Photographing families on the beach (Topsail Beach, Wrightsville Beach, Carolina Beach- all of the NC beaches!) is what we do and what we love. Throughout the years we have been asked questions from our clients ranging from the best time to have the session, what to wear and more. We’ve put together this post to share some of our tips for preparing for your session and have shared a quick video at the end to discuss some of those points in depth. Parts of this written post were originally written by Erin for Rachel at RCI Plus Topsail.
1. Schedule your session towards the beginning of your vacation week
Whenever we are scheduling clients, many say they would like to schedule their session towards the middle to end of the week if possible so they can work on their tans before the session. If you aren’t someone who is in the sun a lot or someone like myself who does not tan so easily, this can actually backfire for your photo session. The last thing you want for your session is to show up sunburnt, red or with a sunglasses tan on your face. Trust us, we have seen it all and have spent countless hours in Photoshop after the fact to clean up sunburn lines the best that we can. The remedy for this is to schedule your session towards the beginning of your vacation week. Another BIG reason we encourage scheduling towards the beginning of your vacation week is it allows extra days to reschedule in case of rain. Last summer we had an extremely rainy season causing many rescheduled sessions and without those built in extra days, we wouldn’t have been able to get all of our sessions in, but we did!
2. Schedule your session for sunrise or an hour before sunset
The best time to photograph on the beach is at sunrise, or about an hour before sunset. We will not photograph our sessions at any other time of the day on the beach (unless it’s a cloudy day) to ensure the best photos possible for our clients, and for us, this is non-negotiable. The sun is the softest at these times and creates the most flattering light for your portraits. We completely understand early bedtimes and schedules, but in order for us to deliver the images and final products you are hiring us to create for your family, we must adhere to this timeline.
3. Plan and coordinate your outfits
We recommend when planning your outfits that you choose complimentary colors and try to mix it up (definitely easier with the smaller families we know). Pick a color scheme, whether it’s navy/pink/white or something in the jewel tone family and then have everyone wear something in the color palette to coordinate. We do know with the larger groups sometimes it’s harder to coordinate different colors. We have certainly seen some beautiful outfits using all cream or navy so we are not opposed to it! For ladies, we do recommend staying away from thin cotton dresses or maxi dresses (they tend to cling to your body in the wind in often unflattering positions) as well as bright neon colors. If you are leaning towards white, we recommend something more in the off-white/cream family instead of stark white.
4. Let your kids be kids for the session!
What does this mean? This means try to avoid disciplining your children during the session (yikes, we know). We get it, when they start running around like crazy people, your first instinct is to get them to stop and behave, but for the hour during the session, we try to just let them run around and be kids. We often make it a game with them to try and keep them engaged in the session and we will chase them down to bring them back to the group if needed, often flying them through the air like an airplane back to you while making absolutely ridiculous noises (all dignity aside). This also helps avoid tears, red eyes and runny noses.
5. Come ready to have fun!
Yes, family photos with probably your entire extended family may seem daunting and overwhelming, especially when you are on vacation. The great news is since the best light on the beach is an hour before sunset, your session will only last about an hour! With our families, we send out a questionnaire before the session to ensure we have a list of all of the must get photos before the session. This allows us to work quickly and efficiently to knock out the posed and more formal photos before jumping into play time. Once we get the requested groupings photographed, we will gladly run around with your kids on the beach and even hop into the water with them. Some of our favorite photos are when the entire family jumps into the water to play-the smiles you will get from the kids are priceless when they have permission to kick and splash water all around, even at us (we encourage it, that’s what insurance is for, don’t tell our provider!).
6. Embrace the wind!
If you have ever spent any time on or near a beach, you will probably notice there is always a breeze of some kind blowing. Unfortunately, the wind doesn’t disappear just for our sessions. We really wish we had the ability to pause it for that hour, but so far we haven’t quite mastered that superpower. We will do our best to pose you with the direction of the wind as much as possible and pause for hair fix resets throughout the session. Ladies, thinner hair tends to blow more, so if wearing it pulled back is an option we would recommend doing so, you will thank us later! I (Erin) have a very type A personality but have learned over the years of living at the beach to just embrace beach hair, there really is not much that can be done for it. We will retouch any major flyaways for final prints and albums, but it’s best to accept going in more than likely there will be hair blowing in the breeze, and that’s totally ok!
We hope these tips to prepare for your beach session have come in handy! Whether you book with us or another photographer, they are all relevant! If you have absolutely loved this article and want to hear more, check out our video below. We hope to see you at the beach soon!