more natural wearing clothes that we normally would just making sure we matched. We knew the surroundings would be very green and we knew the guys all had blue dress shirts so the girls all talked and decided to channel our inner Ralph Lauren and dress in shades of blue, white and khaki.

To make sure we coordinated we picked out the guys’ clothes first and made sure they weren’t all wearing khakis or weren’t all wearing navy pants and were all wearing a different shade of blue shirt. Not to say someone couldn’t have worn white but we had a pretty good idea the females would want to wear white and navy. Zach wore gingham, my father-in-law a blue dress shirt and my brother-in-law a chambray shirt. Then the girls coordinated to not all be wearing the same color and to make sure we matched our men. We tried to look at things knowing that we would be in a big family photo like the one above but also taking individual family photos like the one below. We wanted each family to have various shades of blue, whites and khaki so that there wouldn’t be one side of the photo with all navy and one side all white or vice versa. We also wanted to make sure that whenever we took photos of just our families the same look was achieved.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

Once you have your outfits in mind think through all of the photos you will want to take and make sure everything will look good. Like for instance you might look cute in a photo with your kids but are you and your husband going to look like you’re dressed for mixed doubles wearing the same color pants and top or are you going to be wearing clothes that compliment each other when it comes time to take couples pics? A good rule of thumb is don’t wear the same color on top or the same color on bottom and don’t just pick two colors and one of you wear say, navy on top and white on bottom and then your partner wear navy on bottom and white on top. Nobody wants to look like a checker board.


Make sure you move around and get photos in different spots too! This way you can have the same session all around your house and it won’t look like you have the same photo plastered everywhere. I love the contrast of the sandy road and then the wooden exterior of the cotton dock.


When you’re thinking through photos you want to take make sure you get photos of the whole family, individual family units, couples, cousins, siblings and for goodness sakes don’t forget one with the grands and the grand babies. Hello instant Christmas present!

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

For what to take with you make sure that you pack a quilt to sit on that matches what you’re wearing or is neutral, water and fans if it’s hot outside, makeup for touchups, snacks, toys or bubbles to distract the kids and lots and lots of bribes including suckers (but maybe not blue… we didn’t think through the whole mouth staining thing). If you are going to be walking a lot and have toddlers throw a wagon in your car and pull them around. Plus it would make for some really cute photos! Even if it’s colorful you could always make those black and white.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

Also don’t forget to take pictures of the OG family. (That’s original gangsta for all you non-millennials). Because while it’s great to have photos of what your family looks like today it’s also really fun to take photos of the family that started it all. Plus, you can look back at pictures of the (in this case) parents with their sons when they were little compared to now when they are men with families of their own.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

For a successful photo session plan time for play. Swing the kids in your arms, let them run and twirl and giggle and be mischievous. It really helps if you mix us the posed photos with carefree ones just letting the kids be themselves. Erin was a pro at this. She would pose us for photos and then let the girls run and play or have us walk with them as we were moving to the next spot.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

And last but not least please make sure to get candids. Get pictures of your kids crying, being naughty, rolling around and being whoever they are at this stage in their life. I know I’m fairly new to this whole mom gig but I have a feeling that in the years to come pictures like these are the ones that are really going to bring a smile to your face.

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

Charleston Family Photos, Neutral Family Photo Outfits

If you want to see more from this session you can check out Erin’s blog and don’t forget to sign up for her fall mini sessions! Now on to the stuff that some of you all might really be wanting to know…. the clothes. We’re mostly wearing a mixture of Nordstrom, Shopbop, J.Crew, Gap and Old Navy. I linked up as many items or similar items as possible below but several of them are sold out so if you’re looking for something specific let me know in the comments below!


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  1. Summer Hogan says:

    You guys are GORGEOUS!!!