There’s nothing dreamier than getting a photo of your entire family, wearing color-coordinated clothes, and standing in a beautiful golden light that’s reflecting off of the ocean. Booking a photographer, picking a location, and finding a time when everyone is free can sometimes feel overwhelming when trying to plan family pictures. The last thing you want to worry about is what everyone is wearing. 

Should everyone wear the same colors? Should they just wear their favorite outfits? Should you match your background? There are countless ways to go about styling a family photo shoot, and we’re here to make that process a little bit easier. We’ve put together our “what to wear guide” for family photos, including a variety of styles and tastes. 

Coastal Colors

One of the most popular choices for family beach pictures is coastal colors. “Coastal colors” is open to interpretation but it is generally made up of muted blues, grays, greens, peach tones, and tans. While that sounds like a lot of colors to add to a single photo, they complement each other and the scenery perfectly so it won’t look overwhelming. Coastal colors are one of the best ways to stay true to the “beachy” theme while complementing any background your photographer places you in front of. 

Jewel Tones

If neutrals aren’t your thing, but you don’t want to clash with the colors of the beach, opt for rich jewel tones. Jewel tones will pop against the cool colors in the background, especially if you’re on a beach with soft white sand. Jewel tones are colors derived from gemstones such as sapphire, ruby, and emerald. 

Examples of jewel tones include deep blues, reds, purples, greens, and yellows. This gives you a wide range of colors to work with that are guaranteed to blend well with each other and pop against the neutral background of the beach. 

Prints and Basics

If a photograph full of neutrals doesn’t sound exciting to you, you might want to spice up your wardrobe collection with a mix of basics and prints. While dressing each family member in a print might look overwhelming in a photo, choosing a few people to wear complimentary patterns will liven up your photo and add an exciting and unique element.

For those not wearing pattern-free clothes, the colors should complement or match those that are featured in the patterns. This will add a level of coercion to the entire group that photographs well. 

All White

Nothing screams “family photo on the beach” more than an all-white wardrobe. If you want your photo to emulate the relaxed feel of sitting on the beach, or if you don’t want to worry about color coordination, tell everyone to throw on an all-white outfit. 

Be sure to let your photographer know you are planning on wearing all white so they can scope out locations with some color in the background. Standing against the ocean or lush beach grasses will perfectly complement the subtlety of your wardrobe. 

Kids Matching

Finding clothes that are comfortable for your kids, and pieces they actually like can feel extremely difficult. If your kids aren’t old enough to pick their own clothes, you might want to consider putting them in matching outfits. This will eliminate any comparisons or jealousy, and it will make the process of buying their outfits for family pictures much easier. 

You can even center the outfit colors of the adults around the patterns in the children’s clothes. This will make your kids feel special and make getting dressed much simpler for the entire family. 

Breezy Outfits

Take advantage of the warm tropical breeze and slip on an outfit that can blow in the wind. While you might think this will look distracting in a photo, it actually adds to the beachy look. For feminine options, slip on a long billowing skirt or dress that is breathable and moves with the wind. For masculine options, consider wearing an untucked linen shirt that hangs loosely on the body and flows freely. 

Your photographer will have fun capturing the movement in your outfits, and you won’t have to worry about being uncomfortable all day in clothes that are stiff or tight. 

Straw Accents

If everyone has their outfit ready to go and you are looking for the final touch, consider adding some straw accents. Accessories made from paper straw or a raffia material have become iconic symbols of beach trips, and they will totally elevate your family’s photo.

Consider throwing on a straw hat or holding a raffia tote bag when it’s time for photos to be taken.

Match Your House

While we have given you ways to coordinate your wardrobe to complement the beach, it’s time to consider how the photograph will look in your home. After all, you will probably want a few nice prints of this family photo shoot hung up around your house. So, you need to consider: what wardrobe pieces would best compliment the colors inside your home? 

We aren’t saying the prints you hang on the wall need to match your interior decorating perfectly, but they could add a sophisticated element to the room if they are at least coordinated. If you have a minimalist style, consider neutral, coastal tones. If your style could be described as colorful or maximalist, maybe opt for jewel tones or pattern mixing. 


Remember to consider footwear when planning your family photos. It’s easy to have every piece of the wardrobe and complimenting accessories planned, while totally forgetting to think about your feet. Many families opt for a no-shoes rule when taking photos on the beach, and this gives your photo a casual and relaxed element. 

However, if you want your photo to read a little more sophisticated or stylized, remember to map out everyone’s footwear. We recommend wearing opened-toed shoes, as sneakers or closed-toed heels can look unnatural or uncomfortable on the beach. Slip-on strappy sandals or some open-toe espadrilles to finish off your beachy look. 


Another aspect of a family photo that often gets overlooked when trying to coordinate and plan the wardrobe is hairstyles. If you or other family members have long locks, you might want to consider pinning them back. The wind next to the water can be pretty gusty, and you don’t want that to ruin your photo shoot. 

Play with different hairstyles in the days leading up to the family photos, finding a way to pin back, at minimum, the hair right around your face. There is no need to spend your time worrying about the wind or constantly trying to move the hair out of your face. 

Photo Shoot Ready

There are countless colors and patterns that will look wonderful for a family photo shoot on the beach. You just have to sit down and consider what will be the easiest, what will match your personal taste, and what will coordinate with the interior of your home. 

And, at the end of the day, getting your family together for a professional photo that will last a lifetime is special no matter what you are wearing. 


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