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Guide to Flawless Sunset Beach Portraits in Maui, Hawaii

Updated: Jan 5, 2023

You booked your photo session for one of Maui's world-class beaches; now what? Wardrobe, obviously!

Today, let’s talk about what to wear, detailing the most important items that should be on your mental checklist when you scavenge your closet (or suitcase) for the perfect outfit/s. It’s all about color coordination! We will get into how to pull together attire for you and your partner or the whole fam, best colors to wear, and other factors to consider on Maui’s stunning beaches.

How to Color Coordinate (for couples and families!)

So, you are aiming for classic portraits to be able to use for years but you don’t want your attire to stick out like a sore thumb or come off overly matchy-matchy? This does not have to be an intimidating task! Let’s go over a few guidelines that apply to groups of all sizes, from couples to larger family portraits.

  1. Solid colors are your best bet- A.K.A. avoid patterns as much as possible! Patterns clash easily and don’t age as well as solid colors. There are exceptions, of course. Patterns can add nice texture to the portrait, most notably in couple’s photography. For families, when one person is wearing a smaller pattern that plays into the colors of the rest of the family’s outfits, it creates an interesting contrast—patterns like gingham, thin stripes, and calico florals are good for just that. At risk of over explaining, we suggest you opt for smaller patterns and avoid bold/large prints.

  2. Pick a staple color- This is the easiest way to make sure big groups coordinate. For example, ask that everyone wears a blue staple piece and dress with neutrals around it. This leaves room for everyone to express themselves and have fun with it making for relaxed, well pulled together portraits.

  3. Choose a color palette- This works well for couples and smaller families and is an easy way to add depth without getting too off track. Choose 3-5 shades that complement each other and stick closely to it. Try two complementary shades and a neutral like black or tan. This method helps you look like a family rather than a group of Target employees with the same shade of shirts and khaki colored bottoms.

  4. Consider the pairings you want- What will mom and daughter’s outfits look like together? And so on and so forth.

  5. Have fun!- If you feel good, your pictures will shine. Make sure everyone picks clothing that expresses their personality and makes them feel confident.

Suggested Colors for Beach Photography

  1. Blues- This is a fool-proof color family for the beach. You won't blend in with the ocean, guaranteed. The cool colors complement your surroundings excellently. Powder blues and darker navy shades are especially lovely. When the sunset turns orange, as it often does, it makes for a stunning composition because orange and blue are complementary on the color wheel. (Thank you, middle school art class.)

  2. Soft purples and pinks- Purples and pinks on the more muted side are a great choice. Lavender, periwinkle, blush, mauve, plum, dusty rose, you name it! Purples and pinks create a soft contrast with the water and the result is a gorgeous color composition in the final photos. Plus, you usually end up matching the highlights on the clouds.

  3. Earthy greens- There’s a range on the green spectrum that looks good on everyone and is perfect for sunsets. Think sage, olive, pine. Earth tones are fantastic go-to when doing any nature photography.

  4. Bold tones- All of the above are color ranges that mold together. If you want to stand out, by all means, stand out! Bold colors like yellows and reds are totally welcome. The most important thing is that you and your family are dressed for coordinated success.

  5. When in doubt, neutrals never fail!- Blacks, whites, greys, tans, wardrobe-staple kind of colors. (Note: bright whites tend to reflect the colors around it, like the blue from the ocean or the pinks of the sunset and can negatively affect the portrait. Use sparingly.)

Additional Tips and Tricks for Beach Portraits

  1. Keep it cool and light- It’s the beach, dress like it. Keep it simple and breezy. Too many layers and heavy fabric are going to weigh you down and make you sweat. When you are uncomfortable, it shows up in the picture.

  2. Be prepared to get wet- More often than not, we get up close and personal with the water. It’s a blast; just wear clothing you don’t mind getting a little ocean on. Also, leave your phones and electronics locked in the car where the elements can't get to them (and where they can’t distract you.)

  3. Shoes- Sandals that slip on and off easily are recommended. We go from sand to lava rock very quickly in most locations.

  4. Think about your hair- It can get windy. Ways to combat the breeze are to bring a comb, add a touch of hairspray/product, or wear a cute up-do.

  5. Bring your aloha- It’s Hawai’i; let’s laugh and have fun together.

Ta da! It’s nothing to lose any brain cells over. Just show up feeling good and your photographer will take care of the rest.

Your dream beach photos await you! Book with Colleen’s Capture here or on any of our social platforms.


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