Ah, summer time. School’s out, pools are open, and the days are long. Summer is also a great time of year to plan family photos. And if you’re near a beach or planning to vacation near one, you have a great opportunity. So if you’re looking for the best beach family photo ideas, I’ve got you covered!
Not near a beach? Don’t worry! This guide of the best summer family photo tips will make sure you capture those family photo memories, no beach needed 🙂
Family vacations are an excellent chance to get some great photos because of all the beautiful beaches you can visit. (Unless you live by the beach… if so, lucky you! You can do beach family photos any time of the year!) And while there are lots of creative beach photography ideas to choose from, you really can’t go wrong with the scenery. The sand, the sky, the ocean are all great backdrops!
Very little editing is needed when it comes to family photos at the beach. The natural environment and lighting is super flattering for everyone and the beauty is truly everywhere so there is no “bad angle” or “bad background!”
Another great advantage to beach family photos is that you can generally find enough space for a large group of family members. Even if it’s a very public beach, accommodating the whole family is usually a breeze.
A family beach photo session would also be an excellent idea as a gift for a grandparent during an extended family beach vacation. Perfect chance to capture cousin photos, multigenerational pictures, and for grandparents to get into the pictures too!
Speaking of breezes, there’s another advantage: though it’s probably going to be a hot day if you’re taking photos in the summer, you have the ocean breeze to cool you off! Plus, the literal ocean! The best thing is that once you’re done with your family beach photos, you get to hang out on the beach!
Another perk is the weather. Summer rain showers are common at the beach but they are typically very fast moving and can easily be waited out rather than rained out altogether.
We’ve taken summer family photos almost every year, and at least a few of those have been beach sessions! It’s so much fun to make a whole day out of it. We also got married on the beach (at sunrise!) so beach photos have a special meaningful spot in our hearts too.
So without further ado, let’s dive into the best beach family photo ideas! We’ll cover locations, outfits, creative ideas for poses, and more!
Tips for Getting Great Beach Pictures
- Choose a local photographer who knows how to get the best lighting and angles on the beach! Looking at their portfolios will give you a good idea of what kind of experience they have with family photo sessions on a beach. Finding a photographer who specializes in family photography is always a plus! (Our family photographer, Captured by Colson, lives in South Georgia and often travels to nearby beaches for photo sessions – including our beach sessions too!)
- Plan it out, mark your calendar, and make sure everyone in your family knows that this is definitely happening! If you’re including extended family it’s important to make sure everyone is in agreeance on the photos being taken, you don’t want someone making grumpy faces the whole session 😉
- Solid colors are the least distracting, but if you want to mix and match patterns, the best way is to lay the clothing out on a bed ahead of time to make sure it all meshes well together!
- Expect wind. Beaches get windy! Ladies, load up on the hairspray. Also avoid any clothing items that are long, floppy, or ruffled, because they’re probably going to fly around and get annoying. Be aware of the wind when choosing your outfit. I had a session where I chose a long dress that looked awesome on me in front of the mirror but then the wind made the fabric cling to my body in strange, unexpected ways and I ended up not really loving how I looked in the photos.
- Avoid shiny jewelry! Simple pieces are okay, but anything shiny or sparkly is going to catch the light and maybe distracting.
- Pick a time when the sun isn’t at its highest point in the sky. The best time to get beach photos is around sunset or sunrise, the “golden hour” when the light isn’t as harsh! But in general, just try to avoid high noon so you’re not squinting and sweating as much!
- Don’t choose a photographer who overly edits their photos. The beach provides gorgeous natural colors and lighting and is a timeless location. You don’t want to lose the beauty by having the images be overly edited or look dated due to some trendy photography effects.
- Don’t shy away from black and white! Yes, the natural colors are beautiful and you want plenty of those but classic black and white is also a great way to achieve that timeless effect.
