Hi! We're Shawn + Adam

We're husband and wife who formed our Love + Water Photography team on Maui in 2014. Since then we've created a series of weddings and sessions from the land + sea, drawing inspiration from the gorgeous colors of Maui sunrises and sunsets.



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What to Wear for Your Hawaii Family Portrait Beach Session

Choosing what to wear for your Hawaii family portrait beach session can feel a bit stressful at first, but with a few tips and a little inspiration, you’ll be picking out the perfect family photo outfits in no time! 

As family photographers in Wailea, Maui, we have plenty of experience capturing beautiful family portraits on the beach. We’ve seen countless options and ideas for family beach photo outfits, and have developed an eye for what works well in this specific setting. 

Two boys laugh and splash in the ocean on Maui during their love and water photography session

Of course, there isn’t one right thing to wear. There are, however, some family photo outfit mistakes to avoid and some suggestions to help you get the most out of your session. In the end, we’re sure you’ll be able to pick outfits that look both amazing and show off your unique personalities!

We’ve compiled some of the advice that we offer clients for our family photography services in Hawaii along with images to help inspire you. You already have breathtaking scenery and a beautiful family—now it’s time to add outfits that accentuate it all!

What to Wear for Your Hawaii Family Portrait Beach Session 

Not all family photo sessions are created equal! You might not wear the same thing for family photos on the beach in Hawaii as you would for a session in your cozy home, a green forest, or (definitely not) a winter wonderland. 

There are certain colors, tones, and fabrics that look especially amazing in beach photos here in Maui. And, of course, you need to feel comfortable in the elements while you’re at it! 

Family Beach Pictures in Hawaii: Tones and Colors to Choose

When choosing what to wear for your Hawaii family portrait beach session, we recommend infusing the colors and tones of the environment around you.

Where we shoot family beach portraits in Wailea, the sunrises and sunsets are known to produce stunning, dreamy colors.

Especially at sunrise and sunset, the skies in Hawaii typically boast breathtaking pastels from all spectrums of the rainbow—pink, blue, yellow, orange, peach, purple—you name it!

Choosing family photo beach outfits that complement the natural beauty of the area helps to create cohesive images that just look and feel right. 

Some popular outfit colors for family photos on the beach in Hawaii (in no particular order):

  • White
  • Beige/tan
  • Gray
  • Light blue
  • Purple
  • Pale pink
  • Blush pink
  • Bright pink
  • Peachy pink
  • Peachy orange
  • Rusty orange
  • Red
  • Pale yellow
  • Mustard yellow
  • Pale green

Family Beach Pictures in Hawaii: Wearing Patterns in Family Photos

When it comes to coordinating your family photo outfits, patterns can make things a bit tricky. But, that doesn’t mean you should stray away from them altogether! 

Fun family laughs in the shoreline on Maui with love and water portraits in Wailea
Family of four with toddler in dad's arms walks on the beach while looking at the camera at sunset

Mixing in some patterns can add uniqueness and personality. Some popular types of patterns to wear during beach family photos in Hawaii include:

  • Floral 
  • Lace
  • Gradient

We don’t recommend choosing patterns like stripes, checkers, or plaid.

Family Beach Pictures in Hawaii: Coordinating Your Outfits

So, now you have an idea of which colors and patterns look great for family beach picture attire. Now, how do you make sure your outfits look good together?

You’ll hear many family photographers say that the key is to focus on coordinating more so than matching. You don’t all need to wear the exact same thing for your family photos to look harmonious and balanced. 

That being said, choosing matching outfits isn’t necessarily off the table. For example, some choose to take their family beach photos wearing white (entirely or mostly) and the results can be really gorgeous! 

Family of six dressed in cream colors smile at the camera for sunrise during their Maui photoshoot
Family with mother and three children look at the camera and smile with palmtrees in the background

Here are some tips for coordinating your Hawaii beach portrait outfits:

  • Choose a color palette to stick to. This might include 2-4 colors that complement each other as well as the scene. Some popular color palette ideas for beach photo sessions:
    • Blue and white 
    • White and beige
    • Yellow and white
    • Beige, yellow, and white
    • Pale, white, and pale blue
    • Beige, white, and pink
    • Beige, white, pale pink, and pale blue
    • White, blue, and aqua
    • White, pink, and aqua
    • Pale yellow, pale blue, and pale pink
    • Light purple, aqua, and white
    • Aqua, pink, and white
    • White, peach, and pale blue
    • White, peach, and beige
  • Mix in some neutrals. No matter which palette you choose, it’s nice to work in some neutrals like white or beige to help bring things together.
  • Don’t go crazy with patterns. A good rule of thumb is to only have one or two people wearing patterns. If you’re combining patterns, choose ones that have complementary colors and look nice together rather than clash. The most common incorporations of patterns that we see are on dresses or kids’ outfits.
  • Match the other outfits to colors in the pattern. If someone in your family is wearing a pattern, pull colors from that piece of clothing to dress the others.
Family of four run toward the camera on the beach at sunrise with still ocean and pink and purple sky

Family Beach Pictures in Hawaii: Materials and Styles

When deciding what to wear for family beach photos in terms of styles and materials, we recommend embracing the beautifully laid-back vibe of Hawaii! 

