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Beach, Family, What to Wear

How to Prepare for your Maternity or Family Beach Session

I have to admit, I’m a sucker for a beautiful maternity or family beach session. The beach is my most requested session location, which I’m 100% happy with because it’s definitely my happy place! It’s also a major perk of living so close to the coast. We really are spoiled here in Charleston with the dreamiest spots for photos!!

5 Ways to Prepare for Your Maternity or Family Beach Session

As a photographer, I always want to set my clients up for the best experience possible. So much of this happens way before our session date. For beach sessions, that means helping with more than just the wardrobe. More than any other location, the beach definitely requires a bit more prep than other locations.

This post answers all of the FAQs I get from clients about beach sessions. I’m hopeful it helps you feel more confident (and excited!) for our beach session together!!

Family of four walking on the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Family of four playing on the beach at sunset | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Baby boy walking near sand dunes | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Little boy smiling with his hands in his pocket | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka

Timing

I’m starting with this first because it’s the one I get the most questions about when planning beach sessions with clients. As a Mom of two, I know how much we value our kids’ regular bedtime routine and schedule. My goal as your photographer though is to make sure you get the very best lighting and session experience- which at the beach means planning your session during “golden hour.” This is the hour right after sunrise or right before sunset.

Timing will also depend on the time of year. In the summer, sunset sessions start around 7:30 PM whereas in the winter they can start as early as 4:30 PM.

I know, I know… that 7:30 PM start time feels scary when your kids are usually in bed at that time. I wish timing could be more flexible at the beach but with no trees for shade, we have to stick to golden hour. I promise it’s worth the late bedtime, just this once!!

Trust me- your kids will do so much better than you expect! The beach is such a fun distraction for kids- they won’t even notice we are taking photos most of the time.

So what’s the BEST time of year for a beach session? I would say September and October! Sunrise sessions are around 7 AM so not too early, and sunset is earlier too. Plus, the dunes are still full with lots of beautiful green tones this time of year!

Brothers sitting on a beach blanket | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Baby boy walking on the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Mom snuggling with her baby boy on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Mom playing with her baby boy on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Mom snuggling with her little boy on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Mom with her two little boys on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka

Late Naps and How to Avoid “Hangry” Kids

Speaking of timing, I always suggest to parents who have a sunset beach session coming up to do their best to put kids down for late naps on session day. Then once they are rested, give them a full meal before the session.

You can also bring snacks to the session. Just keep them limited to snacks that are easy to clean up (or to use for bribes!) like smarties, fruit snacks, puffs or small crackers. No chocolate, please!

Family of four sitting on the beach together | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Dad with his two boys on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Little boy giving his dad a kiss | Image by Caitlyn Motycka

Mindset and Expectations

The best way to have the most enjoyable beach session is to have a good mindset and manage expectations well. The best approach is a go-with-the-flow attitude and allowing things to unfold naturally. For beach sessions we usually start by the dunes and then make our way to the water toward the end.

Your little ones will want to play in the sand and explore, and I really try to encourage that. I also encourage parents to get in there and play with them.

When Mom and Dad are playful too it always results in the most beautiful candid images. Forget that I’m taking photos and just soak in these sweet moments with your kids. Let them be little, let them explore, and watch the tender moments unfold with you by their side. I promise those are the photos you’ll be drawn to because they are so full of love.

Little boy playing with a wooden airplane on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Mom and dad snuggling on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Dad kissing mom on the side of her face | Image by Caitlyn Motycka

Keep the Wind in Mind

Mom and Dad, it’s going to be windy. We can do our best to plan our session and will keep an eye on any rain. But beach sessions will always have more of a breeze than downtown sessions do, even on the calmest days.

For the girls, it’s best to have hair pinned back in the front to avoid any unwanted stray strands blowing into your face. Windblown hair is part of the experience, and I will always do my best to turn you so that the wind works in our favor, but having a half up hairstyle can make such a difference.

When my clients have their hair and makeup done for sessions I always remind them to tell the hairstylist the session is at the beach. That way, they incorporate pretty twists or braids to keep the front pieces from falling in Mama’s face!

Baby in a jumper walking on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Toddler brothers walking on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Details of mom in floral dress holding her baby on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka

Consider Your Wardrobe

Light, flowy fabrics are ideal for beach sessions. They catch the breeze in the most beautiful way and will keep you from feeling trapped or tangled in your clothing.

Bonus Mom tip: One of my favorite tricks for sand is baby powder. Applying a bit to kids hands, legs and feet can easily brush off most of the sand before making your way back to your car. It’s also ideal for getting sand off of baby’s face!

Keep your shoes in mind as well. You’ll want to lean toward something easy to slip on and off before and after getting sandy.

Final note… You may also want to consider bringing an extra quick change of clothes for in the car and a towel. Toward the end of my beach sessions, I love to have families play near the water. I always ask parents if it’s okay to tell the kids to go a few feet into the water, but chances are Mom and Dad will end up in there with them. It’s always such a fun way to end the session!

Family walking together on the beach | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Family walking on the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Dad with baby boy on his shoulders | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Black and white image of baby boy with his head on dads shoulder | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Family searching for seas shells | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Family of four searching for shells | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Family of four snuggling near the ocean | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Mom and dad snuggling near the ocean | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Dad playing with his little boy in the ocean | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Mom standing in the ocean holding her baby boy | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Dad holding his little boy's hand at the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Mom helping her baby boy walk on the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Mom snuggling with her toddler | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Dad snuggling with his little boy | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Dad playing with his baby boy on the beach | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka
Detail of woman's hand on man's arm | Image by Caitlyn Motycka
Black and white image of baby boy with his mom | Preparing for Family Beach Session with Caitlyn Motycka

Caitlyn Motycka is an award-winning Charleston Family, Maternity, and Newborn Photographer based out of Charleston, SC. Service areas include Mount Pleasant, Isle of Palms, James Island, Folly Beach, and surrounding areas.

If you’re interested in starting a photography journey together with your growing family, contact me here! Let’s take some pretty pictures together!

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Newborn, Maternity, and Family Film Photographer in Charleston, SC and surrounding areas

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