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Is navy blue good for photos?

Is navy blue good for photos?

Navy blue is a darker shade of blue that has been a popular color choice for decades. It’s a versatile neutral that can work for both men and women. But is navy blue a good choice when it comes to taking photos? Here we’ll explore the pros and cons of wearing navy blue for portraits, family photos, engagement photos, and more.

Pros of Wearing Navy Blue for Photos

Here are some of the benefits of choosing navy blue for your next photoshoot:

Classic and Timeless

Navy blue is a classic color that has remained popular for generations. It has a timeless look that won’t appear dated in photos years from now. The versatility of navy blue means it works for casual everyday portraits as well as more formal occasions like graduations and weddings.

Flatters Most Skin Tones

Navy blue is a neutral shade that tends to be flattering on most skin tones. It creates a nice contrast on lighter skin and pops against darker skin tones. Olive, medium, and darker skin often looks great in navy blue. It brings out the richness of deeper skin tones.

Looks Great in Low Light

Darker blue shades like navy tend to photograph well in low light conditions. The darker color holds its form and doesn’t get washed out like lighter colors can. This makes navy a good choice for indoor portraits.

Provides a Slimming Effect

The darker navy blue shade is slimming and can help camouflage problem areas. It’s not as harsh as black but provides a similar slimming effect. This makes it a nice option for full body shots.

Coordinates Well

Navy blue is easy to coordinate with other colors. It pairs nicely with neutrals like black, gray, white, and tan. It also coordinates well with shades like blush pink, mint green, coral, and yellow. This versatility means your entire photoshoot party can wear navy.

Cons of Wearing Navy Blue for Photos

However, there are a few potential downsides to consider when wearing navy blue for photographs:

Can Look Dated Depending on the Style

While navy itself has a timeless look, the styling of the clothing piece can appear dated. An 80s style navy dress with puff sleeves would likely look very retro. So while the color itself remains classic, the fashion needs to be modern.

Doesn’t Stand Out

One downside of navy blue is that it doesn’t pop as much as brighter colors. If you want a color that makes you stand out, navy blue may not be the best choice. Colors like red, fuchsia, and royal blue draw more attention.

May Look Too Harsh on Paler Skin Tones

On very fair skin tones with pink or ruddy undertones, navy can sometimes emphasize skin redness. It may be too harsh of a contrast compared to lighter blues or pastels.

Can Look Drab if Not Styled Well

On its own, navy can come across as rather plain and drab if not styled thoughtfully. That’s why it’s important to accessorize with interesting jewelry, scarves, pocket squares and the like. Bold makeup and hairstyles also help navy make more of a style statement.

Doesn’t Compliment All Hair Colors

Navy flatters cool skin undertones best. So people with very warm hair colors like strawberry blonde, redhead, fiery auburn, or even platinum hair need to take care that the navy doesn’t clash with their overall coloring.

When is Navy Blue a Good Choice for Photos?

Now that we’ve looked at the pros and cons, let’s explore which photoshoot occasions and settings are best suited to wearing navy blue:

Family Photos

Navy blue is a great choice for family photos, especially those taken outdoors. It’s easy to coordinate parents and kids in varying shades of navy. The color is also extremely versatile, suiting everyone from baby to great-grandma. For large family photos with lots of people, navy brings cohesion.

Engagement Photos

Navy is a popular color for engagement photo sessions, since it photographs well and coordinates so effortlessly. Brides often choose a chambray shirt paired with white shorts or jeans. And grooms can pair a navy suit with a white button down for a classic preppy look.

Graduation Portraits

A navy cap and gown is the standard for many graduations, making it the perfect coordinating color for graduation portraits. Navy complements traditional black graduation caps and gowns without being overly matchy-matchy. Portraits of the grad wearing navy alongside parents in navy tones makes for ideal photos.

Baby Photos

Babies tend to look absolutely adorable in navy! The color is a wardrobe staple for a reason. The neutral navy complements babies’ skin tones and works whether they have light hair, dark hair, blue eyes or brown eyes. Navy clothes will surely be passed down and worn by younger siblings as well.

Outdoor Portraits

If having photos taken outdoors, especially in open shade, navy is an ideal choice. It holds up well to the variations in outdoor light. Navy also complements the colors found in nature – blues, greens, browns, and tans. Wearing navy aligns well with most outdoor settings.

Formal Event Photos

For any formal occasion photoshoot like speeches, awards ceremonies, or dinners navy is perfectly appropriate. Darker blue tones read dressy and formal for both men and women’s wardrobe. While black is traditional, navy offers a classy alternative.

Photo Backdrops

Navy makes an ideal photo backdrop color as well. If you decide on lighter clothing pieces for the subjects, use navy as the backdrop color. Navy curtains, walls, fabrics, or wallpapers help the subjects stand out while remaining a neutral non-distracting color. Set designers should keep navy blue paint or fabric on hand.

