The best time for your beach photo session

Couples romantic beach portrait photograph on Sand Key, Clearwater Beach in 'magic hour' sunset light

You may have heard of the “magic hour”, that special time right before sunset that photographers love so much. The light at that time is soft and warm and, because it’s not coming from directly overhead, it doesn’t cast harsh unflattering shadows on people. Instead it bathes them from the side in a lovely golden glow.

That magic hour is truly magical on the beach here in St. Pete, with the gorgeous Gulf Coast sunsets behind us. Unfortunately here in Florida we’re also extremely likely to be plagued with afternoon thunderstorms. Now that can be a very good thing – those looming dark clouds make for some gorgeous dramatic skies. But torrential downpours can also put a stop to any photoshoot.

Tim our beachcomber photographer is excellent at finding holes in the clouds to work in, and also at finding little nooks in the local scenery to shoot from when the weather’s not so hot. But did you know there’s another alternative you might not have considered; a way you can get “magic hour” light without afternoon thunderstorms? Because there are actually TWO “magic hours” in every day – just before sunset, and just after sunrise.

Those sunset photoshoot slots are also the most in demand, and thus they fill up quickly. So if you’d like to try avoiding the crowds of tourists on the beach and on the schedule, as well as avoiding potential thunderstorms, why not consider scheduling your photoshoot in the early morning instead of at sunset? You could have something like this as your backdrop…

glorious 'magic hour' St Petersburg sunrise photograph

As seen through the eyes of love

So I’m putting together this gift of portrait prints for some friends of ours. And just because I can I decide to use my mad new Photoshop skills to touch up some of the things I know they fret about. And as I give her a bit more of a waistline, and her a little less tummy..tighten up this one’s upper arms and firm that one’s double chin…it prompts me to think how much I really enjoy doing this.

Since venturing into the photography business one thing I hear constantly from people is how they don’t want pictures taken of themselves because they feel like they look bad. They feel fatter and wrinklier and frumpier than they used to be. And truthfully, I think this is a pile of culturally-prescribed bs – just because you’re fat or old & wrinkly doesn’t mean you aren’t still beautiful, and you deserve to have your memories preserved in photos just like anybody else!  But it also gives me a thrill to be able to pull out some of the tricks that make celebrities in magazines look so impossibly perfect and use them on behalf of regular folks.

When you’re with the people who care about you they aren’t focused on the double chin or jiggly arms you might worry about, they’re seeing all of the wonderfulness that is YOU. And you’re beautiful to them just the way you are.  I like to think of the retouching we do as an expression of that. Our goal is not to make you look like a cookie-cutter stereotype of pretty. Our goal is to make you look as you appear in the eyes of the people who love you: with the so-called “flaws” softened so that nothing but the true beauty of your personality shines through.

~Contact me to schedule your own Beachcomber portrait experience~

in the end it's only love that matters

Three tips for great beach portraits with Grandma

As parents you naturally want photos of your kids growing up…but what about after they’re grown?  You don’t stop loving each other, or making memories together, just because the years have continued to pass.

(The hubs and I’ve been trying for years and no, no matter how much you tickle them they just won’t stop growing. ;p)

Sometimes the fact that everyone has grown up and gone their separate ways is the best reason to capture the moment on those rare occasions when you DO get together. These casual family beach portraits, taken when my sister and her crew were visiting from South Carolina, were the first time my siblings and I had been in any photos together since we were kids. I think you can see from the look on her face how much these multi-generational family photos meant to my mom..

Redington Shores grandparents family photography

If you’ve gone to the trouble of gathering the clan on the beach you want to make sure you come away with some fantastic images, images that show how truly cool and fun your family is as well as the bond of love between you.  The kind of photos that will make you smile every time you look at them.  So here’s a few tips on how to have a great Florida beach photo session with grandparents and grandkids: Continue reading “Three tips for great beach portraits with Grandma”

Hot makeup tips for beach portraits

Hey y’all!  We’ve been so busy lately I haven’t had time to sit down and do a written post in a few weeks.  Hope you’ve been enjoying the pretty pictures instead!  But finally today I have a bit of time to write and I wanted to quickly share with you a couple of my favorite items for beach makeup.

