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Beach Family Photos – Capturing Memories To Cherish for a Lifetime

by Alison Large Ketcham on January 18th, 2017

family beach photosIf you’re planning to take beach family photos during your next Gulf Coast vacation, you probably have several questions:

• Should we hire a professional or take the photos ourselves?

• Should we take pictures in the morning, mid-day, or evening?

• Is it better to face the sun or have our backs to it?

• Should we pose, or are candid shots preferable?

• Should everyone’s clothes match?

If you don’t have many opportunities to get the family together and capture photographic memories, you might want to spring for a professional photographer. The investment could be well worth it, considering the years of pleasure you’ll get from great portraits. Remember, if you’re not seasoned at taking group photos on the beach, you could spend a lot of time shooting, and still end up disappointed.

“Family photos are family treasures,” said Cheryl Casey, a professional photographer based in Pensacola Beach, FL. “There are often no opportunities for do-overs, so you want to ensure that you have a good end product.”

That said, if money is an issue – and if Cousin Billy has assured you he is a pro at taking pics with his iPhone – here are a few tips for increasing the likelihood you’ll capture some brag-worthy beach family photos.

• Realize there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Photographers often find inspiration looking at other photographers’ work. So, go ahead, search online for “beach portraits” and you’ll find an endless supply to use as examples for poses, props, and what to wear.

• Shoot lots and lots and lots of photos, and then shoot more. Even the pros take many more pics than they ultimately use. One moment’s difference in a facial expression can convert a so-so photo into a captivating one. Plan on culling through lots of shots to pick out the gems.

• Time of day – Two of the most-desirable times for shooting beach photos are the hour beginning at sunrise and the hour before sunset. During these “golden hours,” the light is warm, generally making people look better. So unless it’s an overcast day, plan to shoot during a golden hour. Another benefit of shooting early and late is that the sun emits more directional light, adding dimension to images.

“But, golden hours for family portraits can be tricky – a plug for hiring a professional,” Casey said “I recommend mornings over evenings because you have more flexibility with time if something goes amiss.”

• Facing the sun or backs to it – There are benefits to both in golden light. If subjects face the sun, their faces will be warm and visible, but their eyes won’t be squinting as they would mid-day. Positioning subjects with their backs to the sun can create a glowing effect, but you might need to set your camera’s exposure to make sure faces aren’t too dark. If you’re not experienced at altering exposure and shutter speed, faces toward the sun could be the better choice.

And Casey recommended if you have to shoot mid-day – with the sun high in the sky – shoot in shade or shadows.

“But again, exposure for these kinds of shots gets very tricky,” she said. “Try and avoid shooting after 10 a.m. and before 3 to 4 p.m., depending on the time of year.”

Family of three – Dad, Mom, and daughter – taking a selfie on the beach• Posing versus candid – There are countless beautiful examples of each, although many professional photographers recommend, even if subjects are posing, there should be an element of surprise in the pic. For example, plan ahead to have one of the subjects unexpectedly lean over and tell another a secret. If you shoot numerous photos one after another, you might catch one or more great expressions.

• Clothes to wear – Casey cautions against wearing graphic T-shirts, as they might overshadow the subjects and setting. A traditional beach look is khaki bottoms and white tops, but for a fresh take, try shades of blue mixed with peaches, tans, and whites. She also says long, flowing skirts are interesting when caught in the sea breeze. And barefoot is the way to go, but make sure toenail color blends well with clothes.

If you’d like to see some of Cheryl Casey’s beach photos, visit her at Cheryl Casey Photography of Pensacola.

Where To Stay

Still looking for accommodations for your next beach getaway? We can help! Check out our beach vacation rentals. You’ll find photos, rates, amenities, and more – plus, most of our properties can be booked directly online.

Dad taking a beach family photo of his wife, daughter, and son


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