Summer vacation has officially arrived and I’m seriously so excited! Yes!!! I AM one of those summer lovin’ mothers. 🤭🤔🤗. I love the routine of not having a school schedule. I love the lazier summer days. Question: Are the summer days REALLY lazier? And I love having more time together to spend as a family. Our annual summer family vacation is something I dream about throughout the entire year!
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As I sit here drinking my morning coffee, I am looking at last year’s family beach photos, and I can’t help but wonder how my kids look so angelic! 🤔 I swear for the past week since school has let out, my kids have gotten into a disagreement approximately every five minutes just from watching each other breathe! 😜 If pictures could truly capture the reality that I live each and everyday, then I’m certain you would all feel much better about your own parenting journey. But for now… I guess I’ll just embrace it and be happy with my children “looking” like little angels in the family photos! 👼 👼 👼
And as imperfect as our family journey is, there is one thing I love having… And it’s PERFECTLY IMPERFECT family photos. Sounds pretty ironic, right? I swear I will document our imperfect daily beautiful chaos at some point! But, for now I want to focus on (and enjoy) these brief fleeting moments when all the world seems right…ha! Many people have asked me through the years… “How do you do it, Jessica? How do you get those perfect family photos each and every time?” For starters – my kids now know that I love having our pictures taken. It’s like a mini Christmas for me each time I force them to dress up…pose really nice… stand up super straight (that’s a really hard one for my son), and get along for a straight hour! Wow! The things I ask of them are just too much, right?! Our family photo shoots happen fairly often, so my children have become somewhat accustomed to knowing that a session is going to occur on practically each and every family vacation. I treasure these family photos immensely (and I know this is going to sound super twisted –ha!), but I actually enjoy getting them taken as well. My kids and husband – I’m sure they would beg to differ. But as for me– I love it!
So how DO I do it? And how can YOU ALSO get perfectly imperfect beach photos that will WOW your audience?
1. Plan in advance!
My first piece of advice is to plan your family photo session far in advance. And if you know me, you are literally cracking up now, because I don’t plan much of anything, let alone in ADVANCE! Yes. Planning a photo session in advance is a challenge to a Type B Procrastinator, but when it comes to beach photos, I know it’s necessary! It sounds pretty straight forward, but before you can get amazing pictures taken, you need to determine that you even want family photos. I then suggest looking at your vacation calendar and begin planning your session. I begin as soon as I book our annual family vacation, and I have always found this has eased my stress in some regard! I have also found when I book a photo session months in advance, I am more mentally prepared, and my kids and husband have more time to process what is about to happen. 😭
2. Hire a professional photographer!
You are using precious time on your vacation for a photo session so you might as well go all in. What’s the use of dressing up and getting picture ready to NOT get amazing images? The tips I am giving ARE NOT just to get a decent average family photo. Anyone can achieve that! My tips are to help you get those amazing WOW images that your audience will love! In order to achieve that goal, I truly believe that you really need to hire a professional. Uncle Joe- unless he is a trained professional, probably isn’t equipped to take the best photo. That stranger walking by- they want to get right back to just that… their walk! And the camera timer… well, that’s just not the best idea and seems really stressful just thinking about it! So, I’ve been asked more times than I can count, how does one go about finding a professional photographer on vacation? For starters, if you are going to a resort type area, there is typically a photography company on site. I have used these services in Mexico, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic specifically and my pictures have turned out spectacular each time! I hope to share them all with you eventually! If you are going to a United States beach destination, there are always many local photographers in the area. A simple google search – such as – “Ocean City Maryland Beach Wedding Family Photographers”, etc. should do the trick. Thanks to Instagram, once you find a photographer you like, they will often post images to instagram so you can get a feel for their work and determine if you want to hire them to capture your own precious memories.
Some of my Favorite Beach Photographers
I used Chris for our family beach photos in 2014 and he was excellent to work with! I highly recommend him! The images Chris took for me in Ocean City are out of this world! Chris- if you are reading this– I hope you can take more amazing beach photos for us soon!
The photos I used in this blog post are compliments of Victor’s amazing work. I used One Life Photography last summer and I highly recommend you to hire Victor to capture your family’s own Myrtle Beach memories. Victor- If you’re reading this, thank you so much for taking these WOW photos and I hope to see you soon!
I have not hired Sasha yet for a photo session, but I can assure you that someday I will! I am a major fan of her work, and I stalk her on Instagram. If you’re on the West Coast, be sure to check her out! You won’t be disappointed!
