What to Wear for Your Beach Portraits 

One of the most common questions I receive as a family photographer is, “What should we wear for our beach portraits?” Being a professional photographer with an emphasis on newborn, beach, and motherhood sessions, I have a ton of advice to impart! Your outfits play a huge role in the overall aesthetic and vibe of your photos. With the right wardrobe choices, your beach portraits will turn out beautifully natural, vibrant and timeless.

Start with Mom’s Outfit

When picking out what to wear, I always recommend starting with Mom’s outfit first. As the mama, you’ll want to feel confident and comfortable. A long, flowy dress is the perfect option – it photographs beautifully with the ocean breeze. Look for floaty fabrics like chiffon or crepe that skim your curves nicely.

A few pointers for selecting the ideal dress:

  • Avoid anything too short, tight or strapless which can limit your poses
  • Opt for a dress that hits around your shins or all the way to the ground
  • A subtle pattern or print can add lovely movement
  • Look for versatile styles like a wrap dress or off-the-shoulder neckline
  • Consider sleeve length – tanks, halters and cap sleeves all work well

Once you’ve found your dream dress, that will guide the color palette for the rest of the family’s outfits. I have a client closet you can browse, or I’m happy to help you go through options from home. We want you to feel amazing!

Choose Your Color Palette

When it comes to colors for beach portraits, I recommend selecting 2-3 hues that complement each other and Mom’s dress. Some of my favorite palette combinations include:

  • Shades of blue, white and tan (very coastal-inspired)
  • Bright pops of color like fuchsia, turquoise or lemon
  • Softer palettes with muted tones like dusty rose, sage and creams
  • Classic navy and white

You can also draw colors from patterns in Mom’s dress. Maybe it has accents of coral and olive – we can incorporate those! The goal is to look cohesive yet not overly “matchy.”

dresses for Beach portraits

Vary Textures and Incorporate Patterns

To add visual interest and keep things from looking too matching. Vary the textures of your outfits and mix in a few patterns. Textured fabrics like linen, chambray, eyelet, lace and crochet look beautiful. You can even mix in a printed dress or patterned button-down shirt.

For example, maybe Mom’s in a solid coral maxi dress. We can put Dad in a subtle striped linen button-down. One daughter could wear a white eyelet dress, while the other has a soft blue linen romper.

mom's dress for beach portraits

Keep it Cohesive for Kids

For kids’ outfits, you may want to keep it even more coordinated with a “signature” color. Maybe all the boys wear different shades of blue, or all the girls have printed dresses in the same palette. Just vary slightly with each child’s clothing. This gives a cohesive look while still allowing their personalities to shine.

Don’t Forget About Dad!

Dads sometimes get forgotten in the outfit planning! Have him compliment Mom’s dress with a linen button-down, patterned shirt or sleek chino shorts. Avoid plain white tees or cargo shorts which can look too casual.

If Mom’s wearing a bold print, Dad can go for a solid color on the bottom with a casual untucked top. Or if Mom prefers a soft neutral palette, Dad can add a pop of color with bright sandals or patterned shorts.

Stay Cool and Comfy

One perk of beach portraits is being able to go shoe-free! I recommend avoiding any shoes and just walking barefoot in the sand. This adds to the relaxed, carefree vibe.

Also consider light, breathable fabrics that won’t have you all sweating before we even get started. Lightweight cotton, linens and rayon blends are perfect for the beach’s warm temperatures.

The Most Important Thing

The most important thing is that you all feel comfortable, confident and true to yourselves. Being relaxed and in the moment will translate into your portraits. At the end of the day, we’re focused on capturing radiant, joyful memories – not just pretty outfits.

I can’t wait to work together on creating beautiful heirloom artwork for your home! Let me know if you need any other tips or wardrobe guidance. See you at the beach!