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Large family group portrait on the beach



your memories preserved


How often do you get your family together all in one place?  And how often is it a beautiful, scenic place you associate with special family memories?  During your beach vacation, you have a great opportunity to take the ultimate family picture!  Everyone is together, in a good mood, and distraction free.  This is the perfect time to document this rare event and these people you love so much.  Don’t let the opportunity get spoiled by an inexperienced photographer.  

My associates and I are professionally trained to

  • make you look great through use of proper equipment, lighting, and posing techniques
  • work with children (and adults) to get authentic smiles
  • understand the Crystal Coast weather patterns and help you time your session for the best possible results
  • work efficiently with large family groups to get you multiple groupings
  • use editing techniques to remove double chins, wrinkles, bruises, people in the background or anything else that may bother you

The beach is a tricky place to take pictures, with surprises that shock even professional photographers who’ve never photographed here before. We’ll help you go home with gorgeous, flattering, relationship-focused pictures that will fill you with joy for years to come.

Family Beach Pictures in Emerald Isle by professional photographer Ellen LeRoy

Scroll through the GALLERY



For pricing details and availability, please send a message via the button below. Portrait sessions for small groups begin at $499 and include the full set of printable image files.

Frequently Asked Questions

First, we try to move the session time to a time during your day that it’s not raining.  You can also choose to do your session indoors. If that doesn’t work and you and your photographer have another mutual date available, we will reschedule you for another date.  If your photographer isn’t available on another date but you are, we will try to find you another similar photographer.  If none of these options work, then we will refund all money paid, including your deposit.

For the majority of our sessions, we come to your rental house.  It is easier for us to come to you than for you to gather your group and meet us somewhere.  We are blessed to have beautiful beaches all along the island.  In addition, the beach near your house will likely be far less crowded than using one of the public accesses. If you don’t like the setting near your vacation location, we can advise you of other options.

Most sessions last about 45-60 minutes.  It’s usually dictated by the time that the light is flattering.  We start as soon as the light is soft enough and keep going until the light runs out or your family attention span runs out (mainly children but sometimes adults).  If you would like your session to be longer than an hour (common with senior portraits or engagement sessions where there are multiple locations or outfit changes), then your rate will be the standard rate multiplied by the number of hours or partial hours of your session.  Let Ellen know if this option interests you and she will quote your exact rate.

After your session, we will go through your pictures and adjust each one for global edits such as exposure, contrast, saturation, cropping, leveling the horizon of the ocean, color balance for flattering and accurate skin tones, shadow detail, and highlight detail.  

We then create an online gallery where you can view the images.  Within three weeks of your session date, you will receive an email with a link to this gallery that you can forward to other members of your family.

We will create a personal online cloud storage gallery for you, which you can easily share.  This special gallery has these great features:

  • Anyone with your private link can download the image files straight from the gallery to their computer.
  • You can order professional grade prints from a professional lab at discounted pricing.
  • You can easily share images straight to social media.

You can see a sample gallery at this link: sample gallery

This is our preferred method for delivery and safer than sending out a CD or thumb drive, which could get lost.  It is also easier to share and allows gallery visitors to download and order their own products so one person isn’t managing everyone’s orders.

Flexibility with the time of your session will allow us to work with the weather to get the most ideal conditions for beach portraits.   

On a clear day, we prefer to take pictures just before and during sunset to get the most beautiful lighting possible.  In the summer, sunset is close to 8:15pm, but changes depending on the specific date (email me for the sunset time on your date) If we try to do your session while the light is still harsh, it causes squinting, racoon eyes, and brings out skin flaws…none of which make good portraits.  We specifically only schedule one session per day so that you will get the best possible lighting for your date.  On the day of your session, your photographer will be in close contact with you and will work with you to set a specific time to meet depending on the cloud conditions.  The cloudier the day is, the earlier the “ideal light” will come.

We suggest that you keep all participants near the rental for the afternoon of your portrait session.  We typically have thunderstorms building up around us in the afternoons (especially in the summer).  We will be keeping an eye on the radar, and if we feel we need to move the session earlier to avoid rain, we will contact you as soon as possible to let you know. 

