Heather Johnson Photography - Specializing in Wedding & Portrait on Isle of Palms & Charleston, SC
Home »
Info »
Beach Portraits

Beach Portraits: Family & Kids:

There are certain questions that lots of my clients ask when they book their beach portraits so here are a few tips on timing, what to wear, and how to deal when the wind takes over!

The Golden Hour:

The Golden Hour is sometimes called the Magic Hour. And, no wonder. This time of day is simply magical. It is almost universally agreed among photographers that these are the very best hours of the day to take photos because of the special character and quality of light.Dramatic Changes In Light During the Golden Hours, the atmosphere is often permeated with breathtaking light that adds ambiance, interest and drama to any scene. There can be spectacular variations of colors and hues ranging from subtle to dramatic during the Golden Hours. Even simple subjects take on an added glow. And remember, during this time we must take photos when the opportunity presents itself because the lighting changes quickly and then fades away so be ready.

Also, some people prefer not to take beach portraits when its cloudy, however honestly sometimes it is the best time! Clouds on the beach are often referred to as God’s natural softbox because they diffuse that powerful sunlight and make skin glow and, of course, its easier not to squint! The colors of the water and sky can sometimes be just as beautiful in the clouds than when the sun is out!

What to Wear?

People often ask me what to wear for their beach shoots and I usually say whatever makes you feel like you look the best! White and khaki aren’t mandatory at all! In fact, if you have a bright bold shirt that you think makes your eyes shine then by all means please wear it-you photography better when you feel your best. And you can always wear neutral bottoms and changes your shirts-just put a tank on under it for easy changing. But, if you are looking for some suggestions, here are some recommendations on some more traditional dress for beach portraits:

Beach Casual:

Wear a beach casual style for your next beach portrait. Beach casual is khaki shorts, capris, skirts or pants. Your top should be light in color with no patterns like flowers or stripes. If the beach portrait will include more than one person then you should coordinate on the color of your blouses and shirts. It is a good idea to wear the same colors because this will bring more focus to the faces in your beach portrait. Beach casual also means minimal jewelry and bare feet. If the weather is cooler, then long sleeves and pants are okay. Women need to think about their hair style too. Beach weather can sometimes get breezy. Plan ahead wearing a hairstyle that is suitable for windy weather.

The Blues:

Blue is the perfect color for beach portrait outfits. Any shades of blue will go well with the surrounding scenery, making your beach portrait that much more harmonious. Blues come in different shades, so if taking family or group portraits, try to coordinate your blue colors. Stonewashed denim shirts are a popular choice for beach portraits. Wear blue jean shorts or pants. Keep your feet bare and your jewelry selection minimal.

Classic Whites:

Wear a crisp white shirt at your beach portrait session. The white colors of your shirt will put the emphasis on the people in the portrait and not the clothes. Button-down shirts, polo shirts and even plain white t-shirts will add an ethereal quality to your portrait. However, not everyone has to wear the same style shirt. You could let everyone’s personality shine through with their white shirt choice. Add to the simplicity and drama of your portrait by wearing white pants, shorts and skirts, too


Even if you don’t normally sport makeup, please make sure you have some color on your cheeks and lips-depending upon the day. Sometimes no color can make you look washed out so, even if its light, it will look more natural. Also, as you know, sometimes the beach can be windy so make sure to go out and see just how windy it is. If the wind is up you might consider styling your hair a different way so it won’t be in your face the entire time. Certainly we can remove stray hairs from those prized favorites but if you get too much it just doesn’t edit out very naturally! For Beach shoots ladies hairspray is your best friend it prevents your hair from blowing into your face.