Tips to Avoid the Beach Session Blues

by & filed under Portraiture.

beach session

Summertime and the living is easy- or so says the song. That is unless you are trying to get the family (or even, gasp! the extended family) into one perfect photo for the ages. Here’s a few tips for getting the photo you want without losing your cool.

The first question I receive from clients is always about what to wear. The beach is a blank canvas. I love it when families wear color! Yellows, blues and pinks all photograph so beautifully on the beach! I caution people away from busy patterns and outfits that are too matchy, matchy. There’s a huge difference between coordinating and matching. Don’t be so formal with your clothing choice that you or your children are confined to certain poses or can’t move about freely and have fun. Pay attention to how each person’s outfit compliments (or clashes with) other family member’s outfits. I recommend choosing your own favorite look and marrying the colors to your family’s outfits. For more ideas look here.

The time of day for a beach session is very important. The best light for summer is either sunrise at around 6:30-7:30 a.m. and sunset is around 7:00- 8:30 p.m. Most little ones fare better in an early morning situation so consider scheduling while they are fresh. Proper nap and activity planning are very important on the day of a portrait session. I always recommend that parents allow their children to take a later nap than normal or to take a second nap if needed for sessions later in the day. Also, if your session is early evening don’t plan too many activities for that day. Photographing a child that is overtired can be challenging.

If your dream is to get one perfectly posed shot of the whole family smiling and looking at the camera, do that first. You need to get those shots before the kids lose interest or before Grandpa gets grumpy. You might also have a mental list of other posed shots that you would like, for instance, Mom and daughter, Father and son, just the kids together, grandparents with grandkids, etc. It’s important to get this list of must-haves done as soon as possible. Once they are accomplished it also takes some of the pressure to “get it right” off and everyone can relax and be themselves more for the rest of the shoot.
Speaking of “getting it right”- I know that everyone wants a happy family portrait with everyone smiling and looking at the camera. But the worst thing you can do as a parent is stress.  Kids can feel that pressure and become tense. And then you stress more. It’s a vicious cycle. The beach is the perfect setting for a casual, laid back portrait of your family. Remember it’s about love, laughter, fun, and memories. Sure, you want to walk away with the most beautiful images possible, but also keep a light heart and try to remember that every last detail doesn’t have to be perfect because your love of family is what is perfect. Sometimes young children or even moody teenagers might not want to look at the camera or smile their real smile but eventually, through patience and creating space for them to just be themselves during the shoot, you may end up getting them after all. Take the pressure off of them, and yourself to be perfect.

As long as everyone is snuggled up together and is happy, that’s a successful portrait! Interact as a family. Give cuddles and tickles, tell jokes, just have fun! It should not be stressful – it’s the beach! Let kids, be kids! Let everyone have some fun.

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