What to Wear for Family Beach Portraits : Look Good and Have Fun

Deciding what to wear for family beach portraits can be stressful, but I have the simple answer for you – swimsuits. Okay, maybe not for your entire session (although it happens), but hear me out. In a previous post (Family Beach Photoshoot : Why You Should Jump in the Water), I implored you to make the most of your beach photo session and come prepared to play. Instead of holding the kids back and begging them to keep dry, let them run, splash, surf and have fun. Better yet, join them. I watch entire families transform with the magical addition of water. Because I use a water-housing for my camera, I can get close to the action and create beautiful images of pure joy.

But, there are hesitations. Completely understandable hesitations. Two are most common.

  1. We’re not comfortable in the water
  2. I do not want to be photographed in a swimsuit. No way. Not going to happen. Are you kidding me?

If you’re not comfortable in the water, but love the beach, the solution is easy. I will suggest beautiful locations around the island with calm water or tide pools so you can enjoy an easy morning making sand castles and dipping toes in the frothy surf.

For those of you love to play in the water, but don’t love the idea of being photographed in a swimsuit, I have four options to make you comfortable enough to get in the water.

4 Ideas to help you feel more comfortable getting in the water for your photo session

Ideas to help you feel more comfortable getting in the water for your photo session

4. Cover More

In recent years, swimsuits have diversified. You can opt for more coverage on top, more coverage on the bottom, or more overall. Surprisingly, one-piece swimsuits and bikinis with more coverage have never looked more stylish. Even long-sleeved suits look amazing. I put together a Pinterest board to give you a sense of swimsuit styles that photograph beautifully.

mom and daughter at beach photoshoot in hawaii

If you’re still feeling too exposed, you can turn to clothing designed for water sports. Brands like Title Nine, Athleta, and Patagonia have great options for swim shorts or board shorts and tops you can take in the water. Surf brands like Billabong have a variety of options yearround and are particularly great for kids swimwear.

family body surfing at waimanalo beach during a photo session

family watching a sea turtle in Koolina oahu

3. Cover Up

Still not feeling the swimsuit love? Another option is to add a coverup. There are a wide range of options that look great from tunics to sarongs to simple beach dresses. It’s a great way to play by the shore and still fit into the beach scene.

What to Wear for Family Beach Portraitsmom and son splashed by a big wave in oahu
2. Go Deep

Another alternative is to submerge yourself in the water. If you’re comfortable in the water, you can head for deeper depths. If you’re waist deep, the water keeps you covered. If you prefer to stay in the shallows, you can simply kneel or sit so the water can cover you like a blanket.

water portrait of a family with baby in waikaloa hawaiimom snuggling daughter in the water koolina oahufamily waiting for the next wave during their beach photoshootcouple with a baby snuggling in the water in kihei maui during a beach photoshoot

1. Appoint an ambassador

Still not sold on getting in the water? If you have water-loving kids, appoint an ambassador to take the kids in for a bit of water fun. Sometimes it’s dad, but aunts, uncles, and even grandparents have volunteered to get salty. There’s nothing like a boogie boarding grandma to make you smile. Even if you’re not getting in the water yourself, you can still be in the pictures. Just make sure your clothing is beach casual so you don’t stand out from the swimsuit clad group.

excited dad and baby playing in the water in hawaiigrandma pushing grandson in blue waters of oahu hawaiidad and son play in the sand with clear water and palm treesdad pushing daughter on bodyboard in hawaii for family photo sessionfamily playing in the water at calm koolina lagoon for photo sessiongrandma catches a wave on a bodyboard at kailua beach oahudad holding his newborn son in the water during family photoshoot in hawaii

Over the winter months it can be trickier to find good beach wear. If you’re not having luck, stop by one of the beach boutiques in Kailua, Haleiwa, or Ala Moana Mall.

Ready to book your own fun family photo session? Find out more about my sessions here. Hope to see you in the water soon!



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