As a seasoned beach photographer, I've captured countless family memories along the Emerald Coast in my 5+ years of photographing subjects. In this updated 2023 guide, I'll share tips on choosing the perfect outfits for your family beach photos, covering fabrics, fits, accessories, and color schemes. With practical and reliable advice, you'll be well-prepared for a stunning beach photo session.
What to wear for Family Beach Photos?
If you want to know how to look good in family beach photos, you'll need to spend some time planning your outfits. Before we get into the colors to wear for your beach pictures, let's talk about clothing fabrics and accessories that work best for beach pictures. When planning a beach photo session, there's a couple considerations you'll want to have in mind for your wardrobe:
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.
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.
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). We're more than happy to join you in the water to get some truly unique portraits!
Best colors for Family Beach Photos
Now, let's talk about the color scheme you choose for your beach pictures. Colors are important for family photography, as they help emphasize family ties and express mood and emotion. In fact, color is so important it can even affect our mood. You can learn more about color psychology here, but here's a few color schemes that are traditionally used for family photos:
Monochromatic colors are commonly used in 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. In these family beach pictures, 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 family bonds.
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, like they did in this beach portrait session on Pensacola Beach.
Analogous Colors fit side by side on the color wheel. This pattern is commonly seen in nature and is also used extensively used in paintings! Conventional usage of analogous color schemes relies on one dominant color, with the other colors used as accents. In this example, the family used the aqua color as the dominant tone, with the teal and blue patterned shirts as accents. I typically advise clients not to wear patterned outfits to portrait sessions because they distract from the subject (which is you and your family!), but in this case these patterned shirts ended up complimenting the image because they fit the color scheme of the family.
Wearing whites on the beach is a timeless classic for family photography. We at AHP also love this style! You can wear whites with cargo shorts, jeans, swim trunks, etc. For this choice, I'd recommend following a monochromatic color pattern for the bottoms, such as this family did with matching blue jeans:
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 not 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 or analogous? Wearing whites are a popular choice too. If you'd like to see how certain color schemes would look, you can check out this interactive color wheel.
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, analogously, or with complementary colors, and don't show up wearing neon (unless you really want to make a statement). Planning a family beach session? Check out even more tips for the best family beach pictures.
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.