Beach time is here. Incredible photo opportunities showing off family, friends and beautiful beach scenarios are always a part of the fun. Personally, I love to have my camera ready at all times to capture the endless beauty, colors and textures gorgeous beaches and their inhabitants have to offer.
Taking great pictures surrounding love and togetherness that family, friends and people-watching can provide makes for sweet memory-makers. That said, little details do matter when shooting a great picture. One of those little details is knowing the best colors to wear for photos on the beach.
Best colors to wear for photos on the beach
Complementary clothes colors make beach photos more cohesive and less distracting. For example, I love the classic group photo shot of a family wearing white shirts and khaki pants. This color combination doesn't compete with its outdoor surroundings and optimizes the photo's main focus - family.
Wearing white offers a clean and refreshing tone to beach pictures. Pristine isn't usually the word I think of when on the beach due to nature's elements. So, adding white against grassy dunes, blue oceans and brown mountains actually spruces up the scene.
White and bright colors play entertaining games with the eye. They attract the eye like honey to a bee, which makes photographing with all kinds of colors so much fun. But, white isn't the only color of consistency to play with, especially if beaches are already white.
Colors of consistency
Beach photos look great when wearing almost any color. The trick is to make the colors work for the subject(s) and backgrounds involved. For example, I love bright colors like yellow, oranges and reds on people with tan or darker skin tones. Choosing one of these three color ranges keeps the photo consistent while creating images that almost pop out of the picture.
The same rule of thumb works for lighter colors, like pastel greens, blues and purples. Keep colors unified for each person for a polished photo. I guess you could say it's almost like creating a color-themed photo when it comes to wearing the right colors on the beach. Keeping colors all light or all dark works well in beach photos.
Perfectly matchy-matchy outfitting isn't necessarily the goal when photographing on the beach. But, consistency is the goal. That means, identical outfitting can work as well as outfitting with similar styles and color ranges.
Let's say he likes purple and she likes pink. This color range works well together because they are both closely related on the color wheel. They both contain blues within their shades which complement each other.
Planning beach outfitting ahead of time sure helps me take better photos with better end results. It's a great idea to just lay out clothing before the photos to get a visual feel of the overall color-consistency. If it seems or feels imbalanced, it probably is.
Helpful color-balancing tips
Over-complicating anything never seems to pay off well, even in photographs. Keeping colors simplified works wonders. If I had to suggest one simple rule of thumb to follow for taking great beach pictures, I would say to use solid colors only.
Some folks love prints, patterns and livelier accents, like ruffles, layers and jewelry over-statements. These are great details to appreciate at home and not-so-great details to add to beach photographs. As favored as they may be, they do tend to create visual distraction, imbalance and a sense of confusion to photographs. Keep it simple.
Lines, patterns and solids
As I look to my left, to my right and all around, I see that the world around me is made up of lines, solids and patterns. Each of these contain distinct color ranges and visual effects in my mind's eye. Such as it is at the beach. With so much detail in one place, it makes sense to keep the main subject matter toned down to create a more distinct focal point.
Placing colorful patterns too closely together in a small space can significantly change the whole atmosphere of the photo's meaning and purpose. Avoid wordy or pictorial clothing pieces also. As a reminder, the beach serves the biggest purpose or backdrop where textures are concerned. Where clothing comes in, think basic, non-patterned and solid-color outfitting.
When photographing subjects on the beach, my eyes quickly move toward the lines within the frame. Keeping clothing colors and lines simple makes for a more precise end result. For example, if shoes and socks are worn, they present additional details. Using lighter colors here can help. Keeping the eye cool, calm and collected can actually accentuate memories of connection, joy and camaraderie.
It isn't completely necessary to wear just one color. Contrast is okay as long as it doesn't overpower the lighter color. As I mentioned earlier, khaki and white go nicely together. Khaki does not consume they eye, as it also accents the crisp, clean color of white.
I also like to play with basic darker colors. Navy blue pants with a brighter neutral or pastel color top are contrasting, but actually handle their opposing visual weights well. Experiencing a sense of visual flow and easy-on-the-eye satisfaction means I am on the right photo-track.
Life is all about the colors of our experiences. Photographing wonderful beach moments like the professionals isn't hard to do. My gift to you - just keep it simple!
Related: Top Tripods for Beach Photography
Megan Jones is the lead author of Seaside Planet. She is an avid surfer, scuba diver, and travel enthusiast who takes any opportunity she can to spend time in the ocean. You can learn more about Meg and the rest of the editorial team here.