Posted by: Michelle Stella Riordan | June 6, 2011

Summertime and the living is easy…

Summertime and the living is easy…


And,the beach photography is great.  So, while many of  you are packing up the kids and leaving your worries behind, many of us are still working sometimes 7 days a week.  The business of the beach photographer has changed greatly in the past 15 years.  There are some summer evenings when you’ll find 10 other photogs on the beach.  Many of us are seasoned pros.  Many are weekend warriors and newbies.  They’re the ones who don’t seem to consult with their clients about their clothing choices and about the session.  So, with that said, here are a few pointers when searching for a professional photographer or if you decide to take the digital camera matters into you’re own hands.

To rise with the sun or to dance with the sunset? 

We choose those times and hours carefully for the best light.  It’s nicer if you’re not squinting, don’t you think?  Not many families choose a sunrise session because it’s too early for coherent speech without a pot of coffee much less some crazy photog in your face.  But, I offer it for those brave souls and the sessions are always well worth the time.  Plus, there are fewer people on the beach to deal with. 


South Jersey beach photographer

Sunrise beach session: Ocean City, New Jersey

Clothing choices:

It’s not about the clothes.  It’s about the fact that you and your family are together.  I recommend staying away from white shirts and jeans.  EVERYONE has done that.  Plus for you fair-skinned people out there, white only enhances your freckles and sunburned skin.  Think about what colors you look good in…what your kids look good in.  Stay away from stripes, polka dots and fad items.  Keep it timeless.  And ladies…no short tight skirts that make it difficult to sit on the sand.  Men…you will be barefoot.  Deal with it and try not to get sandal sunburn lines on your feet.  We will make fun of you!  But in a nice way. 

South Jersey Beach Photographer, Ocean City, NJ beach photographer

Sunset beach session:  Ocean City, New Jersey


Dealing with kids 5 and under is a challenge for us.  They’re not ours and we can’t threaten them with time out.  (My favorite with my son)  Give the little guys a nap though.  If you don’t, they will either be really, really, really cranky or asleep on the ride to the beach.  We teach them to stay away from strangers yet we want them to smile for this stranger with a camera and a squeaky crab.  I love my squeaky crab.  Please talk to them about going to the beach for photos but do not bribe them nor threaten them.  Kids feel your stress and reflect it.  This should be a fun amazing experience.  That’s my theory behind this


No other word strikes fear in the heart of many adults.  They can be more difficult than the three-year old.  I can bribe a three-year old with pretzels.  I try to chat with the teenagers about what they would like to do.  I give them an opportunity to have their 15 minutes of fame in front of the lens. 

The 20-something know it all…

They have places to be…dates…and would rather be on Facebook than with their family.  I tell them there’s a beer in their future if they just get through this and that they’ll have great stories to tell their friends.   I actually let them be themselves.  They will usually ask me to photograph something off the wall…like jumping off the rocks. 


sunset beach session

Goofing off photos are the best.


I also recommend giving them a nap!  They will be less feisty  for me.  Older men love to give me a hard time.  It must be a right of passage or revenge for being made to go to the beach with 19 screaming grandkids! 

South Jersey beach photographer

Sunset Beach Photography Session:  Ocean City, New Jersey

There’s so much more to the session.  I double-check the weather.  If it looks as if a storm is coming in, I ask my clients if they would like to schedule the session earlier or move it to another day.  While I’d like to think I am the Queen, I cannot control the elements.  I keep a schedule of sunrise & sunset as well as high & low tides to make sure I have all the elements I need for a great session.  Last, but far from being least, I ask the parents of small children if I may give them pretzels as a reward for hanging in there with me plus I ask if there’s a special song or cartoon character that may make a kid smile.  I am partial to singing ‘Happy Birthday’. 

I draw the line at dancing though!

What is your greatest summer beach memory?



Michelle ‘Toes in the Sand’ Riordan

Photography By Exposure

Special Events Photographer

Corporate, Aerials, Portfolios & Family Photography

Studio and Location:  New Jersey to Virginia

Family Beach Portrait Sessions

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South Jersey Beach Photographer




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