Tips for Great Beach Photos: What to Wear!

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Choosing the right clothes and accessories can greatly improve your beach photos.You’ve carefully planned your Crystal Coast vacation. You’ve made difficult choices like whether to stay near Atlantic Beach, Salter Path or Emerald Isle. You carefully picked a date to have portraits made at the beach and hired a great photographer (hopefully me!) to do the shoot. But what about clothing for your photos? Here’s a few tips on what to wear to make the images from your beach photo session the best the can be.

With the beauty of our North Carolina beaches in mind, a laid-back casual look is probably the best way to go. Many families choose to coordinate their clothing choices for their location portraits. You may want everyone to dress in identical colors, or simply color coordinate the group. Popular color choices include either white or pastel tops with khaki or denim slacks, pants or capri’s. As a general rule it’s best to avoid patterns and bright colors. After all, you want the attention to be on the people in the photos, not their clothing.

A great variation of the classic khaki/white or denim/white beach color scheme might be for the women and girls to wear long, flowing white dresses instead of slacks or capris. A beachy straw hat can be a nice touch for the girls as well. Another option might be for the guys to wear darker tops, like denim shirts or dark polos. Another way to mix things up is if everyone matches colors but with a mix of styles. One guy might wear a light blue polo, another an oxford. This allows everyone to express them self with their own style.

Sleeveless shirts and blouses are usually not the best choice. Wearing either long or short sleeves tends to make more pleasing pictures. While this is especially true for the ladies, it applies to men as well. Generally people don’t like how they look in photographs when wearing shorts or short skirts. You’ll probably be happier with your portraits if you stick to long pants or capri’s. For summer portraits, many families choose for everyone to be barefoot. Of course sandals or flip-flops can be great too, we are at the beach after all!

Makeup should be kept as natural as possible. It is fine to place some emphasis on your eyes and lips. Be careful to not to get too sunburned, it’s not the greatest look for a portrait. A great tan will photograph very warm, but don’t over do that either. While make-up isn’t recommended for men, an evening portrait on one of the Crystal Coast beaches will greatly benefit from a fresh shave! Even with modern image enhancement techniques, removing a five o’clock shadow is almost impossible.

Though you may not normally use hair spray or other products to hold your hair in place, it is a good idea to use something before coming to the beach for your portrait. An afternoon or evening sea breeze is quite normal along North Carolina beaches. Even a slight wind can blow hair in front of eyes and cause people to keep moving their arms and hands to remove it. The best advice is to use some hair product before you arrive or bring it along in case you need it. Hair bands and ponytails are another good alternative.

Young children may have a favorite beach toy that they like. It might make a great shot if they are allowed to hold it. Depending upon the child, it may be the only way to get them to sit still for a shot. Older children may want to bring a surfboard or skim board, or some other favorite beach toy. It all adds to the personality of the shot. It’s always helpful if youngsters are well rested and fed before they arrive for the photo shoot.

So there you go, a few simple suggestions for making your family beach photos look great. Remember, keep it simple and casual… fun and relaxed. You’re on vacation. Have fun!

On the Rocks: A Family Beach Portrait Session in North Carolina

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The local beaches near Atlantic Beach, Indian Beach and Emerald Isle frequently have features that are interesting to incorporate into beach portraits. For example, the rock jetty at Fort Macon State Park can be a great place for casual poses. Other interesting features include sand dunes, fishing piers, driftwood and beach houses. In the dunes, wading along the shore or on the rocks, beach photos are best when they look casual and natural.


Familiar beach features like this rock jetty at Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach North Carolina, make great locations for casual vacation photos.

This slab of rock was once part of a jetty that protected the beach along Beaufor Inlet.

Let ’em Play! Tricks to Capturing Great Beach Photos of Kids

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Capturing photos of kids on the beach can be frustrating for both parents and photographers. They’re full of energy and curiosity, seldom having any interest in posing for the camera. Sometimes it’s just a matter of timing. If it’s been a few hours since their last meal, or if they missed their nap, getting them to cooperate can be a challenge. Many times the best course of action is to just let them play and frolic on the beach. This approach frequently nets me some of my favorite images. So the best plan is to get a few safe, posed shots in the bag then let “em play!”

A young boy splashes in a puddle on the beach at Fort Macon State Park, Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.  What a lovely vacation memory from a Bogue Banks visit.

Two boys play in the surf while a ketch passes through Beaufort Inlet in the background.  Another great beach vacation memory from NC's Crystal Coast.

Welcome to Photos at the Beach! Specializing in NC Beach Portraits.

Family portraits on the beaches of Jacksonville, Atlantic Beach, Emerald Isle and other Crystal Coast Locations.
Photos at the Beach specializes in beach portraiture for families, children, teens… pretty much anyone seeking a location portrait on North Carolina’s beautiful beaches.  Located along NC’s Crystal Coast, sometimes also referred to as the Southern Outer Banks, Photos at the Beach serves all the local beach communities.  I also offer location photography in the area’s waterfront communities.  I offer a number of portrait collections with something to fit most budgets.  Family photos made during your vacation make for great memories. Look around, enjoy yourself and check back often.  New pages and information will be added along the way with frequent additions of posts with tips on getting great beach photos and highlighting recent sessions.  Also be sure to stop by my primary website, R. D. Decker Photography

Photos at the Beach serves the following Crystal Coast communities and attractions:

  • Atlantic Beach
  • Pine Knoll Shores
  • Salter Path
  • Indian Beach
  • Emerald Isle
  • Cape Carteret
  • Swansboro
  • Newport
  • Morehead City
  • Beaufort
  • Harkers Island
  • Fort Macon State Park
  • Tideland Trail, Croatan National Forest
  • Cape Lookout National Seashore
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