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I'm a wedding photographer based out of South Bend, Indiana.

I believe in always having a vase full of fresh flowers, especially during peony season. That ending a long day should always be on the patio, with a good book and a glass of rosé. And, going to the beach is always a good idea.

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The beach offers a picturesque backdrop for any session, with its vast expanse of sand, the soothing sound of waves, and the ever-changing sky providing a stunning natural canvas. Planning a session at the beach requires careful consideration to ensure you capture the essence of your subjects amidst the beauty of the coastal environment. From selecting the right time of day to choosing the perfect location and coordinating outfits, here’s your guide to planning an unforgettable beach portrait session.

Choosing the Right Time

Timing is crucial when planning a beach portrait session. The golden hours—early morning or late afternoon—offer the most flattering natural light, casting a warm, soft glow over the surroundings. Aim to schedule your session during these times to capture stunning images with beautiful lighting. Additionally, consider checking the weather forecast to avoid unexpected rain or harsh sunlight, which can impact the quality of your photos.

Selecting the Perfect Location

Beaches come in various shapes and sizes, each offering its own unique charm. Whether you prefer a secluded cove, a bustling boardwalk, or a windswept stretch of sand, choose a location that reflects the aesthetic you want to achieve. Keep in mind factors such as accessibility, crowds, and any permit requirements for photography sessions on public beaches. If possible, scout the location in advance to identify the best spots for shooting and plan your compositions accordingly.

Coordinating Outfits

When it comes to outfit choices for a beach portrait session, opt for attire that complements the coastal setting without overpowering it. Light, airy fabrics in soft pastel tones or neutral colors work well against the backdrop of sand and sea. Avoid busy patterns or vibrant colors that may distract from the natural beauty of the surroundings. Consider coordinating outfits for a cohesive look, but avoid overly matching ensembles that appear too staged. Encourage your subjects to dress comfortably and accessorize with beach-inspired elements like hats, scarves, or sandals to add visual interest to the photos.

Incorporating Props

Props can enhance your beach portrait session by adding depth and visual appeal to your compositions. Consider incorporating items such as beach blankets, umbrellas, seashells, or driftwood to create unique vignettes within your images. Props can also serve as natural focal points or provide opportunities for interactive poses, allowing your subjects to engage with their surroundings and each other in a meaningful way.

Capturing Candid Moments

While posed portraits have their place, don’t overlook the beauty of candid moments captured organically during your beach session. Encourage your subjects to relax, have fun, and interact naturally with each other, allowing you to capture genuine emotions and expressions. Whether it’s a playful splash in the waves, a tender embrace at sunset, or a spontaneous laughter-filled moment, these candid shots often become cherished treasures that evoke memories of the day.

Planning a portrait session at the beach offers endless opportunities for creativity and expression against the backdrop of nature’s splendor. By carefully considering factors such as timing, location, outfits, props, and capturing candid moments, you can create a collection of stunning images that truly reflect the beauty and spirit of your subjects amidst the coastal landscape. So grab your camera, head to the shore, and let the magic of the beach inspire your next portrait session.

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