It’s become SUCH second nature for this girl to step into the sand, photograph people til she’s content and end up coming home covered in sand and saltwater and with the fullest heart. But getting to the point where beach sessions were EASY and effortless started with me figuring quite a few things out to successfully push through some of the tough elements you need to take into consideration! Let’s talk about those below and not be afraid to get a little sandy and sun-kissed together! 🙂
Beach Tip ONE: Sand is going to happen, and there’s no getting around it!
First things first, you have to come to terms with the fact that you will indeed be getting “sandy” and you truly can’t avoid it….so EMBRACE it! Would it make you feel better if I said sand can be very exfoliating? Haha! If you’re a sand hater, you may want to ask your clients to reconsider but if you love them, you’ll push through…right? I personally wear flip flops and kick them off right when I get there because looking completely dressed to the nines is not really an option, especially if it’s hot! But beware, light material dresses WILL fly up in the wind…make sure it’s heavier material or a maxi if you wear a dress to the beach! And accept that sand will in fact come home with you in many different ways 🙂 If you bend down and get your knees in the sand, WAIT until you put your camera away to brush it off to avoid transferring too much to your camera!
Beach Tip TWO: Tuck those straps in!!!
I have done this 100 times and sometimes, I kick myself but I am slowly getting smarter about it. I bring a Kelly Moore bag with me because it’s crazy durable and fits all I need in it, but I DO need to put it down. I have no problem placing my bag in the sand but it’s when I don’t lay my straps on top and I let them fall into the sand that I bring too much home on my extra camera body and on the lenses! It’s not good, you can end up with a LOT of sand covering that precious glass and it’s not always easy to shake out of camera bags because of all of the velcro inserts…so trust me, tuck the straps in and if it’s really windy, ZIP IT UP!
Beach Tip THREE: Sunrise & sunset on sea & sound knowledge is CRUCIAL, and when should you shoot?
If you’re an East Coaster like us, you know that the sun rises over the ocean and sets on the sound side. I love this and I think that actually, if you’re up EARLY enough, you can catch some unbelievably soft and inspiring morning light on the ocean but when it comes up on a clear day, that reflection on the ocean is almost pure whiteout and can be extremely hard to work with. I shoot most sessions on the ocean at sunset, and if I am shooting on the sound side…I have to schedule that pretty close to when the sun drops. I schedule all sessions about 1 1/2 hours before projected sunset but if the day is expected to be super cloudy, I will ask the clients to meet me earlier to avoid too much BLUE. Blue hour can be pretty for some moodier styles of photography, but BRIGHT is this mama’s jam! Use THIS website when scheduling your session especially if it’s in the future months so you’re prepped for a good golden window!
Beach Tip FOUR: You can get a BAD burn or a super awkward tan!
Shooting a wedding during the day on the beach? You’ll be so wrapped up in surviving the heat and sun and squinting with that lens in front of your face, you may forget sunscreen! DON’T! Remember to apply lightly and rub in well on face because your camera will be pretty greasy otherwise, but I have horribly weird shirt tans and burns from previous times when I didn’t take care of myself.
Beach Tip FIVE: You may have to get creative when it’s crowded!
It’s easy to get frustrated when you show up to a location and it’s crowded…but honestly, if you’re at the beach in the summer time… you should probably expect that! If you’re shooting on the Outer Banks, it’s tough to find an “open” spot, although sometimes I tend to luck out beautifully lately because I’m shooting at dinner time and everyone’s off the beach after their long all-dayers. I love pier locations because the structure is gorgeous, you can use it to filter bright light if you show up and shoot a little too early, and they are great to tuck under a little when it starts to sprinkle if you run into that. Just remember to be respectful of other photographers who want to use the pier structure! When the light settles a little more and the sun isn’t beating onto the ocean just before sunset, that’s the PERFECT time to place your family or clients right in front of the sea and unless you are around a ton of surfers or people swimming far out there, you will probably have a perfectly clean background for them.
Beach Tip SIX: Bring water and food for yourself for the drive back!
Working out in the heat can be exhausting, and sometimes you use adrenaline to get you through shooting and don’t realize how tired, thirsty, and weak you are until you get in the car to head home. In order for me to have enough energy to make it back and be motivated enough to plug in the pictures and back them up when I’m home and get a little work done, I make sure to have something waiting for me in the car afterward!
Beach Tip SEVEN: Some kids hate the sand and water and that’s okay, have a PLAN!
I’ve run into this more times than I can count! Honestly, it’s OKAY because if they’re not around it all the time…they probably just have no idea how to deal with it. The ocean can be rough, and that’s scary for kids! I think bribery works best (yep, if you give me permission I will tell your kids I’m giving them ice cream after even though YOU have to take them but hey, you guys said it was okay:)) (I’m laughing now because I do the same hahahah) and if you have a BIG family session I highly recommend writing down breakdowns of family pictures you want using first names, listing them out and letting him or her call them out and literally assembly-line-style shoot until all breakdowns are done, AND THEN go with the flow candid stuff! It’s so much better to get the posed stuff out of the way first and then let kids be kids. The best pictures in the world to me are the silliest and most random ones of sisters throwing sand at each other or grandpa’s hilarious face holding a little one upside down and everyone is cracking up.
Beach Tip EIGHT: Salt air is GREAT for breathing, but salty lenses are not good!
I was shooting the best vow renewal recently and it was a VERY VERY VERY windy day. And chilly. The wind was picking up the water straight from the ocean and spraying my lens and it creates a “soft” look which is actually NOT a good thing! This will affect the sharpness of your images and makes it harder to edit! I was able to bring some back to life but most of the ones where salt was covering the lens made it hard to save. I realized it only a few pictures into shooting, but you DO need to watch for that salt spray covering your lens before it’s too late and you lose a LOT of images!
Want a bonus tip about something that REALLY sneaks up on photographers on the Outer Banks and causes a big headache during shoots? Head over to our Instagram account and watch our Instastory this morning! 🙂
Want to keep up with an Outer Banks mama of three sweet (and oh so wild!) little girls shooting weddings & small business photography while making time for the things that matter most? Click on the links below and let’s connect!🙂