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Family Photos on Vacation in Tampa Bay

A family vacation is the perfect time to update your family photos! You are relaxed, you are warm, and you are together! What more do you need?! Since your vaca is a short time with likely lots packed in, it’s important to make the most of your session and be completely prepared. Here is your guide to family photos while on vacation!

1. Schedule Photos EARLY in your vacation.

Rain date

This doesn’t seem like it would be a big deal, but it’s very important! What if it rains and your photos are scheduled on the last day of vaca? All the hard work of coordinating outfits and planning details is for nothing! And the dream of seeing photos up on your walls of your sunkissed family with toes in the sand….that dream is dead lol.

Scheduling early gives you wiggle room if the weather cramps your plans. Typically we have a back up day penciled in just in case.

Don’t feel the burn.

I can’t tell you how many vacationing families show up to their session burnt to a crisp! People don’t realize how brutal the Florida sun is – no one thinks sunburn will happen to them, but it can.

Cloudy days still need sunscreen. Being out all day needs reapplication. Putting on sunscreen and then jumping in the water washes some of it off. Us natives wear hats and long sleeve rash guards and avoid the peak hours (10-4). We hit the beach early in the morning or late in the day cause being sunburned is the worst! You guys beach it up how you want, but it’s harder than you think to edit these things out, so let me get you in front of my camera before you have peeling shoulders and permanent sunglasses.

2. Choosing outfits

Coordinate, don’t Match

Wearing all black shirts and jeans might seem like an easy solution to make your family look cohesive, but it looks forced. We don’t want your photos to feel like a stiff, posed session. We want it to feel like we caught you in your element as a family. After booking, I’ll send a detailed style guide to go more in depth.

What to Avoid

Steer clear of busy patterns, loud colors, words or logos. Really tiny plaid patterns can photograph weirdly and shiny materials (especially in white) can glare. Soft textures, like cotton and linen, complement the beach vibes. Flowy dresses add movement and photograph beautifully. Pastels and neutrals never disappoint.

3. Relax

What?! How is this a tip? Trust me it’s worth saying! Tension can be high as you are trying to get your family out of the door on time, looking their best, and you can’t find where you packed everything. Then when you get there, the kids just want to explore and they won’t sit still for pictures. If you aren’t careful, the shoot can unravel from here.

Photoshoots are NOT the time for discipline. (Don’t tell the kids this, but they basically get a free pass here). If you are stern with them and they cry, we’ll have tears, red noses, and snot to contend with. And we’ll be tampering with the memories of your family having a wonderful time at the beach together.

Let them explore. If they eat sand, they eat sand. If more of the pictures are candids than posed – it’s all good. Trust me on this one.

4. Choosing Time.

Best time of day.

Have you heard of Golden Hour? It’s the beaches time to shine. We will start about an hour or hour and a half before the sunsets. At first, we’ll hide behind plants or tall grass, then we’ll venture towards the water when the sun gets a little lower and softer. Hitting the sand too early will result in squinting and blown out photos. Timing it just right gives that glowy, dreamy light.

Salty Sunrise Session

People forget that Golden Hour happens twice a day! Let me convince you why a Sunrise session might be the way to go.

  1. Beat the Crowds
    This can be a real problem in peak seasons, like spring break. It’s hard to pose for photos in front of people and it’s hard to find a spot without people in the background when the beach is packed. With sunrise, you’ll have the whole place to yourself.
  2. Beat the Heat
    I have literally had to call sessions short because Dad’s shirt is drenched in sweat and Mom has glistening beads coming through her makeup. Sunrise would never do this to you.
  3. Avoid the Afternoon Showers
    Spring tends to be more rainy than most, but any season can surprise you with afternoon showers. We can shoot in clouds, but Tampa is the lightning capitol of the US and we will not shoot in dangerous conditions. These nasty storms tend to blow through in the afternoon, so sunrise avoids this.
  4. Never run out of light
    With sunset, if we start to early, we run the risk of kids being fed up with pictures by the time the dreamy light comes. If we try to keep the session short to match attention spans, we could miss golden hour. When the sun sets, the shoot is done! Whether you were late or your kid needs extra time, the light is gone. With sunrise, you still get that sliver of golden light, and then you can shoot as long as you need after that.
boy hanging upside down

Early birds only.

You late nighters can’t hang. It’s hard to look good at the butt crack of dawn. But for any morning people who feel like you could pull it off, hopefully I convinced you! The other perk of a sunrise session is that my calendar fills up quickly in the afternoons. So if we are struggling to book the right dates during your slim availability, sunrise solves that problem. Here’s some more sunrise sessions to convince you here and here.

Best Beaches for Photos

and more

Read more on the blog for some local scoop on the best beaches and kid activities in Tampa Bay!

Best Beaches in Tampa Bay for photos?

From Clearwater Beach all the way to Tarpon Springs – we are overflowing with beautiful beaches in Tampa Bay! This one deserved it’s own blog post!

girl holding ice cream

Looking for other things to do with your kids?

I put together a great resource for vacationing families with young kids! It tells you all my favorite activities and restaurants (well known and hidden gems) and I break it down by area.

Where to next?