As a child, I remember perching on my dad’s shoulders in the pool, shivering in anticipation as he counted down and launched me into the deep end. Come to think of it, the only memories I have of my dad playing with us kids involved water – the neighborhood pool, the lake, or rare trips to the ocean.
Water is indelibly linked to my memories of childhood. Maybe that’s why I push my clients to consider getting in the water themselves.
If I’m honest with myself, however, I would be hard pressed to put on a swimsuit for my own family photoshoot. Hypocritical, I know. So I sat down to think about it. Is it really worthwhile to get in the water for a family beach photoshoot?
Top 3 Reasons You Should Jump in the Water for Your Family Beach Photoshoot
3. Don’t fight it, go with the flow
When I was first starting out as a family photographer, I noticed that most kids were drawn to the water. Parents pleaded and bargained with their kids to stay dry. Putting them next to a super fun toy and telling them not to touch it was just not working. The kids were unhappy, and parents were stressed, so I decided to embrace the water.
At first, I encouraged families to splash along the shore. Little toes would tentatively explore the frothy remnants of waves. Emboldened, they would venture further. Faces would light up with each crashing wave and before you knew it, they were all in.
2. The abstract beauty of water
With camera in hand, I would frantically try to capture all the water fun, but I could never get quite close enough. Even as I waded through thigh-high water hoping a rogue wave wouldn’t take both me and my camera down, I wasn’t close enough. I wanted to be in the action with them, not trying to keep my camera dry from afar.
I made the plunge and invested in a water housing for my camera. With my camera snug and dry inside this beast of a contraption, I could be in the action.
The more I played and experimented, the more I fell in love with water itself. The way the light rays penetrate through the surface like buckshot and creates a dappled pattern on the skin. The effects were beautiful and surprising.
I especially fell in love with over-under water portraits. The exact timing the shutter clicks can reveal or hide what lies beneath in a delightfully unexpected way.
1. Pure joy
My beach photoshoots are part directed lifestyle and part documentary. I have to quickly evaluate personalities and push and pull to get what is real from each individual. Some kids are shyer or reserved and although I am able illicit real smiles, I am no match for water.
I have seen water play transform a reserved child whom I could only coax a giggle into one who played in the waves with joy and wild abandon.
If you have a child who loves the water, let them play. Even better, be brave and join them in the water. You can catch waves together, toss them in the air, or have a water fight. You’ll find that water can break down your own walls, so together you can play like kids.
But, but, but … I don’t want to be photographed in a swimsuit. I hear you. I’ll be back with tips on what to wear so you can feel comfortable in the water during your photoshoot.