Couple Sessions, Engagements

What to Know Before You Plan an Engagement Shoot at the Beach

I know I can’t truly be biased, but, as a Florida-based photographer, there’s just something so captivating about shooting an engagement session on the beach. Having grown up on the east coast, I remember being so awestruck by those early morning sunrises against the Atlantic – the calmness of the waves and the ever-changing colors on the horizon before the day begins. Now that I’m living near Tampa’s Gulf Coast, those same, golden hour moments occur during sunset, which actually plays to the couple’s advantage. Instead of waking up at 4 or 5 a.m. to prepare for the shoot, couples are able to arrive at the beach closer to 4 or 5 p.m., depending on the time of year.

While you may be thinking that timing a sunset means arriving at the time your weather app says the sun will set, but if you do that the sun will disappears over the horizon before you know it. For a sunset session I recommend starting an hour before it says the sun will set. For sunrise, I recommend starting about 10 minutes before it says the sun will rise and then shoot during the hour after sunrise. Not only will everyone feel less rushed this way, but the colors that the sun infuses on the water and on the couple before it has set leaves timeless, golden moments and stunning images that are often hard to put into words. 

Before we finalize the timing of a shoot, there are several other factors that couples should consider as they’re planning their beach engagement shoot. From attire, to props, to location, to the surroundings, each beach shoot has its own personality, and I’m here to make the planning process as seamless as possible. 

What to Wear (And What Not to Wear!)

Simplicity and comfort are key when you’re planning a beach engagement shoot. While you may have a favorite graphic tee you want to sport or a sparkly dress you want to show off, beach shoots are best when they’re drawing on the scenes around you. Stick to clothing that you’ll be able to move freely in – the best shots sometimes come from those playful moments you didn’t even think I saw!

Shoes are better left in the car, too. Trust me, barefoot beachy scenes are perfectly playful and no one will be staring at your feet, I promise! As the bride, you can select a few outfits, but be sure to think through the logistics of changing as well as the sand while you’re gathering your clothes. Some brides prefer a white dress while others opt for a bright and colorful pattern that allows them to stand out from the whites, creams, and blues that are naturally already in the background.

What to Bring (Besides Yourselves!)

While the bride, the groom, and of course the ring are enough, some couples choose to set up a themed shoot at their beach of choice. Whether that’s a fun game of kadima or a classic beach ball to pop around or something like a towel or champagne bottle, we can absolutely get creative with your photos. I love to talk to clients about what they want to do with these photos and go from there. If you want them for your own memories or if you plan to use them on your Save the Dates, we can then decide what makes sense for which occasion.

I also suggest bringing more as opposed to less so you have options and can decide what feels best in the moment. Don’t forget to bring a towel and clothes to change into afterwards as well. Some shoots actually end up in the water (by choice or by chance!) Having those fun, candid moments create images that depict unfiltered personalities and the most cherished of memories.

Where to Go (And Where Not to Go!)

Every beach has its own, unique features. From certain types of sand to secluded seascapes or a bustling shoreline, selecting the picture-perfect beach for your shoot will certainly be something you’ll want to consider. I actually prefer setting up shoots during the week so that there’s less of a chance for people to be roaming in the background of the shots. 

Tip: Some photographers actually increase their fees if they have to photoshop certain unwanted elements out of the images, so be mindful of that when selecting your location, too.

I always suggest a beach that has variety. Variety could mean a beach with soft white sand and an area with tall green grass or a boardwalk.

All that to say, you don’t have to plan out your shoot alone. I’m not just there for you during the shoot. I’m happy to help talk through all of the logistics as well as guide you to decide on a beach location that suits your preferences and your vision. Connect with me via the form on my contact page to start planning out your dream beach engagement shoot. I can’t wait to curate magic together!