The Annual Migration to the Beach. With Cameras.

Its that time of year when the flocks start arriving at the beach for warmth and sunshine. We’re not talking about birds coming back to their summer location. Families and photographers are heading to the beach for the family photos in coordinating colors that contrast beautifully with the sand and clear blue water setting.  Think getting away to play on a beach and wrapping up the Christmas card photo early.

The idea of organizing a family beach photo can be a bit daunting for even the bravest of moms, especially when small children are involved. So we checked in with moms and photographers who’ve survived the adventure and put together a list of helpful tips.

  • Many photographers head to the beach in the spring with their calendar full of family photos. Check to see if your photographer makes that journey to work with someone your little ones are comfortable with. If you’re booking with a new photographer, take the time to do some research and read their reviews. Don’t hesitate to call and talk to a couple of them before committing to one.
  • If the photo will take place during a beach vacation, plan it for the beginning of your trip before funky tan lines, sunburns, or over-stimulated/tired small children happen. Or over-stimulated and tired moms.
  • Make your photo shoot list carefully – water, snacks (dry, non-staining), extra clothes, beach towel (someone will get wet), favorite toys to help relax the kids, props such as pinwheels, more snacks.
  • Feed everyone before the photo shoot…in different clothes. 
  • Leave shoes at the edge of the sandbox. Sand was meant for bare feet. 
  • Plan clothes that fit well and have passed the comfy test. Nothing ends a family photo shoot faster than a scratchy tag on a sensitive toddler! 
  • The best time of the day for photos on the beach is early in the morning or late afternoon/early evening. An hour before sunset will give you the softest, most amazing colors. If you go in the middle of the day with full sun, everyone will be squinting and melting. Consider when your kids are at their best and work with your photographer to schedule around naps. You might end up crying more than your child if you schedule during naptime. 
  • Posed group photos are great, so start with that. Consider action photos as well, such as walking toward or away from the photographer. Or in the case of little kids, running or crawling. A handful of sand being tasted by a little one…disgusting at the time, adorable later. Maybe throw in a cartwheel or two! Riding bikes in the sand, building sand castles, frolicking at the water’s edge. Beaches are playful places so don’t hesitate to show that in your photos. 
  • Play around with both black & white photos and color, which will give you completely different looks. 
  • Once you have some great family shots, add smaller group photos like the kids and mom, kids and dad, siblings together, etc. 
  • If multiple family units are being photographed together, take photos with the entire group first. After that, the family with the youngest kids goes next for smaller group photos. Have books, toys, etc. to entertain other children while they wait. 

What to wear??

The options are many, so think about the look you’re going for…crisp and classic in all white to more playful in bright colors and prints? What fits your family best? Do you want everyone matchy matchy or just coordinating? 


The classic choices: 

  • Nothing beats all white on the beach.  White dresses, polo shirts and linen pieces are classic and beautiful against the backdrop of the sand, water and sky at the beach. White has a soft, glowy look in the late afternoon sun. 
  • White and khaki/tan. Mix up the pieces in this combo for a twist on the matchy matchy look by adding sundresses and shorts, roll up dad’s pants, add a small pop of color in accessories. 
  • White and denim or white and all shades of blue. The blues look fabulous against the sand and sky, and these combos work great for both matching and coordinating outfits. Give everyone a chance to pick out a favorite white and blue outfit to mix together. Varying shades of aqua, turquoise, and sea glass add punch to this combination and complement the surroundings. 

Or go a bit bold: 

  • Black. Not the first choice for most, but black makes a stunning contrast that’s a bit more formal. To keep the look light plan sleeveless summer dresses for the girls and shorts or rolled up pants for the guys. Bare feet gives a casual finishing touch. 
  • Patriotic colors of red, white and blue scream summer fun, sunshine and fireworks! 
  • Pick out two complementing colors like yellow and blue and mix those colors up within the family. 
  • Pink is often overlooked for beach pictures but is a gorgeous complement to the surroundings. And it looks good on most skin tones. Pink can vary from pale to salmon, and a plaid that includes pink gives the boys a fun option. 
  • Pick a print. Put one or two in a print dress or shirt and dress everyone else in the various colors of the print. 
  • Avoid very bright or neon colors that will distract from the beauty around you and will look out of place. 

Here’s the bottom line I drew from all of these suggestions, so if this is all you remember, you’ll survive. Lots of snacks. Did I mention that we’d love to see the photos of your littles in Strasburg Children attire? And have fun at the beach, which is why its there. Good luck! 

May 28, 2020 — Diane Janowak

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