As a Best of the North Shore winner and The Knot’s Best of Weddings pick, Rachael Kloss of Dragonfly Photography has shot her share of beachy wedding day shoots. But with every gorgeous sunset and perfect backdrop comes issues like squinting, windy conditions, and frustrating shadows.
Since time and tide wait for no bride, we asked this photographer extraordinaire a few tips on how she keeps her beach weddings camera-ready.
When choosing your beach location, it’s important for your photographer to check which way the sun sets on the beach, what time sunset is on your wedding day, and the tide charts—it’s tough to pose your wedding party when there’s no sand for them to stand on. “I love shooting on a west-facing beach, so you have the sunset as a backdrop,” she says. “Each beach is different—some the sun sets off the beach early, some late. It all depends on the unique location.” She stresses how important it is to be sure your photographer is good at shooting with the sun as a background. That blazing ball in the sky can be challenging when trying to get the perfect shots.
“The beach is always windy—always,” Kloss warns. But no worries. She suggests finding a beach that’s in a cove or not directly on the ocean, so you’ll have some cover from the constant breeze. You can also embrace the elements. “Decorating with flags is cool because the wind can carry them in all directions and really add to the aesthetics of your wedding.” And don’t forget to grab a few great veil shots, where the wind carries it up up and away.
Time of Day
Kloss considers the hour before sunset the golden hour. “A little before that is a great time for a ceremony, and then you can have a sunset photo session,” she explains. Keep in mind that, depending on the season, that could be a really late ceremony. And if you’re using a public beach, she says, the later the better—a later shoot will help ensure that you have the beach to yourself instead of random passers-by in their bathing suits in the background. You might also want to think about a contingency plan: “If you want beautiful wedding photos on the beach at the perfect time and it’s not going to fit in your wedding day plan, you can always do a post-wedding photo shoot,” she says. “You will be more relaxed, and you get to wear your dress again!”
Always Have Options
When choosing a beach, Kloss suggests making the most out of your photos by selecting one with different background options close together. “This way you don’t spend all the time walking from one location to the next,” she says. A few of her favorites that make great shots: a dock, a rock jetty, a gazebo, beach grass, a lighthouse, a marina. “Some couples scope out the place and get permission from private estates to use their property for photos,” she says.
Don’t want to squint in your photos? “I recommend sunglasses or putting the sun behind you,” Kloss says. “I also put my couples in action, kissing, walking, dancing, looking at each other. This works better than looking at the camera and squinting. It also puts you more in the moment because you just got married!”
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