The thing about going to the beach (or really anywhere outdoors in Florida) is you WILL get sweaty.  You’ll get sweaty, and any tendency you may have toward oiliness will be increased, and you might even get water from the ocean or the sky in your face.  All of these are death to normal makeup, amiright ladies?

One approach to this is to keep the makeup to a minimum.  The less you’re wearing the less of a runny mess it can become.  But going completely without makeup isn’t what most of us want either.  Makeup helps define the features, especially the eyes and lips, and make them ‘pop’ in photographs.  Not only do we look better but we FEEL better, more confident in front of the camera, with good makeup.  And I’m happy to have found a few products over the years that I count on to really stand up to the ‘salt life’. Continue reading “Hot makeup tips for beach portraits”

What to wear for your beach photo shoot

For many of us the first question that pops to mind when we’ve decided to have some portraits made is “what am I going to wear?”  I’d love to be there to help you choose (one of the services we provide for our Beachcomber Photography patrons) but I thought at least I could write down a few tips based on our beach portrait photography experience.  🙂

When you’ve chosen to have your portraits made at the beach the most obvious thing to keep in mind is your location – the beach!  So wear clothes that you’re prepared to get sandy and wet in.  This doesn’t necessarily mean casual – you could get some kick-ass images splashing in the surf in a formal dress or business suit – but you definitely shouldn’t show up for your beach portrait sitting in clothes that you’re going to be nervous about.

One rule we’ve had drilled into us since our school-picture days is ‘no prints’ and that’s still a pretty good rule of thumb.  Prints, especially if worn near the face, can distract the eye from everything else in the photo.  On the other hand a single solid color from head to toe wouldn’t be very flattering either.  The trick is to use layers to introduce different colors.  And for beach portraits a Hawaiian print shirt over a solid color t-shirt or a flowered sarong paired with a solid halter top might be just the ticket.

This can work especially well for family groups where you want everyone to coordinate but not be too matchy-matchy.  You could have dad in the surfer dude shit and then dress everyone else in colors pulled from his shirt.  And don’t forget the accessories!  The setting gives you the perfect excuse tons of options for accessories which can add color, style & personality to your portraits: e.g. sunglasses, hats, leis and fun, funky jewelry.  Now IS the time to try that great big flower in your hair! ;D

One thing you should consider avoiding for your beach portraits is a white shirt.  Even on an overcast day there’s a lot of light at the beach; the reflection off a white shirt can be glaring enough to ruin an otherwise lovely image.  To keep the focus where it belongs – on YOU – you’re better off with less-reflective choices.  Soft, “faded” colors and darker hues are more flattering in bright outdoor light.

I hope these tips help you look fantastic in your own beach portraits.  Happy sunsets!

Can you imagine us in white shirts? Our pasty white skin is reflective enough!
My husband & kids illustrating the concept

4 easy steps to otherworldly eyes

I have a big mental list of posts I mean to write but I thought I would start with something fun and share with you a simple technique for juicing up a black & white portrait by giving your subject vividly colored eyes.

Sometimes you take a photo that’s beautiful enough in color but just begs to be black & white, like this shot of Amanda..

 Amanda with palm fronds in downtown St Pete

We could turn this color photo into a B&W in several ways but the way I liked the look of was to completely desaturate it, turning the color saturation down to 0%.

By the way, you should know that the steps I describe here do NOT require Photoshop.  I’m certainly not a Photoshop wizard and the magic I worked on this photo was done in PhotoImpact, a consumer level program I’ve used and liked for years. But there are lots of photo editing applications that have similar features.  The names of the tools & functions may be different from program to program but you should be able to find equivalent options in any half decent image editing software.

Anyway, turning the saturation down to zero gives us this stunning image.. Continue reading “4 easy steps to otherworldly eyes”