How to prepare for a family photoshoot on the beach

  1. Ask your photographer what to wear

    Each photographer has a different take on what a client should wear to a photo shoot, but it really is a very important piece of the puzzle. Clothes will set the style of the photoshoot and I’m pretty certain you will have booked the photographer based on seeing their previous photographs. Am I right? Well, the photographer you book will know how to achieve that style over and over again, and quite often they have a specific colour palette in mind.

    I prefer that my clients stay away from branded and patterned clothing and preferably choose timeless block colours instead. If there are multiple members of your family, you don’t have to all be matching and you definitely do not have to go out and buy new clothes. If you give your wardrobe a little thought, I am sure everyone has outfits that will create a timeless photograph. I offer all my clients a mood board of images to draw inspiration for their wardrobe choices – I regularly update this and love seeing every families interpretation.

    TOP TIP: Bring a bag of ‘spare’ clothing. If you are photographing on the beach the likelihood is that one of you will get wet in the sea or spill ice cream down your front!

  2. Be prepared for all types of weather

    I was born and raised in the UK, I am not afraid of a little rain! But… weather can impact everyone’s moods, especially children. If they are too hot, too cold, too wet and everything in between the mood of the photoshoot can plummet. I personally love photographing in all types of weather – it brings out the natural storyteller in me and there is a greater variety of images because of it. Embrace the elements and you will be rewarded with brilliant photographs.

  3. Bring snacks

    For you, for your children and perhaps even for your photographer! Everyone is always happier when they’ve been fed and watered. Bringing out snacks as a reward for good behaviour or to calm the mood of a child who isn’t cooperating is a lifeline in family photography.

  4. Bring toys

    For all the reasons about snacks, bring toys as well. Children often need a distraction and a bag of their favourite toys can create a harmonious environment. If you are at the beach, bring a bucket and spade, a ball game, a frisbee, a card game – anything you would normally bring to the beach on a day out, bring it along with you for your photoshoot. I love photographing families in a documentary and candid way and this can only happen when all members of the family are relaxed and having a good time.

  5. Ask your photographer about props

    I will always bring a blanket with me to a photoshoot on the beach, it brings another element to the photographs and can make sitting on the ground a little more appealing when you’re wearing a nice outfit. Do you have a prop you’d like to bring with you? 100% bring it along. I’ve had parents bring bubbles for their child and it made one of my favourite images!

  6. Location is everything

    As the photographer, If I recommend a location I will have scouted it out once, if not twice before we photograph there. I make sure it has easy accessibility, toilets, cafes nearby, shelter from the rain etc. I like to know that the location I will photograph will be easy for my clients and families. There is nothing worse than turning up to a location to have a photoshoot and either needing the toilet, not being able to find parking, desperate for a drink of water – you know what I’m talking about!

    If you are choosing the location, and it’s at the beach, does it have the above factors? If it doesn’t, let your photographer know and make sure you are prepared for all eventualities.

    I personally love going on an adventure and exploring new places, off the beaten track. I’m always prepared though and would encourage my clients and families to think ahead before choosing somewhere remote.

  7. Arrive early

    There is nothing worse than arriving flustered and stressed because you are late. Of course, things happen, life gets in the way and sometimes you just can’t help it – but – if you can help it, try and plan way in advance when to leave home to arrive for your family photoshoot. To get the best photographs you need to be rested, happy and calm. Arriving on time will help start that relaxed process.

  8. Timing is everything

    Deciding on what time to have your family photoshoot at the beach is really important. You need to make sure your children are going to be awake and happy to be there – try not to schedule the photoshoot when you know your child usually naps or is not at their best.

    Timing in the day is also important fo the photographs. Photographing families on the beach at midday in the bright sunshine is not ideal. I always try and book my family photoshoot clients either early in the morning or at sunset. The light is not too bright, but still special enough to make the photographs magical.

    So, remember those two things when booking your photoshoot – it really will make all the difference.

  9. Allow your children to be children

    There is a right and wrong way of directing children when photographing them. I believe children should be children. They should be allowed to run around in the sand and paddle in the sea, they should chase their siblings, they should laugh and giggle. As soon as we start restricting the natural flow, children freeze up and tense. They won’t play nice anymore, they won’t want to be photographed and you could waste a lot of your valuable photoshoot time.

    TOP TIP: Get the group photographs and more posed portraits as a whole family complete first. Children will tend to stick close to their parents at the beginning of a family photoshoot, whilst they are working out who the photographer is, anyway. Once they have gotten to know the photographer and the posed photographs are out of the way, the fun can begin and play can commence. The best photographs are when the parents get involved – so make sure you’re up for some fun!

  10. Trust your photographer

    Are you booking a photographer who has photographed families before and you like and respect their work? Trust me when I say they will know what they’re doing.

    As a photographer and in my other lines of work I have had a lot of experience with children. I am one of five siblings and I have countless cousins. When I was at University I worked as a nanny in London for two different families (with children of varying ages) as well as teaching the violin 1-1. After University I worked for three years as a school photographer in one of East Anglia’s top schools. Trust me when I say I know what I’m doing!

I hope this guide has given you some tips for your next family photoshoot on the beach. Creative and timeless photographs can be created with little stress and I really think it is one of the best locations for family portraits!

Have you booked your photographer yet?

If not, I’d love to chat about photographing your family 🙂 Contact me using the button below.


Mar 3, 2021

Hannah Hutchins

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