I don't know how many of you are like me.. but I literally hibernate in the winter. I don't feel like going outside - even to check the mail. But as soon as the glimpse of warmth starts to head my way, I get over eager to do something outdoors. Today is one of those days.. it is sunny and 65! I can not wait to fish, swim, kayak, snorkel, and ski!!!
Since the weather is starting to warm up we have started to receive calls regarding family beach portraits. The peak season is summer: late May to Labor Day. When is the best time to book? NOW!!! Most of the photographers who are easy to find online will be booked up before your vacation date. I would book as soon as possible in order to secure your date. Here are a few additional things to consider when booking:
1. Book your photography session as early in the week as possible.
Please don't be the clients who want to "be there a few days to get a tan first". Chances are, you'll end up bright red and miserable. Sunburn is very hard to hide naturally in photographs and most photographers will charge you extra for the editing. Please please please wear sunscreen. I promise you will be much happier and will end the week with a nice, healthy glow instead of being at an additional risk for skin cancer!
In addition to the possibility of being sunburned the weather could decide not to cooperate. I ask all of my clients to choose the earlier date out of my available dates. That way, assuming I don't book up completely, we have some flexibility if the weather is bad. Having an extra day to fall back on is so valuable that sometimes I intentionally leave a day open to help out my clients.
2. The best light is an hour prior to sunset or the hour after sunrise.
I basically offer my clients two options, sunrise or sunset. If you want the best lighting in your photos, it happens within an hour of sunrise or an hour of sunset. Not ideal timing most of the time but to get the best possible images, these are the best times. The beach lighting is especially difficult because there is nothing to block the sun - no trees etc.. take my advice and aim for that session about an hour before sunset. If you aren't having photographs on the beach, there is a little flexibility in those times. Parks are nice because they provide cover to the sun (trees, buildings, etc) and that creates nice light throughout the day. Also, if it is overcast some people think that produces boring images but with the right gear an overcast day is one of the best to shoot on!
3. Plan your outfits now.
Most of the time I get really lucky and have clients who have strategically planned out their outfits for the photo shoot. Beiges and muted blues were really popular last summer. I would go ahead and start thinking of what your family can wear now! Look at other photographers sites to get ideas and plan it all the way down to the jewelry. Most of the time I ask my clients to stick to a color palette and NOT to wear neon colors or reds. White sand = reflects colors on to your face! If you have questions about what to wear, I am happy to help and I am sure other photographers are as well! We want you to look your best!
4. Adjust nap time to fit the photo shoot.
If you are bringing little ones to a photo session, I would work extra hard to make sure they were at their happiest for the photographs. Plan the day so they get an ample nap - and are well rested for the pictures. Everyone will be in a better place if the children aren't miserable!
5. PLAN FOR WIND!!!
I can't emphasize this enough. Please plan for wind. At least have a backup plan (bobby pin, braid, etc) if you decide to wear your hair down. The photographer will do his/her best to position you facing in to the wind.. but it's still going to be windy. Just know, its going to be windy... and plan for it.
Thanks for reading. Be sure to book your family beach portraits as soon as possible in order to secure a date when you are going to be vacationing at the beach! I travel from Destin, Florida to Panama City Beach and schedule sessions most days of the week. Click the link to view my Family Beach Portrait Packages. To contact me regarding availability, call or text (850) 307-8402 or email me!
Rosemary Beach is one of my favorite locations for lifestyle portrait sessions. We typically walk around the main street in Rosemary and stop at any and all photogenic locations. Everywhere you turn there is gorgeous architecture, landscaping, and shrubbery. We decided to go with the bo-ho theme for Sydney and Jeffrey's engagement portraits and I am so glad we did. She is so beautiful and these are some of my favorite engagement photos to date. I love shooting on the beach but I also love walking around finding hidden photography spots. Take a look and hopefully you love these as much as we do!
Meet the tilley familY|family beach photography 30a
This was such a fun photo session. We were terrified because the weather is moody this time of year and we already had to reschedule once. We decided to brave it and I am glad we did. They were staying in a private residence near Seaside, Florida in a VRBO home and it was gorgeous! Private beach access.... pool... too many amenities to list! There were the grands and three additional families represented for a total of 14 people. They booked my multi family package and were able to split the costs! Hope you enjoy these! Special thanks to Sydney Bodden, my assistant for singing "Let it Go" about 88 times during the hour and a half session! ;)
Chase and Jennifer were staying at Sandpiper Cove in Destin. They opted for a sunrise session and boy were we lucky. It rained on me on the way - and for the first 15 minutes of the session. We waited it out and it turned out to be an absolutely gorgeous morning with no one on the beach! They booked my hour long couples portrait session.