Think dressy meets beach attire. Go with breathable, comfortable fabrics. For button-ups and blouses, linen is great.

Make sure it’s something you don’t mind getting a little wet and keep in mind that it can get windy (this means short dresses or skirts, even dresses with a ruffle hem, can be a bit risky). 

Some go-to family beach picture clothing ideas:

  • A fitted but flowy long/mid-length dress
  • A blouse with a long/mid-length skirt
  • A short-sleeve button-up shirt with shorts
  • A breathable, long-sleeve button-up shirt with shorts
  • A short-sleeve button-up shirt with breathable pants
  • Rompers (for babies and toddlers) 
  • Bathing suits

Family Beach Pictures in Hawaii: Clothing Mistakes to Avoid

When deciding what to wear for your beach photography session in Hawaii, avoid these faux-pas: 

  • Wearing clothing that is uncomfortable and doesn’t allow you to freely move and play
  • Wearing clothing that doesn’t fit right or make you feel confident
  • Not bringing backup clothes in case you get wet or dirty (especially for kiddos!)
  • Mixing too many clashing patterns
  • Forgetting to lather on some sunscreen (just don’t do it right before your shoot, especially if it’s super thick!)
  • Wearing clothing with big logos or words
  • Dressing too formal 
  • Wearing shoes (leave them at the beach entrance)
  • Covering your face with hats or sunglasses
  • Over-accessorizing

Other Frequently Asked Questions and Advice

Can we take family beach photos wearing black? 

While it’s not unheard of, wearing a lot of dark colors can look a bit harsh against the light, colorful beach scenery. If you wear darker colors, try a pattern for visual interest without overwhelming the subject.

What colors not to wear for beach photos?

Avoid anything really dark (with the exception of jewel tones – they look great!), and colors that clash with each other or with the natural colors of the setting. Also, wearing bright white can be distracting or wash out complexions—go with ivory or cream instead. Definitely avoid fluorescent colors such as lime green, which can reflect on fairer complexions and give the skin an eerie glow. This is mostly the case at sunset, when light is usually a bit brighter.

What shoes to wear to a family beach portrait session? 

This doesn’t really matter because, for the most part, you’ll be shoeless—feeling the sand in your toes and splashing around in the ocean! One less decision to make! 

Can I wear a hat for family beach photos?

Hats can look cute in some photos, but we will definitely want to get some without the hat as well since it can shade or cover your beautiful face in certain lighting! So feel free to bring it, but be prepared to take photos without it, too. 

How to pose for photos at the beach?

Don’t worry, you can leave that part to your family photographer! While we mix in some posed shots, we spend most of the shoot encouraging you to just play and be yourselves so that we can capture those authentic, candid moments.

What Should my Family Wear for a Sunset or Sunrise Beach Portrait Session in Maui?

Let us help you!

We shoot family portraits on the beach in Wailea at sunrise or sunset. You just can’t beat the stunning colors these times of day create! 

So, is there a particular way to dress for these times of the day? In general, the same rules as above apply because the colors we suggested are inspired by beautiful Maui, sunrises and sunsets.

While each sunrise and sunset is unique and we can’t predict exactly what it will look like, there are generally some differences between the two. Here are some examples of family photos taken at sunrise vs. sunset to give you an idea!

Outfits that Go with Sunset and Sunrise Light During Family Beach Photos

Sunrise family photos on the beach in Maui:

Mother wearing colorful long dress and lei po'o holds son while walking toward the ocean in Hawaii
Father looks up at his son and smiles at the camera during a beach photoshoot in Kihei

Sunset family photos on the beach in Maui:

Family of four with two young children walk away from the camera as the sun sets over West Maui
Mom and dad kiss their toddler on the cheeks as the child smiles at the camera
Family holds hands and runs along the beach during golden hour sunset in Wailea

Fun Family Beach Photo Ideas

If you’re looking for ideas for fun and unique beach family photos, here are some to try! 

  • Wear a lei po’o for an extra pop of color and beauty. We highly recommend having one made locally and professionally, and only giving them to older family members more willing to tolerate its weight on their head.
  • Have a splash on the shoreline! Bring towels and a backup outfit if you want to grab dinner or coffee after the shoot.
  • Bring an outfit change to get a variety of photos. We recommend one outfit change for mini sessions and up to two changes for a full session.
  • Match with your littles for some super cute captures.
  • Go bold with fun patterns (while following the advice above).
Mother kisses her baby's cheek as he looks at the camera while the sun sets during their photoshoot on Maui

Family Portraits at the Beach in Wailea

Looking for a great photographer for your family beach portraits in Wailea, Maui? You’ve come to the right place! 
Please feel free to check out our work on our Love + Water portfolio or Love + Water Instagram, and contact us if you’d like to work together. We look forward to capturing precious memories for your family that you’ll cherish for years to come! (And, we’re always happy to answer those questions when it comes to what to wear for your Hawaii family portrait beach session!)

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