Erin Costa is an award winning wedding and portrait photographer based in Hampstead, North Carolina. Her team offers photography for: engagements, studio portraits, newborns, beach portraits (Topsail Island, Figure Eight Island, Wrightsville Beach) and both photography and videos for weddings. She has shared a few tips with us for preparing for your beach portrait sessions below, and you can check out more of her beach portrait portfolio here.
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. 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 sunburns and burn lines the best that we can. The best remedy for this is to schedule your session at the beginning of the week. Another reason for 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 to get all of those sessions in.
2. Schedule your session for sunrise or an hour before sunset
When you schedule with your photographer, they should be informing you that 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. The sun is the softest at these times and creates the most flattering light for your portraits.
3. Plan and coordinate your outfits
We recommend when planning your outfits that you choose complimentary colors and try to mix it up. Pick a color scheme, whether it’s navy/white/pink 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 hard to coordinate different colors-we have certainly seen some beautiful outfits using all cream/navy. For ladies, we recommend staying away from thin cotton maxi dresses (they tend to cling to your body in the wind in sometimes 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 or rebuking your children during the session (yikes, I 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 ridiculous noises. 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 seem daunting and overwhelming. The great news is since the best light is an hour before sunset, your session will only last about an hour! With our families, we make sure 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 in 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 the photographer (we encourage it!).
We hope these tips come in handy when you are scheduling your next beach portrait session!