What To Wear For Your Summer Family Photos

What to Wear For Your Summer Family Photos

Summer: warm air, long days, sunny blue skies. There are so many reasons to love summer. Plus, in New England, you never know how long summer will really last! We love summer for so many reasons and one of them is: family photos! Fall is hands down the busiest time of year around here for family photos. But summer should definitely be considered more! Not only do you get to take advantage of warm weather, pretty parks, and beautiful beaches, but you can beat the fall rush, too. It’s a win-win!

There are two different types of outdoor sessions. There are park sessions, and there are beach sessions. Each of these sessions are great choices, but the styling can be a bit different for each. We have a Pinterest board for park family photos, as well as one for beach family photos.

Regardless of which type of North Shore MA outdoor summer family photo session, we have some tips to make styling your family photos as easy as possible so that you can have as much fun as this little one!

toddler on beach photo

Coordinating Colors For The Whole Family

The first step is to coordinate colors. But before you can do this, you have to take a second to think about the background of your photos. In the studio, this means a solid, neutral backdrop. This definitely isn’t the case for outdoor photos. Nature is full of color which has to be taken into consideration.

When it comes to family photos in the park in North Shore MA, the number one color behind you will be green. While green is a gorgeous color, balance is key. There are so many colors that look gorgeous in front of green. Navy and white are classic choices. But even pink, yellow, and subtle pops of red can look gorgeous in front of green.

summer family portraits with dog

Beach sessions are all about the sunset colors. Shades of pink, orange, and purple blend with blue to create a backdrop that can look like a watercolor painting. When it comes to choosing a color scheme for these photos, neutrals always look great. White, khaki, navy are all perfect choices. But for anyone who likes a little more pop of color in their photos, look to the sunset as inspiration. For even brighter choices, pops of coral and teal are beautiful, too.

sunset photos of family

It can be tempting to want to put the entire family in the same color (it can work great, check out the portrait above!). But instead, consider colors that play off of one another. Teal goes great with shades of pink, pale blue and yellow were made for each other. A great way to accomplish this is by having one person (usually one of the children or Mom) in a “hero” outfit. This is an outfit with a design that draws attention and adds visual interest. Plaid or floral are great examples of this. Having the entire family in matching plaid (versus various patterns, as in the portrait below) might become distracting, but one pop of plaid can pull together all the colors and create a seamless, cohesive look.

It can be tricky, but there are ways to have numerous prints all work together. This is a great example. The colors are all similar shades of blues and gray (which are great neutral tones) and the prints are different enough that they aren’t distracting. And in this case, Mom is in the “hero outfit” since she’s the only one not in a print, which draws your eyes to her first.

large family photo outside

Another great way to add visual interest and layers in a photo is by using accessories. A big, chunky necklace or something similar is a perfect way to do this. For fall family photos we suggest a scarf on mom, and a large necklace can do the same in the summer.

Choose Classic Clothing Pieces

These portraits will be keepsakes you can have forever. Which means choosing classic, timeless pieces. Not only can graphics be eye catching in the photo, but they also might not be something you want to look at ten or twenty years from now. Your child made be obsessed with The Wiggles (are they still a thing?) or Yo Gabba Gabba but clothing with characters on them are often busy and distracting. Not only that, but by tomorrow, they will most likely have new favorites. It’s better to keep it classic and simple so that these portraits can last for generations and still look as timeless as ever.

mom and kids photo summertime

Keep Summer Temperatures in Mind

Summer in New England more often than not means hot and humid. However, it is still New England. Which means that it could be hot and humid one minute and snowing the next (well, let’s hope not.) It’s best to be prepared, and the key to being prepared is wearing layers. When the sun is beating down, Dad won’t want to be in an undershirt and long sleeved button up on a humid beach day. Nor will we want to see the aftermath of Dad in an undershirt and long sleeved button up on a humid beach day. Forget about hangry, he’ll be swangry (sweaty and angry. Did we just create a new word?!)

But then again, it is New England. Which means that the breeze can come off the ocean and make everyone a little chilly. My best advice is to double (triple) check the weather, and come prepared with extra layers just in case.

family photo on the beach with son

Size Matters        

Life can get busy and sometimes you won’t have time to try on outfits before the shoot, only to put them on the day of and find they are too big or too small. Make sure everyone is comfortable in their clothing prior to the day of the session. I recently ordered a bathing suit off of Amazon and let’s just say, if I brought it on my beach vacation without trying it on first, I probably would have been arrested on sight. Learn from my mistakes. 

I am actually notorious for buying props that are too small. For example I thought I was buying 100 carrots for my Easter sessions. I didn’t realize they were baby carrots (and actually still looked adorable!). Another example? I recently ordered an adorable blue truck from Amazon to have as a prop. I thought it would be a decent size. Spoiler alert: it was TEENY. I ended up ordering one in the size I actually wanted and now I have a daddy truck and a baby truck–ha! Photographic evidence below.

photo shoot props
behind the scenes photo studio props


When it comes to choosing the texture or fabric of clothing, the location can once again influence your decision. When it comes to beach settings, flowy fabric, soft cottons, and linen all work beautifully. Typically you wouldn’t be wearing a dress shirt on the beach, so it’s better to save that for an outdoor park session. A collared shirt can work for dad in either setting however.

Either way, when it comes to outdoor family portrait sessions look for soft fabrics over stiff fabrics. Comfort is very important. When you feel comfortable in what you are wearing, it shines through in your photos. No one wants to be stuck in uncomfortable clothing AND posing and smiling for the camera.

summer family pictures

What to Wear on your Feet

This one is easy and might even save some money! For beach photos, barefoot is best. Who doesn’t love the feeling of warm sand beneath their toes?

In a park setting there can be some more variety. Sandals are always a great idea for moms and kids. Are you going for a more formal look? Dress sandals for mom, and dress shoes for dad. Or if you want more relaxed, have dad wear some sandals or boat shoes. Either way, comfort is key. We often take walks to different areas of the location and we don’t want your feet throbbing for the next week. Heels are beautiful, but they can get stuck in the grass. If you have specific shoes you want for the photos but don’t want to be stuck walking around in them, wear a shoe that is easy to slip on and off and put your heels (or dress shoes!) on at the last minute.

summertime pictures family

Summer is a beautiful time of year in North Shore MA, and perfect for family photos and so much more. There are so many things to do, sights to see, and such a short amount of time to enjoy the warmth and sunshine. Want more ideas of fun things to do this summer? Check out our Summer 2019 Bucket List. Want more family portrait styling inspiration? Read this post about fall family styling ideas.

Crabapple Photography is a full service boutique style portrait photography studio located in the North Shore area of MA in Andover. We serve clients throughout the Greater Boston area including Burlington, Stoneham, and Rowley. Kate McKenna has over 10 years experience photographing families and children including in outdoor locations around Massachusetts. Contact Kate today to learn more and to book your session.

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    Welcome to Crabapple Photography! I'm Kate and I've been a family portrait photographer since 2009. My specialty is newborns, babies and children. We have fun! My style is clean and whimsical and I am a detail person.

    My studio is located in Andover, MA and I proudly photograph families in the North Shore of MA, Greater Boston and Southern NH areas. I also offer on location outdoor sessions as well.

    Contact me today!

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