For more info on my family beach portraits, click here. To contact me, Rachel Lauen (aka Photographer) call or text me at (850) 307-8402.
Thanks for looking!
By: Rachel Lauen, Owner Ultimate Production Company
Every photographer has those angels singing "ahhhh" moments when the light is perfect. This was one of those days. The Ray family booked my multi-family package. We drove to the house they rented in Laguna Beach (just outside of PCB) and walked to the beach access. I couldn't have asked for better light or a more photogenic family. The children were so well behaved! Chris came as a second shooter so the session didn't last quite as long and I enjoyed having him with me. He's the one who taught me everything I know anyway!
I loved that there was some cloud cover (we thought it was going to rain). Also, this was my second photo session with my new Sigma ART lens and I am in LOVE. For those of you who love sharp images, this is your lens!!
Chris is exceptional with candid shots like the one below.. He can just patiently watch until it is the perfect moment for a fun photo!
The Multi-Family package is good up to 12 people but if you have a large group, give us a call and we will work out a custom quote for you!
I typically shoot in the Destin, 30A, or Panama City Beach area. To book a session now, call or text me at (850) 307-8402.
As a photographer in Panama City Beach I have spent many years learning these lessons. I love shooting family beach portraits but it also has its challenges. Hopefully these 11 tips will help you as they have helped me. Enjoy!
1. Bring some bribery.
If you photograph families often, you know that entertaining the kiddos is one of the hardest parts of our jobs. I always have a few things handy in my camera bag ready for my assistant to grab at a seconds notice:
A. Seashells – These are a great souvenir from their beach trip and provide you with some leverage for the children. They also aren’t an eye sore for photos if you can’t convince the child to put it down.
B. Dollar Bills – I know it sounds ridiculous. To me, in order to make a child happy, I will offer up a dollar…and sometimes it’s just what we needed.
C. Noisemakers – Whether it be a horn, shaker, or dog squeaky toy, a noisemaker is essential to grab the attention of the little ones.
2. Bring a blanket/sheet to put your gear on.
Everyone knows that salty water is not great for gear. Neither is sand. If you’re like me, sand finds its way into my camera bag, car, and house. Bring a small sheet or blanket to not only put your gear bag on, but also for the clients. It’s a win-win situation for both of you and they will view it as a nice gesture.
3. Gear matters.
As a self-taught photographer, I started at the bottom. My husband and I invested in a Canon 60D as well as a Tamron 17-50 2.8 VC lens. This was a great starting point but when we upgraded to a full frame body and the Sigma 50mm 1.4 ART lens, it was like heaven on a photograph. The sharpness was exquisite. The noise was minimal. The detail was ravishing. That being said, gear matters. I knew how to take a proper photograph, but the upgrade in gear took a “good” image and made it “great”. The gulf coast brings lots of challenges: rain, wind, salt, and ever-changing light. Make sure your lenses are protected with UV filters. Polarized lenses are also something to consider since they enhance the sky. The bottom line is, invest in good gear if you want to produce high quality images.
4. Communication is Key.
Don’t be afraid to ask your clients what they hope to get out of the session. When I schedule an appointment to get my hair colored, the stylist always asks “What would you like to do today?”. We need to maintain this consistency as photographers. Some families want a great family picture. Some want romantic sunset photos. Others want candid shots of their kids playing on the beach. If you are afraid to ask, they may end up disappointed with the session. If they aren’t sure what they want, a great list of poses for a typical family session on the beach can be viewed on point number 7.
5. Schedule sessions within two hours of sunrise or sunset.
Every professional photographer knows how important lighting is for a photo session. I try to schedule my hour sessions from an hour to an hour and a half before sunset. This gives me the best light of the day and ends with (hopefully) a nice colored, romantic sunset. Keep in mind, if sunset is at 7:34 pm today then it will not be black outside until nearly 8:00 pm. The importance of a camera that can handle low light and a fast lens comes into play as it gets darker outside. A great option for a full frame camera that is affordable and does great in low light is the Canon 6D. It sells for $1399 and has features such as wifi and GPS which I will discuss in point 9.
