Family Beach Photoshoot : Why You Should Jump in the Water

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

top view of a boy in an intertube playing in the surf
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.

kids running toward the ocean at sunrise during a family beach photoshootboy looking out at the ocean with hands on his headgirl jumping over rocks along the rocky shore of Hawaiiboy surveying the waves in hawaii with a body board toddler holding hands with parents as waves wash over their feet
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.

b&w portrait of a girl in the water half over half underunder water view of fish swimming with mountain view in the background at sharks cove oahumountain ocean landscape taken from the water at sunsetcloseup of girl playing in waves at sunsetmom and kids playing in the water in hawaiiocean and ufo clouds and moon taken from the waterdad holding daughters hand while she floats in an intertubeboy on a sup in kaneohe bay at sunset with water bokehview of the north shore oahu at sunset taken from the watersilhoutte of dad and sons in the ocean at sunset in hawaii
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.

boy on wakiki jetty with arms outstretched in the sunshine viewed from the waterboy blissfully playing in an intertube during a family beach photoshootfeet and sand in hawaiifamily playing in big waves in waimanalo oahugirl laughing at the beach in hawaii with water bokehsiblings chasing each other through the water at paradise cove oahutoddler joyfully plaing in the ocean taken from the water

You can see some of my favorite water sessions here and here. Oh, and maybe just one more here.

But, but, but … I don’t want to be photographed in a swimsuit. I hear you. This post covers tips on what to wear so you can feel comfortable in the water during your photoshoot.

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