Top Tips for the Best Beach Family Photos

Top Tips for the Best Beach Family Photos

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 03, 2018 by Diane Janowak

The Many Blessings of April

The month of April will bless us with the opportunity to celebrate with our families not once, but twice – both being occasions we hold close in our hearts. (And fortunately for my daughter, both involve a Strasburg Children’s dress.) We’ll lead the month off with Easter, celebrated by attending church as an extended family in the morning, followed by a meal prepared together and an Easter egg hunt before heading home. In an interesting twist, Easter shares the spotlight with April Fools Day…could make for an interesting Easter egg hunt!

The second, tied closely with the Easter season in the Catholic Church, is our daughter’s First Holy Communion.  I find it fascinating to learn how different religions develop the sacraments that build their foundations. In the Catholic Church, it’s the sacraments of Christian initiation – Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist – that layer our foundations. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. First Holy Communion is the common name for the first time someone receives the sacrament of the Eucharist. Since the Eucharist is the central focus of the sacramental life of the Catholic Church, this is an event of great importance.

Traditions surrounding First Communion include large family gatherings and parties to celebrate the special girl or boy following mass. Girls often wear white dresses, to symbolize purity, along with a veil or floral wreath and white gloves (long or short). Boys typically wear either a suit or dress shirt and tie with dress pants. Many families have a portrait taken with the child wearing their special clothes as a keepsake of this important day.

So it’s time for us to narrow our choices on what Strasburg Children dress she’ll wear on her special day! Our top contenders are Lulu, MaryBella, Audrey, Caroline, Blair, Mary, and Virginia. Silk or cotton? Simple and elegant or the added charm of smocking and embroidery added by the hands of our artisans? We’re spoiled to have so many stunning options and relieved to know that each one is a wonderful choice. Next is the floral wreath choice, which will be worn with my short wedding veil. Gloves or no gloves? Add the white Mary Jane shoes with a bow and we’re ready for her big day!

Wanting this to be more than just a day, a dress, and a party, I found some great suggestions from other moms for making this day special and one that we’ll all cherish the memories of.

Make a First Communion banner. With a little felt, ribbon, and a wooden dowel, you can create this with your child to commemorate their special day. In our church, the banners are hung outside the worship area for a few weeks so everyone can see them and pray for the children. They hang on the pews where our families sit the day of their First Holy Communion.

Have a special First Communion breakfast that morning. I’m stealing this idea for sure!!

Give a timeless gift they can hold onto forever, such as a cross necklace and bracelet, prayer book, rosary, crucifix, or Bible. When they wear or use their gift, they’ll remember that they received it on their First Communion. If you get a prayer book or Bible, you can have their name and the date engraved on the cover at many Catholic shops for around $5.

Celebrate! Whether this is a celebration in your home or a larger event at a restaurant, this is a great way to show your child that this is an important day of celebrating them! Many include a celebration cake. For my son, I decorated cupcakes with white frosting and arranged them in the shape of a cross on a large wooden tray.

Light their Baptism candle at your celebration. Traditionally, Baptism candles were lit at special occasions such as Baptism anniversaries and First Communion brunch/dinners. Then at one’s death, the candle is lit and allowed to burn all the way down.

Say a special prayer for your child at dinner with your family. One mom found this prayer, which I thought was wonderful:

Remember how He broke the loaf made from golden wheat, and said, “This is my body.  Take this bread and eat.” Remember how the sun-ripe grapes taken from the vine became a cup of blessing:  “Take and drink this wine.” Remember how a cross of wood became a symbol of Christ’s giving of himself to us-the greatest kind of love. Remember Jesus’ love for you today as you receive His bread of life, His cup of grace…Remember and believe!

Have your child get their items blessed by the priest. After they receive their gifts, take them to Mass with you the next Sunday and have your child request that the priest bless them.

Congratulations if your April will include these blessings as well! Let’s take the time as busy moms to take a deep breath and cherish this day with our little ones.