- Practice your natural smile! And don’t forget to relax your jaw when you’re not posing so you don’t get face cramps. Keep it upbeat and fun for the kids so you don’t get that “dead behind the eyes” smile either (mama’s know what I’m talkin’ about)
- Don’t forget the sunscreen! But either use the quick-dry stuff, or give it enough time to absorb so you don’t have sand sticking to your legs/everywhere! (The same goes with using lotion!) Sunscreen can cause a sheen on the skin that may look greasy or leave a white residue so you really want to make sure it’s fully dry before the session.
- If you have tan lines, you may want to consider clothing that covers them up!
- Schedule the session at the start of a trip. By having the photos early in your vacation you avoid concerns about sunburn or even injuries (I swear my kids always end up with a random scrape on their faces). Plus by having the photo session out of the way at the beginning it frees you up to eat whatever you want without worrying about how you’ll look or feel during the session 😉
- Remove your sunglasses at least an hour before the session so your eyes have time to adjust to the light. This avoids squinting and those red marks you get on your nose!
- Bring water and snacks! Photo sessions are tiring, especially for little kids. It’s easier to get them to smile for one more picture when they’re not hungry or thirsty… and when you can use food as an incentive!
Outfit Choices for a Beach Photoshoot
When choosing what to wear for your beach family pictures, think about a light and airy color palette! Even though you’ll be on a beach, it’s still likely going to be hot. Therefore, light colors and fabrics are great choices. But don’t be dismayed: bold choices work, too! Here are some inspiration photos and beach picture ideas to help get you started:
Of course, there is always the timeless look of pairing white clothing with matching pants.
For little girls or the women in the family, white dresses are also a great choice. For the boys or men, white polo shirts and khaki pants or khaki shorts. So many picture ideas involve this color pallet!
White shirts could also be worn by all members of the family, with different styles depending on the person.
If you do choose white, here are a few tips:
- Make sure all clothing is pure white, not off-white or cream so that it stands out against the colors of the sand.
- Purchase as much of the white clothing as you can from the SAME retailer. Shades of white can vary from place to place and if you’re wanting the super matchy-matchy all-white look having someone be in a slightly different shade of white can really throw everything off and often…you may not notice the difference in the shade until you get your photos back from the photographer and then it’s too late! I had this happen to me and couldn’t even tell the shades of white were different until after the photos were taken. And we had the session on our 10th wedding anniversary in Mexico so it’s not like we could do them over either!
- If the fabric is thin, be sure to wear light undergarments beneath it! If you’re not sure, try it on in front of a mirror in a well-lit room. That will give you a good idea.
- Whether you choose khakis or jeans (and I do recommend one or the other!) make sure they’re all roughly the same shade so they don’t clash!
Shades of Blue
To be honest, I’m not a fan of the white-on-white look for family photos. I love mixing it up and adding in color and keeping my family coordinated but also without looking too matchy-matchy either. Light blues are also a favorable option for beach pictures, which can be paired easily with a nude color for a breezy look and adds a soft, inviting vibe to the photo shoot. I LOVE blue as a photo color pallete!
If you can time your photos at sunset with your family photographer, you can get some beautiful effects! Having a later in the day time slot not only allows for a beautiful skyline but it also tends to be a less crowded time at the beach and invites a bit of a cooler breeze as well.
I love the way our shades of blue color scheme came together for our family beach photos in July 2016. These are some of my favorite family pictures EVER!
White and blue are great for a beachy, nautical look! Here are a few examples where ladies wore white and men wore blue:
Another color scheme that looks great on a beach are pastel blues and pinks, usually with some bright white pops mixed in with those soft, beautiful shades!
Bold Color Palettes
If you prefer more pop, bold colors like blue and yellow with white or neutrals mixed in can add some visual interest to your family beach pictures without being too busy.
Here are some other bold color choices that work well:
Fancy Beach Photos
I really loved the idea of dressing fancy for our family beach photos in July 2019. I searched high and low for the perfect outfits for our family and went with a very neutral color pallet. Soft pinks, tans, whites, and even a pop of dark gray that brought it all together.
