When Rylie reached out to me to gift a surprise family portrait session for her mom, I jumped at the opportunity. “It had been years since we last did a family photo – my dad hates having his picture taken,” she said (aversions to having your photo taken is actually a pretty common phenomenon in the world of portrait photography. But here at EmmiClaire Photography, I do everything I can to put my clients at ease and make portraits a fun experience. For tips on boosting your confidence for your portrait session, check out this post).
Planning for a Surprise Family Portrait Session
Coronado Beach: The Perfect Location for a Surprise Family Portrait Session
Right off the bat, Rylie had the amazing idea for the location of their surprise family portrait session. “We planned a vacation in Coronado, and I knew the beach would be a beautiful backdrop!”
Rylie was absolutely right! There’s nothing quite like golden hour along the San Diego coast.
Rylie’s sweet sons, Beckham and Maddox, played in the vegetation where the rugged hills met the beach. The frothing waves kissed the soft sand, the entire family was bathed in soft shades of pink and purple light – the same shades reflected in the shells peppered along the beach.
For more information about choosing the right location or your portrait session, check out this post.
Planning the Wardrobe for a Surprise Family Portrait Session at Coronado Beach in San Diego, CA
I absolutely adored this family’s beautiful wardrobe choices for their surprise family portrait session. Rylie kept it simple. Instead of selecting every family member’s ensemble, Rylie selected a color palette and let each family member choose their own outfits. A cool, classic color palette of ocean blues, frothy whites, and sandy tans paired beautifully with the soft seascape of Coronado Beach in San Diego, CA.
Whenever I have an inquiry for a large family portrait session like this one, I like to recommend taking Riley’s approach to wardrobe selection. Choosing a color palette keeps things cohesive, but not too match-y. And allowing each family member to choose their own outfit within that color palette ensures that everyone has the opportunity to express their own style while also ensuring their comfort and confidence.
Planning Family Pairings in Your Family Portrait Session
While I always try to plan individual shots with specific family pairings for sessions with larger groups, Rylie explained that she really wanted to keep things easy going and relaxed for their surprise family portrait session. We did just that! Rather than posing the family, we definitely focused more on capturing the candid moments.
The Memories We Make
The one thing I like to remind my clients is that family portrait sessions are about so much more than just having pictures taken. For me, family portrait sessions are more about making and preserving memories together.
The way a grandparent gazes at their sweet grandbabies. The way a son looks at his mother, like she’s the most beautiful woman in the whole world. A little boy holding his father’s hand. Newlyweds dancing without music. A husband giving his wife a ride on his back as the wind plays in her hair. As a photographer, I’m in the business of memories, and oh wait a privilege that is!
Favorite Memories from a Surprise Family Portrait Session at Coronado Beach
“I loved seeing my oldest son have so much fun on the beach,” says Rylie.
It truly was magical to see this family interact with each other. They danced and played and tickled and laughed. We dipped our toes in the salty sea and plodded along the beach, watching the waves wash away our footprints on the shore.
The boys were absolutely adorable and so much fun to photograph! One of the things I love about being a family portrait photographer is getting to know everyone. Beckham was a little shy at first, but as soon as we got a little silly, he opened up. Maddox on the other hand, was just a sweet little charmer with a devilish grin.
Why Choose EmmiClaire Photography?
“Emily was incredibly accommodating. Because we have two toddlers prone to meltdowns, she allowed us to do a mini session. It was clear she’d scouted the location – she knew exactly where she wanted the photos taken, which made the session flow well (and the backgrounds turned out amazing!). She also had a special Mickey Mouse puppet that she brought to help my kids smile because she learned that my boys love Mickey. Plus she had special treats for the boys at the end of the session, which was such a cute touch.”