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  • Writer's pictureKarly Bishop


In North Carolina it is Family Portrait season all year round with our beautiful beaches and lushes Appalachian Mountains. However, living only 10 minutes from Wrightsville Beach this photographer stays close to home when capturing her family sessions.

LOCATION: When preparing for your family session the best place to start is knowing your shooting location. Once you decided on that the rest of the fun can begin.

When shooting at the Beach we recommend choosing colors that are more on the neutral spectrum or more earthy tones. (Example below) The tones on the left are softer and blend well with the white sand and sea grass textures, while the colors on the right pull from some of the bolder colors but yet still complement the softer side. TIP: flowy dresses, lace or thick-knitted clothing pieces photograph beautifully at the beach. Big bulky patterns tend to be distracting against the neutral sand - We suggest running the pattern by your photographer for their thoughts before session.

If your wanting a location that brings more depth to your images we'd recommend choosing a Local Park (Long Leaf Park, Green Field Lake Park, NHC Arboretum) The greenery and variety of lighting options from the trees makes for plenty of backdrops and is a great selling point if you have children that would enjoy so play time after your session. (If they aren't pooped from all the modeling fun.) Our editing style looks AMAZING with warm colors and earthy tones so colors like Brick Red, Rust Orange, Gold, Khaki, and creams will POP against the forest background. For the more neutral looking color scheme colors like Navy Blue, Sage green, Fawn Brown and Camel look beautiful within nature as well. TIP: Patterns like Plaid, Smaller prints, Jean look great -- Textures or layered fabric and clothing are highly recommend to add more personality to your images.

Another backdrop that Wilmington offers for family photos is Downtown Wilmington. Though not super popular in comparison to alternative backdrops here in Wilmington Urban styled Family Sessions are defiantly an option. Our Historical buildings display many textures, the most popular being brick. With that comes a lot of line and textures so in the case of downtown less is more. What does that mean for you? Well for Urban shoots I don't mind stepping away from the color wheel and recommend textured black clothing and white. Though I wouldn't say "wear all black" its for sure a option to help you stand out from the background but and not blend in with it. Other great option is to style a look with more edgy, or fitted clothes like Leather jackets, lighter Jeans, White sneakers and even a graphic tee. Solid colors are another great option for urban styled family sessions. An If your town has a top floor parking deck that isn't busy that is another great spot to avoid high foot traffic areas and to get some cool golden hour shots.

Our style colors cater more to warmer / "fall colors" but we know the season change and during our early spring months we like to switch up our recommended colors. Here are some of our Spring recommended colors for your family session. These colors look great at Sunrise Beach sessions and Morning Gardens.



We went over locations and colors that best complement those selected surroundings, but what about actually choosing what to wear.

First thing first, though family pictures are mostly to capture you're growing and forever changing family its also for YOU. I know, I know "It's mostly for the kids," but don't forget about your journey as a parent and as someone who may not be in many pictures due to you being the one taking them most of the time. When you look at your images I want to make sure YOU as the parent feel confident and good. With that being said make sure to pick aN outfit that makes you feel GOOD. When you look in the mirror you feel comfortable and confident. Once you have found your look then picking colors, textures and patterns can begin.

Come as you want to be photographed, If you have pants with a stain or a top that you know gaps in the front in a way you you wouldn't want captured in all of your photos keep that in mind when picking your looks.

  • Make sure your clothing is clean, unwrinkled, and ready to go. Extra outfits should be brought on hangers. Stains and wrinkly clothes never photograph well! -- This applies to your shoes as well.

  • Make sure to try everything on before your session date to make sure it flatters you and that you really love the way it looks.​

  • *Important Ladies* Make sure to wear skin-toned undergarments to avoid potentially seeing them due to thin/see-through fabrics or in case of an outfit malfunction. Also, keep in mind what bra style will work best for each outfit. (Bralette, Normal, Strapless or Stickies)


  • Decide to a color scheme and stick to it! Make sure your color fits your location- you don't want to blend into the background. See swatches above for color inspo!!!

  • Dress the kids in what they like to wear. A hat or a headband that you already know they're happy with is always a good idea. Be cautious with new outfits - uncomfy kids make bad photos.

  • Lay out everyones looks on your bed or on the floor in front of you and see what your outfits look like all together.

  • Where clothes that make you feel confident and look like YOU! In other words if you're not walking around in suits and ties or extravagant dresses don't feel obligated too in your pictures.


  • Don't pair too many patterns together. If you do decide to wear a pattern make sure it's not overwhelming or distracting and mix it with the corresponding solid or add layers for texture.

  • Don't try to match or wear the same color. Instead chose outfits and colors that compliment each other.

  • Clothes that have obvious brand logos on them. Over the years I've seen my fair share logos on photoshoots. That's why I try to make it known to leave the logos at home. Sports brand clothing is nice but for family pictures switch the Nike check mark our for a simple button down or solid tee.


  • Don't get your hair done the day before. If you want fresh hair, do it a week before your session so you are not stuck with any color or style surprises.

  • Note for the boys: Make sure to trim your neck hairs the day before you shoot. For experience Ive had many clients show up to a shoot stating they wish/forgot to trimmed their husbands neck hair before the pictures. An though I don't mind it is a simple touch that helps make your images more clean and put together if you notice details like that.

  • Nail polish is always fun to play around with, but make sure you clean up any chipped polish before your shoot. This included your little ones. It's another small detail, but one that can take away from an images. Keep this in mind as well if you frequently get your nails done and know your session is coming up soon to trade in bold colors for more neutral ones.

TIP: We Love our warm weather and beach days here but make sure you aren't getting to toasty at the beach within a week before your session. Sun burns, Major tan lines and pealing skin are never fun.


FINAL PREP Prepare your family! Tell them you will be “hanging out with our friend Karly on Saturday!” or “going to the park to play!” and keep things fun, lighthearted, and casual. Families have shared that this tip is especially helpful if they have a particularly shy child.

Make sure everyone gets a good nights sleep, good naps and eats a good meal before hand, hangry babies hate having their photo taken!!

Come into your session with an open mind. Sometimes meeting me for the first time, or even having photos done for the first time can be nerve racking. Come into the session with an open mind and experience it all with me! My mission is to make sure everyone feels comfortable and is having fun.

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