March 21, 2018 by Diane Janowak

Keeping Your Heirloom Dresses Beautiful

All of our designs are made with heirloom-quality fabrics and details, with the idea that you can pass the dress or Christening gown along to another sibling, family member, or even to the next generation. If the garment will be worn within a few months, hanging it on a padded hanger in a cloth garment bag will keep it clean and safe…make sure you wash or clean it first.  If it will be longer, it’s best to store it off the hanger. It doesn’t take much time and effort to preserve these garments properly for the next wearer - but it does make a huge difference if you do.
January 31, 2018 by Diane Janowak

Ready for the Easter Parade!

It was going to church during the 1870’s that started the early Easter Parade tradition that a few cities have held onto until today.  Groups would gather in a certain area, wearing the clothes they kept for special occasions, and walk solemnly to their church for worship. After the services, they would follow the same path back singing songs of praise.  By the 1880s, the procession after church had become a spectacle of fashion and religious observance, famous in New York and around the country, as families would stroll from their church to see other decorative churches. 

Because I live in a city that doesn’t have an Easter Parade, I’ve decided to create one with family, friends and neighborhood children. Beginning at our house to create Easter hats, the kids will then stroll a couple blocks in our neighborhood, ending at a friend’s house for treats.  We’re having our parade the weekend before Easter since many spend the day with family.  Why not create an Easter Parade where you live? 

January 18, 2018 by Diane Janowak
Tags: easter

The Dress Your Daughter Will Adore this Holiday Season

Nothing makes my daughter’s face light up more than a pretty dress.

Ever since she could talk, she’s proudly expressed her preference for ultra girly garments. If she could wear a frilly dress every day, she would—and let me tell you, she’s tried.

Having a daughter who loves playing dress up on a random Wednesday, I have to bring my A-game when it comes to finding dresses for special occasions, especially the holidays.

This year, I’ve outdone myself. When she saw her brand new Strasburg Children’s dress, she nearly fell to the floor with excitement. To say she was overjoyed would be an understatement. Who could blame her?

Read more on Brown Girl Gumbo

December 19, 2017 by Diane Janowak

The "Slow Fashion" Movement

As fashion trends cycle thru faster and faster, the term “Fast Fashion” has become part of our vocabulary. As soon as a trend has been shown on the runway, it’s a quick dash on the production line to get it into the hands of the customer as fast as possible. No more waiting until the next season and remembering the trend you wanted to try…now you can get it ahead of the next season and wear it right away with a few pre-seasonal tweaks to make it work.

With this quickened pace, fashion trends have also been appearing younger, offering the ideas to a much wider age range. Go to the zoo and you can see skinny jeans tucked into tall boots with a cute top and faux fur vest (very zoo-appropriate!) on a 7 year old, 28 year old, 49 year old, and 65 year old. Each will look fabulous and hip.

While this approach works great for casual wear, it’s caused a void in special occasion clothing and made shopping a bigger challenge for parents.  Quality fabric and details have been eliminated in many garments in the rush to produce them, contributing to our “wear it a few times and throw it away” culture. Yet many of us still want more traditional and age-appropriate high-quality options when looking for a dress for Christmas, Easter, First Communion, or a flower girl. My 8 year old might want the same dress a 25 year old would wear, but this Mamma isn’t buying it. We have such a small window of time to put them in a charming and sweet dress and have them look like a little girl. Dressing little girls for a special occasion is now more challenging than ever.

At Strasburg Children, we prefer the Slow Fashion movement, although we might be the only ones using the term.  We think girls of all ages should have a beautiful dress that is age appropriate and timeless, complete with a longer, full skirt for the best twirls. Our fabrics are only 100% cotton or silk, and our details are truly heirloom quality. We wait for the silk worms to produce fabulous silk dupioni with just the right sheen and color combination. Artisans continue to produce our smocking designs with their hands rather than sending the fabric through a pleating and embroidery machine.  During production, each design is finished with French seams for a clean finish that covers all edges that could rub tender skin. Your favorite dress is created to be shared and loved by younger siblings or cousins as well, becoming a family heirloom.

Fast Fashion just doesn’t fit us. And we hope that means as much to you as it does to us.

