We are now deep into the Orange County summer beach season. Long days and warm nights as well a sweltering heat inland means Orange County beaches are the place to be this summer. But what does that mean for your family portrait or senior portrait session at the beach?

Beach Portrait Sessions: The great news is that the best time of the day for a family beach portrait is either an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. This is often called the golden hour and really is magical for portraits. So for most people, starting your session around 6:30 pm means you can still have a full day of work or play before your session. This is also important because in the summertime, I highly recommend shooting on the beach early in the week. The weekends are crazy and it is tough to find parking, but early in the week things are a little quieter and this is ideal for family portraits.

So, how do you pick the very best beach for your family session?

Family beach portrait

Here is my criteria for selecting the best beaches for your portraits:

Is there a lot of variation in the background?

I love a wide open beach with lots of blue water, but it can be limiting when creating a full portfolio of images of your family. I prefer to have some rocks, plants, old steps, interesting cliffs and other variations in the landscape so all of the images look a little different, but fit nicely into a gorgeous album or wall grouping.

Is the beach deep?

If the beach all but disappears during high tide, it isn’t the ideal location for a family beach session. I like a wide beach with lots of space for your family to play in front of my camera without lots of people in the background.

Baby beach portrait

How crowded is the beach?:

Lots of people on the beach can be distracting when trying to get your family looking picture perfect in front of the camera. Not to mention, you probably don’t want unknown people in the background of your family portraits. I love to shoot at beaches that are less crowded and sometimes that means more difficult to access (such as Tablerock or Montage beach). If I do shoot at a more popular location, I always shoot early in the week to avoid peak tourist hours.

Family beach pics with dog

Does the beach hold meaning for your family?

 If you have a special beach that holds wonderful memories for your family, well that trumps all other considerations. Last year I shot a family on Crescent Beach (one that tends to disappear during high tide) because the Dad remembered coming to that beach as a kid with his Mom and Dad and he wanted to create the same experiences for his kids. His family portraits on that beach meant so much to his entire family because they were a beautiful reminder of their family history. 

For those of you who are brave enough to book an early morning session, this is actually my very favorite time of day to do a beach portrait. Often in the early morning, we are totally alone on the beach, the lighting is gorgeous and you get to start the day having fun with your family.

Here are my five favorite beaches in South Orange County to do a family portrait session: 

Table Rock Beach

South Side of Aliso Creek Beach

San Clemente Pier

Newport Fun Zone and Pier

Picnic Beach and Heisler Park

If you would like to book your portrait session, you can click here to get more information.

Hope you are having an amazing summer.