As a photographer in Puerto Rico, I take a lot of beach photos! The beaches in Palmas Del Mar, Culebra, Vieques and other nearby areas are perfect for an unforgettable family, engagement or baby photo.
However, taking photos on the beach can be a challenge. There are a lot of elements to contend with, from ocean conditions, wind, sun and many other factors that affect the end result: the photos! It’s my job to know what to expect, prepare for and have the experience to deal with the beach’s changing conditions.
This list is to help you know what to expect in your beach photo shoot so you can be prepared as well.
If there is something very specific you are looking for, let me know BEFORE we meet at the location. We only have a small window of time and the more we can plan before we get there, the better. Please send me your inspiration photos, your Pinterest pictures, your likes and dislikes before the shoot so we are on the same page from the start.
2. Light is everything
Most of the beaches in Palmas Del Mar face slightly southeast. This means the morning sun rises over the ocean and sets behind you at an angle. The best light for a photo shoot is in the early morning and just as the sun is setting, an hour or two before sunset. There are some complications though, due to the close proximity to palm trees on the beaches here, which cast shadows as the sun sets. Depending on the location, I may schedule a photo shoot a little earlier (3:30) to allow for ample light and time.
3. Location, location
I have explored many locations on the island and continue to search out the BEST photo session spots. I try to avoid locations with houses and buildings in the background and will always suggest an area that offers the most variety. If one area does not work on a particular day, be prepared to QUICKLY move the whole shoot somewhere else.
4. Clouds and haze
During the summer months, Puerto Rico experiences a haze from winds coming off the African continent. Your photos will still look great! Clouds are also not a problem. They can often result in even better photos and it’s easier on your eyes.
So many times, people spend hours getting their hair (and everyone else’s) perfect for a photo session, and the wind absolutely destroys all their hard work. The beach is windy, salty and wet, so prepare your hair accordingly. If you don’t want it in your eyes, pin it back or put it in a braid. Bring barrettes, bobby pins and ponytail holders. Some of my favorite photos just let that hair fly, so just go with it and don’t stress over perfect hair.
6. The sun
Some people have sensitive eyes and the setting sun is harsh. I will ask you to look in the direction of the sun, so be prepared. If it gets too difficult, I have a few tricks for dealing with it. Otherwise, we just turn a different way.
7. Be open to direction
I am NOT shy about directing my subjects during a shoot and you will hear a lot from me during our session. It’s my job to get to know you (and your family) in a very short amount of time, make everyone comfortable and get the best photos possible. I will be asking you to move, sit up straight, turn around smile, look in different directions and possibly much more if we get creative.
8. What to wear
This is one of the most important aspects of a photo session, especially for families. Dress comfortably. Dress for the beach (expect sand and you may get wet). Avoid bold patterns. Stick to just a few colors and make them light ones. It’s ok to mix and match, just be consistent. Avoid very tight clothing if possible.
9. Kiddos and babies
Prepare your little ones for the photo shoot in a fun way. Possibly offer an incentive for afterward (ice cream is a good one). Make sure they are well fed, rested and don’t have to go to the bathroom. Try to avoid yelling and fighting so they don’t cry and end up with puffy, red eyes. That said, kids are always a challenge and I understand that. We usually all have a lot of FUN during a shoot and the kids end up playing in the waves and there are lots of smiles.
10. RELAX and have fun
The best photos happen when you are just having fun. Of course, we will get the standard family photo, but once we do, it’s time to let loose, relax and just experience being you on the beach. Parents often have the hardest time with this, because they are trying to manage kids and the stress shows. Be creative, relax and try to just engage with your kids. I’ll make sure we get the photos!
11. Beauty prep list (some simple beauty tips to get the most out of your shoot):
- Wear moisturizer if you have dry skin (and don’t forget arms and legs).
- Freshen your nail polish
- Glasses – it’s your choice to wear them or not, but they can create a distracting glare
- Wear Visine if your eyes are sensitive to avoid red eyes
- Bring along a lipstick to refresh during your shoot, but AVOID lipgloss because your hair will stick to it
- Don’t cake on a lot of makeup, even if you have blemishes. I can fix just about anything in post-production. Subtle makeup is best. Go for a natural, sun-kissed look
- Men, please don’t rake a razor across your face before your shoot. Take your time and moisturize to avoid red bumps.
12. Quick list of things to bring:
- Hair accessories for the wind
- Towels for sand and water
- Lipstick/powder for makeup touchups
- Props if desired
- Visine if your eyes are red/sensitive
- An easy change of clothes if you desire another look
I hope this helps in preparing for your next beach photo shoot! For ideas and inspiration, be sure to check out my Pinterest board, which has a great collection of examples, tips and gorgeous beach photos.