November 28, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Prince George, Style Icon for Little Boys

Many of us moms grew up giggling at the antics of two adorable little Princes, William and Harry, enamored with their sweet and very proper English outfits as they explored the world with their much-loved Mum, Princess Diana. The royals were a fascinating breed, unlike anything we Americans could experience on our soil. And now as we dress our own littles, the pleasure has returned with the arrival of Prince George and Princess Charlotte. We can hardly wait to “meet” the new little royal we’ve been hearing about.

While Charlotte’s adorable smocked dresses and bows always bring a smile to our faces, it’s George that warms the hearts of us moms with little boys. We have endless options for dressing our little girls for all occasions. But little boys?  Why would I want to dress my baby in a plaid shirt and khaki pants when that’s what he’ll wear the rest of his life? The choices are so narrow and the window so short for when you can dress your baby/toddler in truly adorable, sweet clothes.

Prince George has changed that with a smile on those chubby cheeks. Thanks to him, we see a proper but very stylish little boy in his sweaters, shorts, knee high socks…even his buckle shoes are adorable. I can’t stop looking at him.

boys upscale shorts outfitWhy always shorts? English tradition, of course. For centuries, young British boys were dressed in gowns for the first few years of their lives, until being “breeched” and graduating to short trousers. It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts until the age of 8, when they graduate to full-length pants. Especially among British royalty and aristocracy.

Taking a cue from the royal pages in British weddings, one of our original Strasburg Children designs was a boy’s button-on, where the short-sleeve shirt literally attaches with buttons at the waist to a short. It’s a classic style still worn in English and American weddings as well as for Christenings/Baptisms. That boy’s button-on, offered in all white and all ivory, remains in our collection. And now the cuteness for little boys has been expanded. We’ve added a button-on with light blue shorts and trim on the shirt to match our light blue dresses, perfect for a wedding, family portrait, or Easter parade. And for the bride who wants something more formal to coordinate with the groom’s tux we have a button-on with white shirt and black shorts. Add black knee socks and patent leather shoes and that little guy might get more attention than the bride.

So we adore you and we thank you, darling Prince George, for bringing style back for your little buddies!


November 01, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Because a girl is never too young for pearls

The timeless, classic beauty of a string of pearls has drawn many of us into its allure. The beloved pearl, the “Queen of Gems” as it was known for centuries, is the oldest known gem with a 4,000-year history. The Louve in Paris holds pearl remnants from a Persian princess dating back to 520 BC. Thru much of history a strand of matching pearl spheres was a treasure of almost incomparable value, in fact the most expensive jewelry in the world. And at one point, only people of a certain rank in society were allowed to wear pearls, determined by laws.

pearls jewelry for little girls

Fortunately the human hand eventually intervened, bringing access to pearls to the rest of us. Known for its stunning luster, the pearl has a very humble beginning as an annoying grain inside a mussel. Pearls do occur naturally, but the majority of pearls are considered cultured – they start with human assistance. To create a freshwater pearl, a tiny piece of tissue or pearl is carefully inserted into a live mussel. For protection, the mussel covers that tiny piece with a substance called nacre, the pearl “skin.” With thousands of thin layers of calcium carbonate crystals a pearl is created, with a white surface representing purity. Cultured pearls today rival the quality of the most expensive natural pearls.

The freshwater lakes of China have proven to be the perfect environment, creating pearls that are high in quality, durability, and with a high luster. Luster is the amount and quality of light that reflects off the surface of the pearl, which should be bright, not dull.  As a soft gem, they need special care to protect them from scratches and perfume, so wipe them with a soft cloth after you wear them and keep them in a soft pouch to assure a long life together.

Within our collection, pearls are integrated into the design of several accessories and dresses.   A veil with scattered pearls, satin gloves, and a ribbon and pearl hairbow make wonderful finishing touches for a flower girl and for her First Communion.  For baby’s Christening, our crochet booties and knit and satin booties cover tiny toes under the gown, accented with pearls.

The purity of the pearl plays a lead role in our newest Christening gown, Elizabeth, that we’re introducing this fall.  As smocking is being created by hand on our white 100% cotton bishop gown, our artisans are adding tiny pearls into the embroidery.

And we’re thrilled to have found beautiful freshwater pearls that are hand strung by a small group of artisans in Louisiana.  In addition to a classic pearl bracelet and necklace, we’ve added lovely cross and flower charms as well. These are the perfect finishing touches for a flower girl, her First Communion, or any time she’s opening a special gift.

