Such a pleasure meeting The Hauser Family who initially found my work on Instagram and connected with me there. I actually really love when client's find me there, it's like my very own social media portfolio and super easy to navigate to see all my most recent work. And there you will also see that I work with a lot of extended family groups on the beach. I think part of what makes me so successful in making a cohesive gallery is that I have a rhythm and a flow to my sessions and the first and most important part of that is:
TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
When I say we ideally don't start until 30 minutes before sun-down, I really do mean that. My best sessions all take place within 30 minutes of sunset and can continue up to 10 minutes past sun down depending on the cloud coverage and available light. It's when the sky is at it's peak of color also.
Looking back at my settings and metadata for this session I can see that we started this first part of the session at 8:00pm sharp with sunset that day being 8:29pm. I'm using a Nikon D750 body, and a 135mm Sigma Art lens at f/4 + 1/640 for group shots. I always start with sun setting behind the dunes, mostly because people can't usually take the direct sun in their eyes without squinting or their eyes watering but also because it gives a chance for a classic backdrop. These are almost always the images that people frame for their walls. If I'm doing a single family I'll often do a standing and sitting pose here by the dunes. The sand is also dry here so it's easier to brush off and then move on to the shots along the water. We start by doing alllll the groupings here. Full family, grand parents with the grandchildren, grand children alone, then we move on to individual families and the sibling shots there. If we started a little earlier than I would like I will sometimes also do couples, individual shots of children, and any special request shots.
There are two major things I'm accomplishing here:
1. Creating wall-worthy images with the same backdrop to look flawless on any wall or in any album.
2. Buying myself a little bit of time until the sun is just low enough to move closer to the waterline.
Pro-tip for a good posing flow:
1. Start with all standing side by side, then create a second post with more of a stacked or pyramid pose utilizing taller children or parents kneeling or sitting.
2. When moving from group to grandparents and grandchildren all you have to do is remove the other adults.
3. When moving from grandparents with grand children all you have to do is remove the grandparents.
So next order of business is that classic, walking along the beach shot. When I can see the sun has gone just behind houses, or the level of the dunes and I can see that there isn't any harsh lighting on the beach we move out that way. For this particular session that was at 8:13pm which is just 16 minutes now until official sunset.
I back up as much as possible, especially since I'm using my 135mm and they do a mix of looking at me and each other. My settings for these shots are a little different since I'm further away and ideally, everyone is on the same focal plane. These are shot at f/3.5 and 1/800, a higher shutter speed because my clients are also moving. Transitioning from walking to this pose above is not hard. These last three shots were all taken within a matter of three minutes.
1. Every beach has different lighting because the sun will always set in a different spot based on location and time of year.
2. Always pose clients with wind blowing towards them so that their hair does not blow into their face.
I always take care of doing the families with younger kids first, since we neverrrr know how quickly they will just be "done" with me and the whole experience. Luckily this family's kids were on point and super cooperative. But not every client is the same and that's okay. You learn to adapt and to change your posing flow based on the client.
Right here is where we've hit 8:29pm and the official sunset time on the beach. As you can see though, still plenty of light to shoot as these were taken at f/2.9 and 1/500. My ISO for most beach sessions ranges from 320-1200 depending on the light.
The end of my sessions is where we usually let kids run and play in the water. Being that most of these kids are a little older they weren't as keen on that idea so they opted to do something a little fun just involving the whole group. I can't wait to see what they choose for their Christmas card!