Best Colors to Wear for Photos on the Beach

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Are you preparing for family photos and wondering what the best colors to wear for photos on the beach are? You’ve come to the right place! The beach offers incredible photo opportunities, and by wearing colors that compliment the natural marine world around you you’re photos will be even more beautiful than you had imagined. 

Dressing for family photos can pose many questions, but above all else, outfit choices should be comfortable and authentic to the individuals. You’ll likely want to wear hair pulled back, and have a meal before the shoot so everyone is happy and relaxed, not aching to get done with the shoot and onto dinner. Remember while choosing outfits for your photoshoot, and during the shoot itself, to say calm and relaxed. Have fun and enjoy your time together, you’re not just capturing photos- you’re capturing memories to last a lifetime!

Before Choosing Outfitting

Before you choose outfits for yourself, and for your family, there are a few things you’ll need to keep in mind. The beach environment is quite different than that of a park, trail or other location. Dress for success on the beach, and in the photoshoot.

Here’s a few things to keep in mind before choosing beach photoshoot outfits:

  • Clothing will likely dirty. Besides walking in it, you’ll also likely be sit in the sand for photos, so make sure to wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • Clothing will get wet. Even if you’re not expecting to, you’re likely going to get wet when walking down the beach or even playing in the waves. 
  • Comfort is key. Keep everyone happy by wearing clothes that are comfortable to explore in. 
  • Consider bringing backup outfits in case of accident. Although you’re prepared to get dirty, if someone accidentally falls in the water it would be nice to have a plan b. 

When choosing which color and outfit to wear for a beach shoot, there are several things to keep in mind to create frame-worthy photos.

White and Bright

Nothing quite beats white outfitting for photos on the beach! Complementary clothes colors make beach photos more cohesive and less distracting. For example, the classic group photo shot of a family wearing white shirts and khaki pants is a beach classic. This color combination doesn't compete with its outdoor surroundings and optimizes the photo's main focus - the family.

Wearing white offers a clean and refreshing tone to beach photos, and it’s typically the first color the eye is drawn to. Much of the marine world is built of pastels, greys and different tones of brown, 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 beach locations are already heavily white in photos.

beach photography

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, bright colors, like yellow, orange and red on people with tan or darker skin tones are pleasing to the eye. 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. 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 together in beach photos, and is flattering to the subjects against the scenery.

Coordinating outfits

Perfectly matchy-matchy outfitting isn't necessarily the goal when photographing on the beach. Instead, consistency is the goal. That means, identical outfitting can work, and so can outfitting with similar or flattering 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, and without overdoing it these colors can work nicely together.

Planning beach outfitting ahead of time ensures better photos with better end results, and frame-worthy photos. It's a great idea to 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. Consider the colors of the beach around you, and how you want to look against it. 

beach photography

​Color balancing

Over-complicating anything never seems to pay off well, even in photographs. Keeping colors simplified works wonders. If we had to suggest one simple rule of thumb to follow for taking great beach pictures, it would be 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- you’ll be happier with the end results.

Lines, patterns and solids

As you look to you left, to your right and all around, you will see that the world around you is made up of lines, solids and patterns. Each of these contain distinct color ranges and visual effects in your 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 and balanced 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, your 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 your shoes and socks are worn, they present additional details. Using lighter colors here can help, like simple and skin toned footwear- or perhaps none at all. Keeping the eye cool, calm and collected can actually accentuate memories of connection, joy and camaraderie.

Additionally, it isn’t necessary to wear just one color. Contrast is okay as long as it doesn't overpower the balance with lighter colors in the frame. As we mentioned earlier, khaki and white go nicely together. Khaki does not consume the eye, and it also accents the crisp, clean color of the white against the blues and greys of the beach.

Darker colors can be fun to play with on the beach, too. 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.

happy family in a beach photo sho

​Final Thoughts

​Life is all about the colors of our experiences. Photographing wonderful beach moments is simple if you know what you’re going for in the end result. By understanding complimenting colors and balance within the photo, you’ll set your family up for beautiful photos, and memories, that’ll last forever. 

To sum up the basics for family photos on the beach:

  • You can’t go wrong with white
  • Complimentary colors are best
  • Matching is not necessary
  • Avoid patterns, lines and clothing with words
  • Contrast is good if it’s balanced
  • Mind the color scheme of the beach around you
  • Be consistent with colors
  • Keep it simple!

We’re inspired by this community of beach lovers, and love to hear personal tales. Do you have a fun or epic family beach photoshoot story? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Related: Top Tripods for Beach Photography