6 Tips for Beach Photos in San Luis Obispo



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Avila Beach, Family Photography, Morro Bay, Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo Photography

Do you live in San Luis Obispo? Are you planning to travel here? Are you thinking about a family beach photo session? Beach photos are popular along the Central Coast of California. Some of the most popular beaches in San Luis Obispo include Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Cayucos, Cambria, and Shell Beach. If you live near or are vacationing in one of these areas, consider hiring a local photographer to capture your family at one of these beautiful beaches. In the meantime, here are 6 tips to prepare for your beach photos in San Luis Obispo!

1. What to wear

When trying to figure out what to wear for your beach session, start by considering the colors you will choose to wear. My advise is to pick colors that match the atmosphere. Colors that are soft and warm really compliment beach sessions. Grey, tan, and pastels are the perfect colors to mix and match with your family and that look good at the beach. If coordinating outfits with your family seems like too much, consider wearing all white. You can’t go wrong!!! White also compliments other colors. You could wear white with light blue. Another option is to wear white with grey or tan colors. Whatever you choose wear something comfy that allows you to move around.

2. Best Time to do a Beach Photo Session

The best time for a beach session is at sunrise and sunset. The sun can be really harsh at the beach during the day. The time of day can have an impact on the outcome of your photos. Shooting between the hours of 10-3 pm at the beach is not recommended. The harsh light can result in people squinting. It can also cause deep shadows on your face specifically in the under-eye area. The best time for pictures at the beach is when the sun is low, either sunrise or sunset. Not only will you get a beautiful background as the sun rises or set, but that type of light will complement your skin.

3. Shoes or no Shoes?

People often ask if they should wear shoes at the beach. Some people prefer to wear shoes, while others don’t mind getting wet and taking their shoes off. My rule of thumb is this: Either the whole family wears shoes or the whole family goes barefoot. It honestly looks a bit awkward if some family members have shoes while others do not. If you want my honest opinion, I think it’s best if you don’t wear shoes at all.

4. Weather

The weather can be tricky at the beach. On the Central Coast of California, you can expect a few factors to contribute to a beach session.

Wind – The wind can sometimes be a problem at the beach. I make sure to check the wind a few days before a session to make sure it’s bearable. You really don’t want crazy hair in every single photo and sand blowing in your face. Although a little wind is fine, 25 mph gusty winds can definitely ruin a session.

Marine layer – I moved to San Luis Obispo in 2017. I knew nothing about the marine layer until I moved here. The Marine layer looks like a thick cloud. Why does this matter to us photographers? When the marine layer starts rolling in, it darkens the sky and makes it look later than it actually is. Think of an overcast sky or a cloudy sky before a storm. This is something else to keep an eye out during a beach session because it might require us to move the session up to avoid the dark sky.

Rain – It rarely ever rains in San Luis Obispo. When it does rain, it usually doesn’t last too long. If you’re lucky you will have your photo session scheduled right after a storm. If that’s the case, you will get the most beautiful sunset and the sky will be gorgeous.

Overcast – An overcast sky is not too bad. An overcast sky provides a nice way to filter the strong sun. I love overcast days. The sky looks very dramatic and beautiful.

5. What to bring

Here is a list of things you should bring to your beach photo session:

  • Towels
  • Extra clothes
  • Shoes
  • Sweater
  • Water
  • If you have kids, make sure to pack all of the above plus wipes, treats or snacks, toys, etc
  • Some families choose to stay at the beach after their photo sessions. Bring a picnic basket, some snacks and enjoy the sunset after your session!!

6. What to expect from your photos?

Ok…So you’re done with your session and you’re excited to see your photos. What can you expect?

Make sure to discuss with your photographer what he or she will edit or retouch for you. Photographers will typically edit or retouch photos to make you and your family look your best. As photographers, we try to avoid over-editing or photoshopping your pictures too much which results in very unnatural photos. Make sure to talk to your photographer about what you can expect.

For example, if it’s windy and your hair is blowing in the wind, your photographer might not photoshop your hair to make it look perfectly coiffed. This takes a very long time and is typically not included as basic editing. Another example that typically comes up involves slimming someone down. We might touch up a photo here and there to make you look your best, but we cannot completely change your appearance. With that said, if that is something you want, make sure to talk to your photographer. Some photographers will agree to photoshop as much as you want for an additional price.

If These Tips for Beach Photos in San Luis Obispo Have Helped, Let’s Book a Session Together!

I can’t wait to see you at the beach!!! After reading through these tips for beach photos in San Luis Obispo, book your session here with Rosa Clark Photography!


  1. Robyn Scherer says:

    Love the tips! These are gorgeous!

  2. Robyn Scherer says:

    Love the tips! These are gorgeous! I love the reflections.

  3. These are so beautiful Rosa!! You captured so many sweet moments of this family and what a lovely location! Great tips for beach sessions too!!

  4. Fiona Saxton says:

    What brilliant tips and beautiful photos

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