The Ultimate Guide to Family Beach Photos

Beach family photos in St Petersburg

Written By: Erin

Erin Marie is a family and newborn photographer in St Petersburg, Florida. If she isn't photographing a family, you can find her traveling all over the Tampa Bay Area to find the best family-friendly restaurants, beaches, and adventures with her husband and two boys.

How do you go about having family beach photos taken? There’s nothing more magical than spending some quality time at the beach and receiving beautiful frame-worthy photos as a result…but let’s be honest. This kind of magic only happens with the right kind of planning. As a vacation photographer who specializes in capturing gorgeous memories for my families at the beach, here are all my top tip and tricks to get the family photos of your dreams.

Planning What to Wear for Family Beach Photos

Matching your clothing to the setting is key when you’re at the beach. With the beach as your background during your photo session, wearing beach casual or semi-casual clothing looks the most natural. Flowing dresses and polos or button-downs are the most popular choices, but rompers and jumpsuits, board shorts, and even swimsuits are all possibilities.

I always encourage my families to dress in a style that feels the most like them. Yacht club chic is gorgeous if that’s how you typically dress. But if your family has a boho vibe or is casual, that is the look you’ll want to capture in your photos. Fortunately I offer complimentary outfit consultations for all of my families, so you’ll know in advance that you’ve made a good choice!

Beach family photos with a baby

Pick Coordinating Colors

Did you know that the colors you wear change the way your photos look? Other than the style of your clothing, the colors you wear impact the vibe of your finished photos.

I always recommend that my families pick 2-3 colors that they love to base their outfits around. One or two should be neutrals, and the last one can be an accent color.

Soft, muted colors will lend your beach photos a lovely light and airy look, whereas a bold accent color will make you pop and stand out against the beach background. If you are unsure which look is right for you, go into your family room and look at the colors you decorate with. If the colors you want to wear would look good hanging on the wall, you’ve made a great choice!

Beach family photos with active school age kids

Should we wear Shoes for Beach Photos?

Yes! Always plan to start your beach session with shoes that match your outfits. While we’ll kick them off down at the water, it’s quite possible to encounter sand spurs that hurt to step on, hot sand, and even bits of shells at the start of your session. 

You don’t want to miss a perfect photo op because you didn’t have shoes on! Flat strappy sandals, slip on canvas loafers, and even quality surfer-vibe flip flops are all great choices. Avoid running shoes, clunky sneakers, and high heels. The first two won’t look right at the beach, and high heels aren’t a safe choice on the sand.

A young family dresses in beachy colors for their photos

Accessories for your Beach Photos

There’s nothing like accessories to give your beach photos personality. Hats, sunglasses, scarfs/shawls, and jewelry are all ways to add interest to your pictures. I recommend that my families bring a bag for any accessories that they might want to include. We can include them in some of the photos, but they don’t have to be in every one. It’s a fantastic way to get different looks without losing time on outfit changes.

A family with an infant plays and has photos taken at the beach

Pick the Right Location for your Photoshoot

All beaches are not created equal for family beach photos. Some are loaded up with cabanas and beach chairs that won’t look pretty in your photos. Others are so full of tourists that you’re guaranteed to have bonus people in every shot. So picking a photographer who can direct you to the local spots that are going to photograph well is a must!

Here in St Pete each beach also has a different feature that adds variety to your gallery: rocks, piers, pavilions, boardwalks, tidepools for mirrored reflections, and – of course – uninterrupted stretches of white, sandy beaches. If you’re looking for a beach session here in St Petersburg, Florida be sure to check out my quiz for finding the perfect location for your family here!

Colorful family photos at the beach

Can I plan activities for a beach session?

100% Yes!

Including an activity that you love in your family photo session is an amazing way to capture your family’s interests and relationships. The key is to pick a prop or two that your family loves. Bubbles to blow, a kite to fly, a shovel to dig or build sandcastles with, or even a ball for catch can be fun memory-making breaks during your session that also give us a chance to capture candids that sparkle.

Props for beach family photos include bubbles and playing games

Hey there! I’m Erin, the photographer behind “The St Pete Family Photographer”. I serve families who live and vacation in St Petersburg, Florida with candid lifestyle family photography. I’d love to talk to you about how you can have quality family time together AND get beautiful photos in the process. If  you’re interested in a family session, let’s connect! Not ready quite yet? You can follow me on Instagram. Let’s be friends!

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