Going strong with a 4000-year history, we don’t think the fascination with pearls will diminish anytime soon. And it certainly won’t at Strasburg Children either. Because a girl is never too young for pearls.

September 28, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Capturing an Heirloom Photo

From the early days in a Victorian home in Alabama, our collection has been created with details that are heirloom quality – the finest 100% cotton or silk, French seams to assure softness against a child’s skin, smocking and embroidery completed by hand, buttons covered in fabric, dresses with long full skirts that are perfect for twirling, generous 2” hems so a favorite dress can be worn longer as a child grows. Designed for more than just one special occasion, we create our collection with the quality workmanship that keeps that favorite dress in the family, being handed down among siblings and generations. Becoming your heirloom.

 Heirloom Portrait Little girl

In presenting our collection, we’ve searched for photographers who understand the essence of a timeless portrait, to show the richness of the details and charm of a dress in an heirloom-inspired setting. The images they’ve created for us are stunning. We’re grateful for their partnerships and so trust their craft that we want to share them with you. Based in the Alabama, Georgia, and Florida region, they’ve created beautiful studios, scouted amazing locations, and a few of them schedule annual trips to sandy beaches as well. Most of them have a small collection of Strasburg Children dresses in their studios for you to view and purchase. With one of these photographers behind the lens to capture the spirit of your little one in a Strasburg Children design, you’ll have a portrait to cherish for years to come.


And while we’re on the topic of wonderful photos of adorable children, we’d love to have you email us ( a photo of your little one if you’re interested in being a Strasburg Children model at one of our upcoming Alabama photo shoots!

View even more photography ideas from some of our guest photographers and bloggers. 

September 18, 2017 by Diane Janowak

Adding a ring bearer to your wedding? Be prepared…for anything!

Wedding bands are an important and symbolic part of the ceremony, representing the bond between the bride and groom and their “circle” of never ending love for each other. They need to be handled with care to assure their safe arrival. Yet some of us insist on putting them in the hands of small boys. How can we be surprised when that plan goes awry?

Ring Bearer and Flower GirlBut first, the best part - choosing his outfit! Some brides prefer a traditional button-on in white or ivory, resembling the English page that started the tradition. Coordinating his outfit with the flower girl dress lends a sweet, innocent beginning to the ceremony. Others opt for a tiny tuxedo so he’s one of the guys. When choosing his outfit, consider how formal or relaxed your ceremony is…and remember to factor in his comfort level wearing the outfit. If he can barely move or the fabric is scratchy, he won’t be happy.

Although the ring bearer has a specific role in your ceremony, his main “job” is to add a level of adorableness. He’ll probably partner with his flower girl in upstaging the rest of the wedding party. He could also cry and scream for photos and refuse to walk down the aisle.

Before the wedding, make a ring bearer plan to help him be a happy and willing part of the party. Consider the following suggestions:

If he’s young, he’ll be more comfortable with a buddy - have him walk with an older flower girl or junior bridesmaid that he’s comfortable with.  He could also walk  with a bridesmaid and groomsman, staying with one of them during the ceremony.

Have him sit with his parents during the ceremony.

ring bearer with shortsIf he throws a fit and won’t be in photos (best done before the ceremony) have your photographer try to capture him alone or with the bride and groom in a more natural, playful setting.  A photo of the wedding “littles” being read to or playing calmly before the wedding would be adorable and more comfortable for them.  Most important – be flexible about whether or not he does anything more than just look adorable for the day. No one wants a crying, frightened ring bearer drug down the aisle so he’s done his job.  Consider his age and let him be that for the day.

If things go awry, go with it and smile, even if that’s low on your list of responses! Our 3-yr old ring bearer dropped the wedding band walking down the aisle, fiddling with the ribbon as he strolled. It rolled under the first pew, past my parents. His father calmly scooted past my parents, slid under the pew, retrieved the ring and retied it to the pillow. Paddy continued on his way with both rings, Monsignor had a good reminder of why he doesn’t encourage small children in weddings, and we had an incredibly charming memory that we giggled about afterwards.

September 07, 2017 by Diane Janowak