FAQ's for Beach Photography Sessions

BTS - Behind The Scenes of the banner image

Here are answers to the most commonly asked questions I get asked on an almost daily basis.

What is the Difference Between a Sunset vs Morning/Day Session? Will we still get bright, sunny photos with a sunset session?
Essentially, there are two basic kinds of "looks" you can choose between: sunset/sunrise and morning/day. The difference is in the quality and angle of light. Morning/Day sessions are bright, sunny and cheerful. Sunset/Sunrise sessions are warm, soft and romantic due to the sun being low in the sky. Neither "look" is better, just different. Since sunset sessions begin an hour and 15 min before sunset (and go to 15 min after), you still get plenty of bright & sunny photos too, they are simply softer & warmer than that of a day session. Below are four examples showing the difference in light between morning/day sessions and evening /sunset sessions: 

Evening/Sunset session

Morning/Day Session

Morning/Day Session

Evening/Sunset Session

Why Do Sunset/Sunrise Sessions Cost More? 
Two reasons: 1. the color and intensity of sunlight changes very little during a day session as opposed to a sunset session where the light changes dramatically from start to end. This makes sunset sessions twice as much work to edit. 2. There are only seven (7) sunset sessions available per week.

What Do We Bring?
You will want to bring as little as possible for beach photo sessions. During the session we will move from spot to spot, sometimes quickly, so we want to be as mobile as possible. Sometimes you will be standing ankle deep in water, sometimes you'll need to stand on a rock wall for that cool sunset silhouette shot. All you really need with you is sunglasses and sandals/flops. Try to leave purses in your hotel (not your car) and if you need to bring a bag, please just bring one bag only. Do make sure to have a change of clothes in your car in case you get wet during your session.

Too busy - but the white sweaters help provide some separation

What to Wear
First rule of thumb - anything that makes you feel comfortable and confident. That said, we also recommend choosing colors that complement your skin. Bright, vivid, solid colors work really well for Hawaii beach and sunset photography sessions, while black almost never looks good unless it's a formal portrait like an anniversary or engagement session. White only works well if you have tanned or warm-toned skin, and seldom looks good if you're pale unless it's paired with colorful accessories like leis, flower bouquets, ribbons, etc. Think contrast - white with tanned skin, darker colors with pale skin. Try to stay away from stripes, logos or fad clothing... you want images that are timeless and still look good 10 to 20 years from now. Hawaii-themed shirts and clothes look good if they're not too loud or busy. Look through the images on this site and note which styles and colors you like the best. 

 Too little separation between people & ocean - no "pop" to this image

Too little separation between people & ocean - no "pop" to this image

 Complimentary colors help make this family photo"pop"

Complimentary colors help make this family photo"pop"

Do We Wear Shoes?
For beach portrait sessions, don't bother with shoes. Wear sandals or slippers (flip flops). You'll be barefoot in the sand with waves tickling your toes for 90% of your session. This is Hawaii after all!

Pants or shorts?
Men/boys should wear shorts and women/girls always look best in sundresses or shorts. Wear long pants only if they can be rolled up a little or they just end up getting wet at the bottoms.

Sunset surprise proposal at Secret Beach, Ko Olina

Do We Bring A Change Of Clothes?
Yes - and no. We recommend having a change of clothes available for after the shoot. For you more adventurous folks, it's always fun to get classic shots of you playing in the water or waves hitting your legs. But don't worry, we won't have you get wet until near the end of the session after we've gotten lots of photos.

You are always welcome to change outfits during a session but be aware that session time is limited and you'll need to be able to change in public on location. If you really want to change it up, the easiest way is to keep it simple by just changing shirts or accessories. 

 Click map to see Location Ideas

Click map to see Location Ideas

Where do we go for the photo session?
Locations can be just about anywhere, depending on your needs and wishes. There are three great locations close to Waikiki for those who don't want to go far, and many off the beaten path locations for folks who have transportation and want to explore. If you're a family with young kids, we go to family safe locations. If you're an active young couple who wants proposal photos with a great view, we go hiking up a steep trail for epic views. Click here to see Location options.

Engagement session on a slightly rainy evening

The weather report says there's a chance of rain!
We get worried calls like this often...because the weather report for Oahu always indicates a chance of rain. It rains nearly every day in the mountains of the interior and yet very seldom rains in Waikiki and the beaches of the island. Even when it does rain, two hours later it can be back to fluffy white clouds and sunshine. Unless there is a major storm system, weather here tends to be very localized. With so many beautiful locations and beaches to pick from, we can just drive to another location 15 min away and be back in sunshine. On the very rare occasion that it truly is a bad day, we'll happily reschedule if at all possible.

Our philosophy is very simple: We want beautiful images of you just as much as you do. Be flexible, be open. Some of the best images we've taken were right after it briefly rained and the sun peaked out between the clouds. Weather is good - it adds drama and passion to photos. And don't forget rainbows!

Honeymoon Session at Lanikai Beach at sunrise

But I'm Not Photogenic..."
That's okay - neither are we! When we are on "the other side of the camera" we feel awkward, shy and uncomfortable too. So we totally understand. Most people feel the exact same way you do. So we've learned tips and tricks to help our clients relax and even come to enjoy being in front of the camera. You don't have to know what to do, how to pose or what to do with your hands... and it's totally okay if you feel shy. Posing ideas and making you look good is our job. If you're willing to just play with us, try different things, we promise you'll soon actually start having fun. And, as we remind clients before every session, this is digital photography... if we try something and it doesn't look good, we just push the delete button and try again! (Check out our "I'm Not Photogenic" blog article!)

How Many Photos Do You Take During A Session? 
First, we use the highest quality professional camera, a Canon 5d Mark IV. We can print posters from the high resolution images. Generally, we tend to take well over 100 - 150 images per session hour.

How many images we take depends on you. A couples session almost always means more images are taken simply because there are only two people to pose or work with. Some families can be very focused and we easily end up with 350 images out of a 90 min session. Other families can be totally chaotic and we barely end up with 100. While we can't promise an exact number, for 90 minute sessions we have almost never had less than 100 edited images, usually much closer to 200. It depends largely on how much direction the clients need, the location, the conditions, etc. Our philosophy is to get clients as many quality shots as possible, with as much variety as possible.

Sunset family portrait at Kawela Beach Park on Oahu's North Shore

Play time at the beach - Waikiki Family Vacation Photos

Family Portrait at Magic Island, evening session on an overcast day

Why do you need to "edit" photos - can't you just shoot and deliver the jpeg right out of the camera?
Well, as a matter of fact, I could do just that... and many cheaper photographers offer that exact service. However, they can never come close to matching the quality of the images you see on this website as that requires extensive hand editing.

Two images blended in Photoshop. Left side is the RAW image that was edited, right side is the straight-out-of-camera jpeg image. Click to enlarge.

Most people know that when you take a photo with your camera or cell phone, you immediately have a "jpeg" photo. What happens is that after you take a photo, the camera applies the manufacturer's pre-determined amount of contrast, color, white balance, clarity, etc, based on average conditions. This is partly why you will often get inconsistent results. 

Professional photographers shoot in "RAW" format. Simply put, we set our camera so it only captures the raw data (no processing applied). The photographer then uses software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop to hand edit the data images, applying contrast, color, white balance, etc, to his or her taste before finally saving the edits as a photo jpeg. Unprocessed RAW files give us enormous freedom to edit an image anyway we like - ex: full vibrant color or black & white.  

Above are two images taken 10 seconds apart, with the exact same settings...but processed radically differently to get two different looks. You can only do this with a RAW file.

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