As the 2019 year came to a close I will say that even with my third summer offering beach sessions, and a record breaking 50 clients with families big and small, I still continue to learn more and more each time I step onto the sand. And still I always find myself amazed at how incredible our earth and atmosphere really is. With the 2020 season now in full swing here in Charleston I am happy to continue to offer these sessions!
So, why the beach? Why is it so popular?
The beach is a relaxing and magical place, and phenomenon of sunrise and sunset is just makes it that much more amazing. It's a calming place and one of solitude. Millions of people travel to the beach each year to vacation and science suggests that the salty air and sound of the waves is both emotionally and mentally beneficial; you can read more about that in this NBC News article. Each sunrise and sunset is unique and varies based on the time of year, the weather, cloud coverage and more and the beach is the best view. If you've ever wondered what causes the the colors in the sky read this quick article HERE that explains the particles in the atmosphere.
When is the best time to book?
Beach Sessions book all year long but the ideal months are between March and August. Sessions are booked Monday through Thursday for sunrises and sunsets, Friday sunrises only if needed. Sunrise sessions typically start about 10-15 minutes before the sun comes up, sunset sessions usually start about 20-30 minutes before the sun sets. I take a maximum of 4 beach sessions a week, and every client books an initial date, and a backup date in case of poor weather, which does happen often here. With that reason in mind, I usually prefer to book MOST beach sessions at sunrise. It's less HOT here in the early mornings, the chances of thunderstorms here on the coast are a fraction of what they are in the afternoons and evenings. You can see now why these sessions book so quickly!
What do you recommend for children?
Kids are usually in the best mood when they're well rested from a good night's sleep. Often times when you're here on vacation you cram so many things into your day to see and do that by the afternoon and evening the kids are DONE and are ready for bed. With sunset at 8:30pm here in Charleston during the summer, they never make it. It's meltdown mode. Thus being why sunrise is HIGHLY recommended for children under 3 years of age. Timing is key when planning for your session, I will trust you as the parent to know their sleep schedule and happiest times, so just keep the little ones in mind when you're choosing your time frame.
Why only Sunrise and Sunset, and why only Monday through Thursday?
There is no shade or trees on the beaches here, so during the day you're squinty without sunglasses and you're sweaty within about 30 seconds in the summer. During Sunrise and Sunset the sun is at the lowest point along the horizon and therefore is indirect on the subjects. This results in cooler temperatures and less harsh lighting so less sweating and no squinting. Another reason for the specific time frames is that if you've ever been to the beach in the summer, and especially if you've ever been to the beach in the south you know how HOT and how CROWDED the beach is during the day. Charleston is a major tourist and vacation destination attracting MILLIONS each year so not only do we have our own mass of residents flooding the beach during the day, but thousands of tourists we have month to month, all summer long...
With that being said, sunrise and sunset are the quietest times along the coast while also being the most serene, better temperatures, and best lighting. Three birds, one stone.
What do we wear? I get this question a lot and its a great one! I always recommend dressing Mom FIRST for single family sessions. It's usually harder for Mom to find something she is completely comfortable and confident in so start with her first. As a general rule I usually recommend light colors, pastels, easy on eye patterns or florals, nothing too bold unless that's your style. Try to aim for a more relaxed look and untucked shirts since you will all be barefoot. If dressing an entire group or extended family you can go classic and monotone/matching, or bold and exciting! Take a look at the examples below and discuss with your family to see what type of family shot you love best for your walls. I do always recommend not to match exactly, but to add a little variety and pop of pattern or color in your group to break up the look.
Below are some images from my favorite sessions with outfit pairings. Pinterest is a great resource to find color palettes and what tones and colors work well together. I also have a couple of dresses in my client closet that are perfect for mom and the beach if you're stumped on finding anything else. Just ask!
What should I expect for our session from start to finish?
In general, I try to take every session through a step by step routine of posing and natural moments. I do this because after three years of working with children and families of all sizes at the beach I know what works and I know what is able to be accomplished in the time frame I have. Timing is everything with the sun and available light when it comes to my camera. Typically I do leave some time for any special requests or poses,
For sunrise sessions I have families arrive about 15 minutes prior to sun up (also known as "first light") so that we can accomplish a series of silhouettes. These are some of my most popular shots and make your family into a real work of art. These portraits are perfect for mantels, bedroom walls, accent walls and more. From there I typically lead into my traditional poses of the full family, siblings, parents and individuals of children. If working with an extended family we work in a similar fashion- full family, grand parents with grandchildren, grandchildren, individual families, siblings of individual families and then we come back to full family in a different pose. Walking down the beach, kids running around parents or grandparents, and we end with playing on the water line, kicking and splashing. If starting before sunset we start with walking and candids and lead into posed images as the sun begins to drop below the horizon. We always end with the fun splashing so that everyone keeps their attire dry for the majority of the session.
So, what time is sunrise or sunset? It changes daily. I will be contacting you based on weather 24-48 hours prior to your session with a meeting time but if you’d like to know ahead of time just google it, or you can always ask Siri! Beach sessions are very time and light specific and the time WILL NOT budge unless there is a change in weather and cloud coverage expected. The “perfect light” for beach sessions with that gorgeous sky and soft lighting in the images you see in my portfolio are all taken within these time frames so please, don’t take it personal if you ask to change your start time and I decline your request. I’m doing what I know is best to create the best images possible!
What if it rains?
I always tell my clients not to stress about the weather. If you're from this area or the Florida coast you already know it rains here every day, but for my clients from the north or west, it's harder to explain. Charleston sits in a very peculiar place when it comes to winds, trade winds, and storm systems. It's very likely that when you look at the weather report during your visit that there will be at least 50% chance of storms EVERY day. That's totally normal, and correct. It most likely will rain every day that you're here but the difference is that not all rain lasts very long. And if it does, this is why every client books TWO dates in my schedule.
What we look at is the hourly report as it leads up to the timing of your session and the radar. This is where I will need you to trust me. I'm not a meteorologist, but I have been living and working here for 6 years and I know that things can change hour to hour. I always follow weather reports for hours leading up to a session and will be able to make the best call about 2 hours prior to the session. There are some storm systems that just "pop-up" within the hour that can't really be predicted either. So just trust that I am making the best call for you and your family.
It is definitely recommended to bring a towel and sometimes a change of clothes/diapers since the littles sommmmetimes get a little out of hand towards the end. But who can really blame them? It's the beach and the water is SO WARM!