I have not used Flytographer yet, but I have big dreams! This service allows to you book amazing local photographers in hundreds of cities across the world, including several beach destinations. My dream of having those romantic Eiffel Tower photos with my family in Paris or those romantic Bora Bora beach photos with my husband someday just might come true thanks to this innovative business which has provided access to amazing photographers worldwide! What can I say? I told you my dreams are larger than life!
3. Take a risk!
Not only does stepping out of your comfort zone apply to real life, but it applies to family photos as well! Take the risk! It will pay off–I promise. Are you good at makeup skills? If not, considering finding a local salon that can do your makeup. All resorts or beach towns have tons of salons because they host many weddings. Plan to get a blow out on vacation, and your hair will be amazing for your family photos. If you always wear your hair up, then wear it down (or vice versa). And don’t forget to use my favorite hairspray to hold those locks into place! It’s the only hairspray that works for my girls and me! Don’t forget to use my favorite teeth whitening product to show off your pearly whites! I literally used this product right before our photo session! It works well and it’s only $19.99! After child number three, I now drink lots of coffee! This product is a lifesaver providing instant results when you don’t have time to do white strips or get professional whitening! Now, is also your chance to change up your normal attire. I am a stay at home mom and I live in yoga pants, t-shirts, and sweats 90 percent of the time. Wear that lace or sequined dress! Wear the red lipstick! The one I just linked is the exact one I’m wearing in these photos! Ask my husband about the time I made him wear white pants for our one year anniversary photo shoot! (We are going on 14 years of marriage so that is evidence that I’ve been doing these photo sessions for awhile!) He was a little defiant to wear the white pants at first, but agreed because we were 1600 miles from home, and there was a slim chance he would see one of his fraternity brothers! After he saw the pictures that were taken even he agreed I made the right choice. Perhaps I’ll pull those photos out for a future post and tag all those fraternity brothers in the pictures! Ha! But honestly, now, he just happily agrees to wear what I want him too! 🤪
4. Match but don’t match!
Please, I beg you… If you are reading this post– (and I don’t mean to offend anyone), but take my advice and DO NOT dress in khaki pants and a white shirt for your beach photos (or any photo for that matter). It will only send your family into this hilarious book– Awkward Family Photos. Look it up! But I’m warning you– you could die an early death of laughing too hard! This concept also applies to jeans. Please DO NOT dress each member of your family in jeans and a white shirt either. So, what should you wear? I have found the most pleasing beach photos occur when a coordinated color scheme is applied. Match, but don’t match is how I like to say it. Coordinate your outfits with 2-3 different colors or a color scheme within the same color family. Don’t be afraid to incorporate textures as well. Mix dressier pieces with casual pieces. Jeans work nicely with lace dresses. Linen works nicely with satin dresses. Wear shorts and pants, and long dresses and short dresses. It works best when the outfits are coordinated, but not matched perfectly. Mixing and matching is the way to go! I take great pleasure in finding a stand out dress for myself for the photo session. What can I say?– it’s one of the small joys in my life! I also love to find unique boutique type outfits or dresses for my girls! I love coordinating their outfits with a matching Etsy hair accessory and classic jewelry. For my husband and son, I usually stick to basics from Old Navy, Banana Republic, Gap, Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Express Men. Linen is one of my favorite fabrics to incorporate for men! I usually try to stick to timeless outfits and colors, and try to refrain from any apparel or colors that are too trendy. Although I LOVE trends, since having family photos taken can be a BIG investment, I suggest striving for TIMELESS and CLASSIC images. You want to enjoy seeing these photos on your walls for years to come, so keep that in mind when choosing your attire and a color scheme!
5. Be different!
Try to come up with something that hasn’t been done often before. I should have put a patent on wearing chambray coordinated with ivory for beach photos, because after I did it — and my professional photographer used my photos online–I saw a hundred other families followed suit and used this same color combination. There are 10 million colors we can see in the world, so your options are limitless. Do something different! It will pay off. I am so excited for our family’s 2018 beach photos that will be taken soon. You’ll have to come back to my blog or follow me on instgram to see my color scheme for this year’s beach photos. I’m so excited!
