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        Best Virginia Beaches for Family Photos

        The beach is my favorite shooting location for sure. Here’s why:

        1. Open space. We can scream, run, laugh all we care to without disturbing anyone.
        2. Colors. The sand is neutral and bright, complimenting all wardrobes and reflecting the sun to make the final images cheerful and light. Virginia Beach water can also have a beautiful shade of dark teal.
        3. Getting wet! I LOVE ending a session splashing in the water! It creates the best expressions on everyone.
        4. Piers. Shooting right next to the pilings makes for unique composition.

        North End, Virginia Beach

        The North End as a lot going for it: convenient, sometimes easy parking, fewer people, wide dunes.

        Not all streets are created equal, but I have a few favorites!

        • Some have storybook oak trees over the board walk
        • Some have taller dunes than others
        • Some have more beautiful grass than other
        • Some have easy parking
        • None have public bathrooms
        Virginia beach family photography at north end mini photo session by alison bell, photographer
        North end virginia beach family photo sessions at 81st by alison bell, photographer

        Pleasure House Point, Virginia Beach

        I avoided this place for over a year. The trails are just too tight for families, especially with more than 2 kids.

        But the photographers – there’s a dozen at a time!

        What I didn’t know was how dynamic, versatile and on point this place was. Yes, there were a dozen photogs every evening in the fall… but we’re so not in each others way! I was shocked!

        Fall mini sessions at pleasure house point natural area in Virginia beach with alison bell photographer
        Fall mini sessions at pleasure house point natural area in Virginia beach with alison bell photographer
        Alison Bell, Photographer
        Fall mini sessions at pleasure house point natural area in Virginia beach with alison bell photographer
        Alison Bell, Photographer

        Sandbridge Beach, Virginia Beach

        This is my go-to. Its a bit of a drive if you want the pier, but its worth it to get away from crowds. Just about any other public beach is chock full of people to work around. The dunes are huge in some areas, so big they block the buildings. The water here is a dark teal in the summer!

        If you’re visiting Virginia beach from out of town, its definitely worth the drive to get away from crowds. I wouldn’t even try a family session in the summer at Oceanfront. 

        Parking at Little Island Park is $2 (for all day!) for residents in the high season, $5 for non-residents. The park has a playground, tennis courts, showers, restrooms, and a fishing pier.

        See more Sandbridge Beach images

        Ft. Story Beach, JEB Ft. Story Virginia Beach

        Fort Story Beach is located on Joint Expeditionary Base Ft. Story (Army). Its command is combined with JEB Little Creek (Navy).

        If you’re military, this is your place. There is no one here! I mean, no one other than photographers. From what I hear, anyone can get on the base to see the lighthouse, but you’ll have to go through the main gate and get checked out. Just plan accordingly.

        It’s Cape Henry, the very opening of the Chesapeake Bay. Photographically, the light is magical because you can get *almost* direct sunset light. There’s also Cape Henry lighthouse and plenty of dune grass.

        Like most bases, there’s tons of wildlife. We’ve seen crabs has big as my palm, skate egg sacks, dozens of horseshoe crab shells, and upwards of 20 dolphins feeding offshore at one time. Bonus: we saw a submarine being escorted out of the bay!

        Warning: No showers, no toilets. There’s an Express across the street but the hours are spotty.

        See more Ft Story images.

        Fort story family photo session on the beach

        East Beach, Norfolk

        East Beach is on the Chesapeake bay making the light much different than the other beaches. The access paths can be longer with dune grass taller than me (I’m 5’3″, not super hard). But it just those paths are magical!

        Perk: Less wind on the bay! If you want beach without hair issues, this is a good bet.

        There’s periodic runoff pipes that open into the water. So while there’s no obstructive pipes on the beach itself, they’re quite apparent from the waterline on. There’s lots of rocky jetties and the water color as nice as the ocean.

        In some spaces the dunes and grass completely block the houses behind them.

        Fewer people too. But, that’s relative to VB.

        See more East Beach Photos.

        The Narrows | First Landing State Park, Virginia Beach

        Technically, this isn’t a beach. Its inland on a lake, but there’s water and sand so I’m including it!

        The Narrows has a beach feel, but has trails and downed trees to give it more variety than other beaches – pines, trails, marsh grass. There are houses across the water that tend to get in the background. Boats and jet skies are a nuisance too, but I edit them out. 

        *This is not located on the main side of First Landing State park! Its the complete opposite side of Cape Henry on 64th Street, so Google the directions it before you go!

        The downside? So. Many. People. Maybe I was just spoiled in Okinawa? The Japanese are sun averse and the beaches were empty everywhere! Even in October there were crowds.

        I would think very hard about shooting sunset here May-September. Sunrise would be much better to avoid the crowds. Even weekdays were crowded!

        Being a state park, there is and entry fee: $7 weekdays/$10 weekends.

        See more images from The Narrows.

        What I Didn’t Include & Why

        Chicks Beach, Virginia beach

        The Chesapeake Bay bridge runs right in front of the skylight, and the other direction has tall condos. Neither is good. If you want a pier, Sandbridge is better, if you want the bay, East Beach is it.

        Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, Virginia Beach

        Don’t get me wrong, Back Bay is beautiful! But it doesn’t look a ton different than the North end as far as grass & dunes go. It is a long haul – 45 minutes or more – for most people and despite the drive, there can be so many fishermen at dusk. That means you might get more people at Back Bay than you would North End.

        Unless its close to you, its not entirely worth the drive unless there’s some meaning for you.

        Alison is the chaos-commanding family photographer in Virginia Beach, VA thriving in the loud & messy offering in home lifestyle, outdoor, and extended family sessions.

        Owner & Photographer of Alison Bell, Photographer, she is also the circus ring leader of four boys, half-homeschooling USMC family.

        Alison offers full-contact family photo sessions with wardrobe styling, sessions that feel like a party and custom print shopping. Even Dad has a good time!

        She's on a mission to get your images in your hand, rather than gathering digital dust! Get an album and print dozens of shots in one place!

        If you can't remember last time your family did photos, its time to chat asap!

        Clients rave about how easy and enjoyable their session is and how their kids wanting to do it again!

        Alison Bell, Photographer serves VA Beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cape Charles, and Hampton in Hampton Roads area of Virginia.

        Find her on Insta @alisonbellphotog!

        Hi! I’m Alison!

        I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

        I’m a chaos-commanding family photographer thriving in the loud & messy.

        I love freezing time, photographing families in their own element at home, or on the beach!

        I’m  the ring leader of four boy circus, half-homeschooling USMC family, currently in Virginia Beach, VA!

        Follow the antics on IG @alisonbellphotog!