My kids LOVED the chance to dress a little fancier than usual and the end results were something special and photos we’ll cherish forever!
A big tip when taking any family photos is to always make sure to take time out to get individual photos of the children and a few couples-only photos too. I love having pictures of just my husband and I as well as always make sure to get individual pictures of each of us with each child on their own too!
Fun Beach Picture Posing Ideas
Now that we’ve talked about some beach family photo ideas for outfits, let’s talk about poses! During your family photo session, you’ll probably go through quite a few. But if you want some ideas or direction for specific photos, here is some inspiration!
Of course your photographer will also have suggestions and ideas. I recommend reviewing concepts that you like and making suggestions up front of anything you really want to make sure to do during your session. Otherwise, let your photographer lead! They have experience and will help ensure your images are special.
All Lined Up
Lining everyone up in front of the ocean is a great way to get a full shot of a large group. I love this one that put everyone in height order from the middle out:
This is a super cute concept for extended families as well. Lining up all the cousins in height, or birth, order is a great image to recreate over the years as everyone grows up 🙂
And then, once you’ve done the formal photo, you can have everybody jump! Kids love this one, and if you can time it right, it comes out looking really cool!
This is a great way to get those smiles and giggles going and to have a less posed, more candid end result that really highlights the unique and individual personalities 🙂
I do NOT recommend having the kids play in the sand or water at the beginning of the photo session…because once they start it’ll be hard to get ’em to stop!
However, we’ve used the fun surroundings as a great incentive for our kids while taking family photos at the beach. If they knock out the ones we need to get then they can HAVE AT IT.
Let them run in the sand, splash in the waves! Get in and play with them! Your clothes can all be washed later and letting lose and having fun gives an awesome opportunity for some really special candid photos of your family being a family! I think I cherish our playtime family beach photos most of all. I love seeing my kids with their natural, joyful smiles and seeing them interact together.
On (or Under) the Boardwalk
Not everyone loves the feeling of sand in their toes. Sand can be hot! It can be itchy! It can be uncomfortable. We had a session where our toddler simply refused to put down his feet in the sand! Thankfully we were near a boardwalk area which provided the perfect location. Allowing all of us to be comfortable and still showcasing the beautiful ocean behind us.
Using a pier or a beach access like the ones below as a framing device creates visual interest and helps guide the eye to your smiling faces!
The beach access boardwalk also adds texture and a variety of color to the images. Bringing a more natural feel and lots of depth!
On the Rocks
If the beach you’re taking pictures at has rock formations, they can make a great place to sit and can be used as an interesting backdrop and add some depth and variety to your family photoshoot.
If the sun is out (and it probably will be!) work with it, not against it, to create some dreamy effects!
Looking Forward and Behind
Have everyone look out at the ocean as the waves roll in… and then look back at the camera! I love how sweet these look, and the ocean view is breathtaking!
Written in the Sand
For a fun bonus photo to add on to your creative beach pictures, I love the idea of writing your family’s name in the sand and getting a photo of everyone’s sandy feet!
We also utilized the beach vibes during one of our beach family photo sessions to showcase a special object that had a lot of meaning. We had just started our adoption process and I wore a bracelet that had our adoption Motto of “Step out in Faith” on it to remind me to keep the faith during our adoption journey. I love that our photographer noticed the bracelet and suggested taking the photo. It meant so much to me then but now it means even more as I look back at that time in our lives and the story that brought us our son!
Hopefully now that you’ve seen so many creative beach photo ideas, you’re ready to go take some amazing family portraits! Whether you plan on framing them, sharing them on social media, or both, remember that the most important thing is that you have fun and enjoy that beach!
Hopefully these family picture ideas help to inspire your perfect family photos at the beach!
If you’ve done beach family pictures before, I’d love to hear what your experience was like and what tips you’d recommend!