Updated: Mar 8
We're getting closer to the time of year where people flock to pristine Gulf Coast vacation hotspots like Destin Beach, Pensacola Beach, and Panama City for the summer. For those who aren't in the know, this particular stretch of the Gulf Coast is one of the best places to enjoy a holiday and get some stunning vacation beach pictures you can take home with you. While I believe in a 'come as you are' approach to beach portrait sessions, this handy guide will help you decide how to best dress for the occasion.
What to wear for family beach photos?
Let's talk about clothing and accessories to bring to your beach portrait session. When planning a beach photo session, there's a couple considerations you'll want to have in mind for your wardrobe:
Fabrics: cotton and linen materials are lightweight, breathable, and ideal for Florida's humid climate. You'll want to avoid heavy jackets or clothing that can absorb and hold water, especially if you plan on getting your feet wet during the session! Feel free to throw in a cardigan or sweater, however, for photo sessions during the morning or evening.
Fit: of course, when planning an outfit for beach pictures, one of the most important goals is to be comfortable in your own clothes. If you feel self-conscious in your outfit, it's going to show up in your photos. Keep this in mind when styling your fit, and take care not to choose anything that's too tight, restrictive, or just plain uncomfortable. The great advantage of family beach picture sessions is that you don't need to dress up super formally for them, so it's easy to find a comfortable outfit; some flip-flops, shorts, and a nice polo will do marvelously.
Accessories: lastly, let's talk about accessorizing your family photo outfit. Little accessories like jewelry or bracelets are a great way to add a personal touch to matching outfits, but I would offer a word of caution: don't bring anything to the beach that you aren't comfortable losing. The last thing you want to happen at the end of your photo session is to discover a sentimental earring or necklace is missing. It's also a good idea to bring a 'beach bag' that everyone can put their phones, wallets or any other things you don't want getting wet or sandy while the photography is happening.
Considerations: before settling on your wardrobe for the photo session, you'll want to decide with your family if you plan on getting in the water (even if just ankle deep). You'll also want to keep the weather in mind for when deciding your outfit.
Best colors for Family Beach Photos:
Another important aspect of your beach attire is the color scheme you choose. Colors are important for family photography, as they help emphasize family ties and express mood and emotion. Two popular color schemes for family portraits are monochromatic colors and complementary colors.
Monochromatic colors: these are probably the most common color patterns for family photoshoots. These are easy to create because a monochromatic color pattern only includes one color. This color scheme includes different tones from the same hue. Take this family for example; the husband and wife are following a monochromatic color scheme by wearing different shades of the same hue (blue, in this case). The end result is a color that not only contrasts them from their background, but also expresses their familial ties.
Complementary colors on the other hand, combine colors from opposite ends of the color wheel. This color scheme contrasts well, and can be a great choice for extended families or families with children. In this image, mom and dad have chosen to color contrast with their children using the complementary colors orange and teal. Personally, I think complementary colors are a very interesting and bold way to make your family portraits pop.
Colors to Avoid: you're really only limited by your imagination when it comes to choosing color schemes for a beach portrait session with your family. With that said, there's some colors that you might want to wear to a beach portrait session. Those would be neon colors, and large prints/patterned designs. The reason being is that these colors and designs are very eye-catching and can take away the attention from the people wearing the clothes.
Colors that photograph well: if you want some simple color ideas for your beach photoshoot, colors that match the local environment are a safe bet. Pastel blues, teals, and reds can photograph very well on the beach.
Considerations: some things to keep in mind when deciding the color pattern for your family beach pictures is the size of your family and the statement you want to make. Go bold with complementary colors, or stay traditional with monochromatic? All white outfits are a popular choice too, but you may want to consider the color of the sand you'll be photographed on. Florida beaches are known for their pristine white sands that may blend in with your outfits, whereas a more yellow sand would contrast white colors nicely.
I hope you found this information helpful! Remember, if you forget everything else you've read; the most important thing is to be comfortable in the clothes you wear, match outfits monochromatically or with complementary colors, and don't show up wearing neon (unless you really want to make a family statement). Most of the planning required for a family photoshoot is pretty straightforward, but if you're interested in making your session as smooth as possible (this is especially helpful for those who have young children), check out this article on planning a family photo session.
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Austen Hunter Photography is a Pensacola, Florida photographer who specializes in senior picture photography, beach photography, fashion photography, graduation photography, military portrait photography and headshot photography in a bold, graphic style, from Destin and 30A Florida, to Pensacola to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Alabama. Austen Hunter has been published internationally and is known for his bold, graphic, and clean photographic style. He uses a variety of both natural light and off-camera flash to capture images. People usually book Austen for outdoor portrait sessions or sessions conducted at his home studio.