It’s a common concern in beach pictures that the best lighting is at sunset.  Many small children have bedtimes that are before sunset, which can be as late as 8:25 in the summer in our area.

Here’s our best advice.  The biggest factor in getting you quality pictures is the softness of the light.  If adults are having to squint, you can be sure that babies and toddlers will have their eyes practically closed.  We can ask adults to open their eyes on the count of three, but this doesn’t work with children.  The light doesn’t soften naturally until about 30 minutes before sunset.  So, here are your options:

  • Have the session at sunrise instead.  This may seem like a great plan, but sunrise in the summer is as early as 5:55am.  This means everyone needs to be up, alert, and ready 15 minutes before sunrise to get the best quality of light.  Unless your children wake up before sunrise normally, they will likely be just as cranky having to wake up that early than having to stay up late, and now the rest of your group is likely to be cranky as well.  We rarely see a sunrise session that is as good as a sunset session.
  • Have the session earlier in the afternoon.  If this is your only option, then your photographer may choose to take some safe pictures on the porch by the house where it is shaded before going out into the bright light.  Once out on the beach, if  we turn you away from the sun, you won’t squint as much, but your face will be in shadow.  To expose your face correctly, we have to underexpose the background, which means the ocean and beach behind you will show up almost white in the pictures.  Most people are getting their pictures made at the beach because of the background, so this is not a great option either.  If we turn you towards the sun to get the best shots of the ocean, then you will likely be squinting and there will be harsh shadows, which are generally unflattering and bring out skin flaws.  With this option, you must be willing to accept these things.  There is a chance of cloud cover, which could help mitigate these problems.
  • Have the session at the best time for lighting (near sunset) and plan to help the child adjust.  Slowly alter the child’s naptime/bedtime to be later over the course of the week preceding the session.  You’ll be on vacation, so schedules are usually more flexible.  This isn’t a permanent situation, and you can go right back to your normal schedule when you are done.  If you are choosing this route, then scheduling later in the week may be a good idea.

In the end, there is no ideal solution, and this is a personal decision for you based on what is most important for your family.  Your photographer will adjust accordingly and do the best with whatever you decide. 

What you wear for your session is the single most important consideration that impacts the overall look and feel of your images, second only to your choice of photographer.  Depending on your personal style, you may wish to create something truly unique, investing in some trendy, cutting edge clothing for your family for a fashion layout look from a magazine.

Whether you dress up, dress down, or get totally funky, it is important that every family member finds their style. Does your daughter prefer pants instead of dresses? Does your son like to wear button down shirts over an untucked T-shirt?

Appearing in the same image doesn’t mean you have to wear the same outfits. While we’ve all seen the images of families together on a beach in a white shirt and khakis (and those images have their place), it is also important to showcase your individual styles and personalities through the clothing you select.

Try coordinating without overly matching. For example, if your daughter decides on a dress in gingham blue and white, your son may choose a solid blue shirt that picks up the blue from her clothes. You could then opt for a different shade of blue (or a complementary shade) for your husband. Matching one another in terms of formality and the style of dress means dad shouldn’t show up in a tie and jacket while the kids wear jeans and T-shirts. And should you decide to go for a beach look, matching in style without wearing the exact clothes will make for perfect portraits.

For beach pictures, try to stay away from bold prints and colors, especially fuchsia (which can do strange things in pictures). Pastels look best at sunset.  If you mix and match navy, brown, white, and light blue, you can get a nice consistent look without looking too matched. You can do the same with other colors, but I would try to limit your color palette to 4 or less coordinating colors. If it gets too frustrating, just go with white and tan. Everyone can get that one right!

Gallery of Family Clothing Ideas

(Please note, the gallery shows you many samples so you can decide what you think works and what doesn’t.)

Email me at, and I would be happy to help you!  Someone else may be wondering the same thing.

We will work with you during our off-season (Sept-May), but during the summer, we generally do not have enough spaces for mini-sessions.  However, we may have interns that could offer reduced rates for simple sessions as they build their personal portfolios.  Contact us if you’d like more information.


carolina Newborn

ray & keith