6. Create a demand for your style.
Something I have struggled with is being booked because I am being found and not necessarily because I have something unique to offer. I thrive in creative environments and strive to give every customer a dose (even if its small) of my style. I love taking lifestyle photographs in the midst of Rosemary Beach and then hitting the beach right at the end of the session. Be unique and capitalize on “you”. Some photographers use a specific filter or edit a certain way so they are known for that look. In order to be a successful photographer you have to create a brand. Once you know who you want to be, it will be much easier to become that person.
7. Common List of Poses
Since the majority of my clients are young families of up to 6 people, I have a mental list I go through to make sure we have a thorough session. Here is a layout of a typical hour session for me:
- Standing family (close together, casual – not too posey, breaks the ice)
- Couple (headshots, full length, wide, kissing, silhouette)
- Children (all together, individuals, with mother, with father, racing down the beach, walking down the beach, looking at the water)
- Girls of the family
- Boys of the family
- Walking down the beach looking at each other and laughing, walking down the beach smiling at the camera holding hands, walking into the sunset
- Family sitting with beach and shoreline behind them (mom and dad in middle with children posed equally on each side and behind)
- Jumping family – a good alternative is parents in focus with kids slightly behind blurry and jumping
- Sand dunes sitting – since I am a local and I have seen the devastating effects of hurricanes my entire life, please please please do not walk on the sand dunes. I love the look of the family about 20 feet in front of the dunes with the dunes nice and blurry (bokeh).
8. Have clear contracts with specific terms.
If you don’t have your clients fill out a contract, at least have them fill out a form on your website agreeing to your terms and conditions. I have found the following to be important:
- Deposits – Are they required and/or will be refunded at any time? We require 50% upfront. I have never had a client who paid a deposit cancel their session. I have had many who never paid a deposit cancel. If it rains and we are unable to do the session, I will refund their deposit.
- Inclement Weather Plans (Note that it is important who will decide if the session is canceled for rain. In my experience 90% of photo shoots can happen in our weather) If the weather decides not to cooperate, will you be refunding their deposit?
- What all you edit – This used to not be a priority for me until I had that horrible client who wanted every stray hair and even a jet stream photoshopped out of the image. I do not add sky overlays. I will not edit windblown hair (unless the image can be drastically improved from the editing). My clients know the beach will be windy I expect them to plan for it.
- Turnaround time – What will your turnaround time be? What happens if it’s longer? Never make false promises to clients. If it will be 1 week, give yourself two.
- Copyright release – Will you be providing them with the copyright release? Will it have a size limit (8x10’s and below, etc)? Make sure you outline these terms in your agreement.
- Model Release – Technically to use anyone’s images for advertisement, you need to have a signed model release. Even with just promoting them on your website or running a social media ad campaign, it is good to cover your business and reputation by obtaining the permission prior to the photo shoot.
9. Change poses often.
Sometimes we think a pose or background is nice…until we see it in the editing room. I don’t put all my eggs in one basket when it comes to family sessions. 5-10 images per pose is a great way to switch it up and if one of them just doesn’t wow you, it can be thrown out without sacrificing the majority of the photo shoot.
If you are like me and competiting for business in a highly saturated photography market, every bit of search engine optimization help I can get is needed. When purchasing a new camera consider one that has built in GPS. This feature takes coordinates of where you are photographing and embeds them into the meta data of each image. Google likes help when promoting photographers and if the images that are represented on your website have the GPS location of where you are marketing to, they are more likely to rank you higher than a competitor who does not.
11. Photograph the “sitting” poses last.
I always end the photo shoot with the sitting poses. Sand is not fun. Sand in undergarments is even worse and children tend to mentally check-out after they are sandy. Always approach the photo shoot with your client’s best interest in mind. For me this means wait until the end to ask them to get covered in sand. Most of the time they don’t mind and are happy to have a change of pose. The key is to ask kindly and make them feel considered and respected.
I hope you enjoyed my tips for beach photographers. Hopefully they will help you like they have helped me! To see some of my recent work, visit my beach photography website at www.beachphotosdestin.com.
If you have questions or comments regarding my photography business, feel free to email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
husband and wife. photographers. parents.