Family Photos at the Beach | a Typical Session


In the summer I spend most of my evenings photographing families on the beach in Charleston. From Folly Beach and Isle of Palms to Kiawah and Seabrook Islands to the south, there is no shortage of beautiful beaches for your family photos in Charleston. I wanted to give you an idea of what a typical family beach session is like.

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If a client is staying at a beach house I will typically meet them at the house and we go out onto the beach from there. Same goes for The Sanctuary on Kiawah Island. If they are staying elsewhere we will choose a good meeting spot. Beach sessions are done the hour before sunset unless the client requests a sunrise session.


We almost always start off with a nice posed family portrait near the house or out on the beach.

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From there I generally photograph some smaller groups such as: individual families, grandparents, couples, dad with kids, mom with kids, grandparents with all the grand kids, siblings, family dogs, etc. There is no limit to the number of groupings, so please don’t hesitate to ask!

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Then I usually do more photos with the entire group with a different background. We usually make our way closer and closer to the water. Often we do a walking one too.

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If the client wants them, I will photograph kids individually and siblings together. By this point they are usually pretty warmed up and their personality shows through!  Usually towards the end of the session the kids are kind of dictating what we do and I just go with the flow to get the best shots.

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The best light is towards the end of the session – if we’re lucky we’ll be treated to a pretty pink or orange sky and then my favorite time of day – blue hour!  If the conditions are right I like to take a silhouetted portrait. 

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Once we are sure we have gotten all the groupings the family wants we’ll take some more casual, playful shots – sometimes sitting in the sand or even getting in the water! This is always a fun reward for kids who are getting tired of posing and smiling on cue.

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If you have a boat, I'll happily come along for a session on Morris Island!

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Here are my tips for a successful beach session:


1. Leave your worries behind. Don’t fret too much about that one family member who won’t wear what you want them to or a cranky kid who missed their nap. This is going to be fun – I promise! 


2. Wear clothes you are comfortable in and are OK getting sandy… and possibly wet.


3. Don’t punish kids during a session. This is the time to let your parenting rules fly out the window – we only have a limited amount of time together and if a child starts crying sometimes they can’t come back from it. This is the time to bribe bribe bribe! I suggest the promise of ice cream or getting to play in the water afterwards. I usually have little toys in my bag as a reward/bribe. 🙂


4. Have perspective. This is more than a photo session. This is precious time with your family. When you look at the photos years down the road you will remember that this was a special time with those people you hold dear.

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Once I get home and backup your photos I dig in to editing. If you want a sneak peek I will post something to Instagram and Facebook while I’m editing. Then within a week I deliver your edited photos via a private online gallery. Typically there are 50-70 photos delivered. Clients can download the digital files from the gallery and also order archival-quality prints (4 x 6 to 11 x 14) too.

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Want to see more photos of Folly Beach? Click HERE. Isle of Palms more your jam? Click HERE. I’m also available for sessions on Kiawah and Seabrook Island. Sullivans Island does not allow commercial photography, but there are plenty of other options! I generally book up 2 weeks in advance, so CONTACT ME to schedule your family beach session soon. Please feel free to reach out if you have questions about family photos on the beach. I hope to see you on the beach this summer!



South Carolina Photographer | Sarah Goldman Photography 

Charleston, South Carolina


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