6. Timing is everything!
At what point in your vacation do you schedule your session? I usually aim for the second or third day of vacation. Why? The first day allows you to become comfortable with your surroundings. I like to schedule photos early in the trip because I like to avoid tan lines, and I like to relax my diet some on vacation. Honestly, I don’t want to have them taken on the last days of the trip when I’m bloated and grumpy! Also- if you wait until the later part of the trip, the weather could not work in your favor and you could be left without an option to reschedule. My husband’s sole purpose of an early session is to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible. Allow adequate time to not only get ready for your session, but try to schedule the best time of day for your children. Beach photos will often be taken during sunrise or sunset. I am not a morning person, so it’s doubtful I’ll ever do a sunrise session. But who knows– maybe someday I’ll be up for the challenge! Ha! I never thought I’d be a coffee drinker either so there is hope! And if you do opt for that sunrise or sunset session, either way, be prepared to cover those bags under your eyes. I swear by this drugstore undereye age rewind concealer. It’s super easy to apply and can be tossed in your purse for a quick touchup. I’m a makeup snob and this drugstore find is one of my favorite beauty products! The reality is that only you will know the best time of day for your own family. If your kids need an earlier or later nap on the day of the session to make it through peacefully, plan accordingly. Do they need to eat an earlier dinner? Plan accordingly. And while I’m talking about dinner, be sure to pack a small tote of snacks, baby wipes, hairspray, bobby pins, pressed powder or blotting papers, and a wardrobe malfunction kit just in case. I’ve used most of these items just about every time I’ve ever had family photos taken!
7. Pay attention to details!
I can’t stress enough to try to pay attention to details. I know this isn’t as easy of a feat for some people as it is for me. My husband has been calling me “Eagle Eye” since we were dating. And it’s funny that I now consider my attentiveness to details one of my gifts! I can’t deny the fact that this gift sure comes in handy when capturing amazing family photos! Look for stray bunches of hair, fallen straps, wardrobe malfunctions, and foreign objects in the the background of the photos. If the swimsuit you have been wearing has straps, then you won’t want a strapless dress because of the tan lines. Don’t count on your photographer to notice all these details. They have a bigger job and that is capturing that STANDOUT photo! Paying attention to details during the photo session can heighten the stress level while the session is happening; however, the difference between getting good photos and GREAT photos is truly in the details.
8. Trust the photographer, but don’t be afraid to incorporate your own ideas!
If you hire a professional, chances are they will have their own amazing ideas for your family photos. And although their ideas are often times great, don’t be afraid to speak up and share some of your own. Last year, I had this idea to have my kids run around my husband and me. I wanted to document the perfectly imperfect chaos that we live. Ha! These were the last photos of the session that were taken and they just so happened to be my favorite images. If you have an idea– be sure to mention it. I love learning from photographers but I think photographers can learn from us- their clients- as well!
9. Offer your kids an incentive!
I’m just being honest. Having family pictures done will probably be a little stressful for your children. It’s probably not the most exciting thing either that they will get to do on vacation. You want them to do their best and act appropriately! I am a huge believer in positive reinforcement in parenting. I apply this concept for family photos as well. I usually tell my children before the photo session that getting family photos is the one thing that I really want to take away from the vacation. It’s MY souvenir of the trip per say. I tell them that if they cooperate for our family photos, then they will be allowed to do an excursion of choice or pick a souvenir of choice. (Let’s be realistic – you are probably doing an excursion anyway as well as letting them take home a souvenir, so it’s a NO BRAINER!) It’s a WIN for everyone! Trust me– it works well to get them to cooperate for the photo session!
10. Just be!
So throughout this entire post, I’ve given pointers for getting those “perfect” beach photos — and I’m now going to completely contradict myself. I truly believe that the perfect beach pictures are actually NOT PERFECT. Let the kids play! Let them roll in the sand! In one of these pictures my son is completely covered in sand from head to toe! Can you find it? LOL! Kiss your husband. Show a little PDA. Make the kids cringe. Dance on the beach. Tune out your surroundings. Forget the perfectly posed image but focus on getting the perfectly posed image. Forget you are having your family photo taken but remember you are having your family taken. Are these statements ironic? My goal of a photo session is always the same… and it’s to turn our family photo session into an amazing memory. Enjoy the time spent with your family. Each time we have done family vacation photos, I have left the session with not only a sense of relief, (Ha!) but also an amazing memory. When getting our pictures taken, we always laugh hard. We always pose hard. During one session, I even cried pretty hard. Lol. And I know this sounds cheesy, but one time after our photo session my husband actually told me that when we do photo sessions, the spark comes back alive in our marriage. He said that it’s crazy how that we can leave the session more in love than when we started it. I couldn’t agree more and it is my wish for you is to experience this too through your family photo session. (My husband just informed me that he took the initiative and scheduled pictures for our beach trip in the summer of 2019! Is he finally reading my love language? Ha!)
I firmly believe that if you follow my TEN TIPS I listed above, you will find at the end of your photo session that not only will you have photos that will WOW your audience, but you will be left with memories to last a lifetime– literally and figuratively!
Thank you so much for following along and I hope you all come back soon! Your support means so much to me!