Navy Blue Outfit Ideas for Photoshoots

Here are some great ways to incorporate navy blue into outfits for an upcoming photoshoot:


– Navy dress or gown
– Dark wash skinny jeans with a chambray top
– Chambray shirt dress
– Fitted blazer with white jeans or tan pants
– Peacoat paired with a patterned scarf
– Cashmere sweater with gray slacks
– Maxi skirt with white button down
– A-line dress with bold jewelry
– Sailor inspired crop top and shorts


– Navy suit with a white collared shirt
– Chambray shirt with khaki pants
– Varsity jacket with white tee and jeans
– Sweater layered over button down and slacks
– Peacoat with sweater, jeans, and beanie
– Polo shirt with fitted navy blazer
– Linen shorts with light blue button down
– Joggers with windbreaker and white sneakers

Accessory Ideas

– Tan leather belt
– Tortoiseshell glasses
– Gold or silver jewelry
– Patterned scarf or neck tie
– Suspenders
– Straw fedora hat
– Brown leather watch and shoes
– Simple makeup and nails

Navy Blue Photography Backdrops

Here are some navy blue backdrop ideas for portraits and photo booth settings:

Solid Backdrops

– Dark navy fabric, linen or muslin
– Mid-tone chambray fabric
– Light powder blue fabric
– Painted navy wood wall
– Dyed navy canvas
– Navy paper roll for floor/seating

Patterned Backdrops

– Herringbone
– Pinstripes
– Polka dots
– Chevron stripe
– Tile pattern
– Wave or water design
– Anchor print
– Blue floral design

Textured Backdrops

– Denim backdrop
– Velvet in navy
– Corduroy fabric
– Woven/knit navy rug
– Bead embellished backdrop
– Sequined navy curtain

How to Decorate with Navy Blue for Photos

Use these tips to incorporate navy blue decor elements for enhanced photoshoot settings:


Outdoors, use navy blue blankets, tablecloths, cushions, and pillows on seating areas. Add navy and white striped beach umbrellas. Use navy blue boats, bikes, or cars as props. Paint a wall or door navy to use as a backdrop.


Hang solid or patterned curtains in chambray or navy. Use a navy area rug and throw pillows. Create a gallery wall with framed navy prints and photographs. Paint walls or pieces of furniture navy.

Photo Booth

A photo booth backdrop can feature a bold navy and white stripe, blue scenic mural or abstract navy design. Decorate the photo booth area with navy props like hats, boas, sunglasses and signs. Use navy lighting gels or filters.

Table Setting

Use navy blue tablecloths topped with white plates and napkins. Include navy chairs, chargers, candles, and florals. Tie navy ribbons around silver or gold cutlery. Scatter sequined navy cloth napkins.

Navy Blue Clothing for Photo Shoots: Do’s and Don’ts

Here are some top tips when selecting navy clothing for photographs:


– Do choose dark, true navy over faded, light or purple-tinged navy.
– Do select navy pieces in a more matte versus shiny finish.
– Do pair navy with lighter neutrals like white, tan, light gray and blush.
– Do add interesting accessories like scarves or jewelry.
– Do pick navy shoes and handbags to coordinate.
– Do choose modern, updated styles and fits.
– Do accentuate your features with makeup when wearing all navy.


– Don’t wear lighter washed out navy tones.
– Don’t choose baggy, shapeless silhouettes.
– Don’t pair navy exclusively with black – add lighter tones.
– Don’t let navy outfit fade into the background – add “pop”.
– Don’t select a lot of navy pieces with logos, words or busy graphics.
– Don’t choose clothes with a strong blue cast (avoid purple-blue).
– Don’t overwhelm fair skin with head-to-toe navy.

Set Design Tips for Navy Blue Backdrops

To use navy blue successfully in set decor, keep these guidelines in mind:

Fabric Selection

– Flat matte finish is best, avoid shine
– Medium density is ideal, not too thin/sheer
– Cotton, linen, wool and velvet work well
– Solid navy reads stronger than prints

Set Placement

– Hang fabric backdrops at least 12 ft behind subjects
– Position backdrop to avoid shadows or creases
– Place smaller navy props off to the side or edges
– Add navy in organic, balanced way

Lighting and Exposure

– Boost lighting 20% brighter on navy backgrounds
– Add highlights, diffusion and reflectors as needed
– Watch for subject blending into background
– Overexpose slightly to keep navy from going black

Balance and Scale

– Scale navy pieces appropriately for the space
– Combine navy backdrop with lighter furniture
– Repeat navy color in smaller amounts throughout
– Keep navy balanced with 60-40 lighter brighter tones

How to Decorate Events with Navy Blue for Photos

When planning events that will be photographed, use these navy blue decor ideas:

Navy Blue Weddings

– Bridesmaid dresses
– Groomsmen ties and vests
– Tablecloths combined with blush linen napkins
– Navy blue floral arrangements with greenery
– Chair sashes in navy blue
– Accent decor like footed cake stand or glassware

Birthday Parties

– Navy and gold balloons
– Navy paper goods like plates, cups, napkins
– Navy stripes or polka dots on straws, utensils
– Tablecloths with gold foil dots or stripes
– Navy centerpieces with bright flowers
– Navy blue ombre cake

Baby Showers

– Decorative navy boxes for gifts
– Chambray table runners
– Navy patterned paper goods or plates
– Floral arrangements in navy vases/containers
– Navy onesies as decorations
– Navy and gray cakes or cupcasses

Graduation Parties

– Navy blue balloons and banners
– Navy paper goods, straws, faux glasses
– Tablecloths and napkins in white and navy
– Navy sunflowers centerpieces
– Navy candle holders and votives
– Silver, gold and navy cakes


Navy blue can be an excellent choice when selecting outfits and decor for photographed events and portraits. The versatility of navy means it complements most colors. It photographs beautifully indoors and out. Just beware of potential drawbacks like matching skin undertones, appearing dated or boring, and blending into backgrounds. With some thoughtful styling and accessorizing, navy blue makes for timeless photogenic images.