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  • Writer's pictureKatie Foster

6 Tips For Scheduling Your Beach Portrait Session

Hey there! Are you thinking about booking a portrait session at the beach? Yay, I'm excited for you already! A beach portrait session is not just a photo session, it's an excursion for your family. It's an experience that (with the right conditions and photographer) can bring your family together and give you fond memories. Hopefully you'll have those memories on your wall so you can go back to your fun family vacation whenever you want!


If you're getting ready to book a family beach portrait session there are some things you should know to get the most out of it.


1. Choose a Photographer who Listens to You.

If you want to get the most out of your session you need to find a photographer that will listen when you're telling them what you want! I know, duh! Not the biggest revelation. But sometimes it's easy to just fall in love with someone's work and let that be the end of it. Take some time to talk to the photographer, either by phone or email. See how it makes you feel. If you feel like they are understanding you and are excited you will have the best chance to have a great session.



2. Kids Are Happier in the Evening!

I know it...this doesn't seem right. Most of my clients who have small children want to book a session in the morning because their baby or toddler will be in a better mood. And as a mom of 3 with my kids being 2 years apart I completely understand that logic. But there is one thing that throws a wrench in that plan: the sun.


In the Outer Banks, and east coast in general, the sun rises over the ocean. You're probably like "duh Katie, tell me something I don't know!" But the sun being over the ocean in the morning changes everything. It causes the light to bounce off the water, shooting light all around. It's BRIGHT. Which makes for bright, vibrant photos. The problem is that this brightness can be over-stimulating for kids. It can be over-stimulating for me too! It makes for squinty eyes and cranky kids.


It's hot in the morning by the time we get to July. I alway try to bring an extra water bottle with me just in case. I have had multiple situations were someone in the group feels faint during a morning session. It's usually because they didn't eat breakfast before and the sun is just draining in the morning! When this happens we take a break and drink some water! I'll usually photograph another part of the group that is feeling okay while we wait.


If you do end up deciding to book your session for the morning: go for earlier.

Sunrise to 9:30am are the best times. Remember, if you have squinters in your family stay away from morning sessions!


I've been photographing beach portraits in the Outer Banks for 15 years now and I can tell you that I have had better luck with happy kids during evening sessions than in the morning.





3. Book Sunset Time if You Can!

Sunset time changes everything. The sun is behind the dunes so we can do the ocean in the background for everything. Or get a little bit of everything, dune and ocean, if you have a lot of time in your session.





4. Talk to Your Photographer About the Size of Your Group and Your Wish List BEFORE You Decide on a Time.

Your photographer knows how long they take to get things done in a session. And not all photographers go at the same speed. So don't rely on what you were able to get done during your last session with a different photographer.


30 minutes is my favorite amount of time for groups under 12 people. We can get a lot done and I don't have to take up too much of your vacation time! If you have a group that is over 18 people I definitely recommend an hour. We can always use up the whole time. But if there isn't enough time it's a shame.


I love to set things up in a photo session so that things feel easy but we are going fast. I've been doing sessions for a long time now and I know how to build up and break down groups to get the most out of our time together. It's always my goal to get the most for you while making it fun!




5. Book earlier in the week.

I feel like you might be getting mad at me by this point...I'm sorry! I know you were probably thinking that near the end of the week would be better because you'd have time to get situated and, even better, you'd have time to get tan. And if that's what you need, do it! Always do what's best for you and yours when it comes to making plans for your vacation.


BUT if you have family members that end up resembling lobsters after a couple days in the sun, I suggest booking your session for earlier in the week. Booking earlier means you can have time to get sun-kissed and not sun-smacked. It also means we have more opportunities to reschedule if your session day ends up being rainy.


I have noticed that families tend to be in a happier mood at the beginning of the week. Their vacation has just started and they have plenty of time. If you're like me and you begin to mourn the end of vacation by day 4, book near the beginning of your vacay!





6. Use Your Photographer's Preferred Location.

I don't think I would be saying this if this post was about booking a session in general. But for beach portrait sessions I think this is very important. Not all beach accesses are equal and there is a reason why your photographer is recommending it.


Beach portraits can be tricky. Photographers have to take into account the time of year, time of day, wind direction and rate, tide and even more. If a photographer is in a new location they need time to figure it out, taking in those factors. But if your photographer is at an access that they have photographed many times they already know the perfect spot to shoot for each of those situations. That means more time shooting and less time thinking!


I have showed up at a beach access before and found that there was no beach. It was high tide and I had to photograph a family of 20. It was so disappointing for us. We ended up making the best out of the situation but it took me some time to figure it out. We got less shots than we were hoping and the photos would have been better in the spot I know and trust.







Well that's it for now! I hope these tips help set you up for a great family portrait session! If you ever need advice about booking family portraits, even if it's not in the Outer Banks, please feel free to message me. I always love to help!




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