Beach Photography Tips

Have you ever been on a beach holiday and thought it would be a good idea to take thousands of photographs to remember how beautiful it was, only to be disappointed with the final result? I’ll bet you took a portrait of your loved one only for the shot to turn them into a dark shadow—or it left them with harsh black shadows on their faces. Don’t worry; you’re not the worst photographer in the world—this problem is quite common.

use your flash for beach photography

“laughter” captured by Melissa M

Photography can be tricky in the bright light of day, especially in a hot, reflective place like the beach, but it is not impossible. If you adhere to a few of the following tips, you will find that your beach photography will most definitely improve.

1. Use Your Flash

I know it sounds odd to recommend flash photography in broad daylight, but this is a technique used by professional photographers. It’s called “fill flash,” and it does just that—it fills in all those dark shadows! Fill in flash really only works if you are close to you subject, as a flash does not illuminate too far from the light source. So, a perfect time to use fill in flash is if you are taking a portrait and you have the bright sky in the background, for example. Turn the flash on. Focus as normal. Take the photo. It’s that simple.

fill flash used in beach portrait

“At the beach” captured by Alexander M

If you find that your subject is a little washed out, try turning the flash down (if you have an external flash) or if not, simply take a step or two back from your subject and try again. The photo should turn out with a well-exposed background, and your subject’s face should be well lit with no harsh shadows. Fill in flash is also perfect to use when your subject has a hat on, to stop the hat covering their face with a dark shadow.

2. Choose the Right Time of Day

Obviously, the brightest and hottest part of the day makes the most problems with photography exposure. I recommend taking photos in the early morning and the late afternoon. The light at this time of day is somewhat filtered, so it’s not as harsh and gives lovely tones. It also creates a moodier feeling in the photo. And once again, it prevents to some degree those dark shadows (do you get the feeling that I don’t like shadows?).

beach photography at sunset

“beach cricket…” captured by Rajarshi MITRA

3. Take a Photo of One Special Thing

When you’re at the beach, the temptation is to just snap away and take photos of just the beach. That’s great if you want to end up with 548 holiday snaps of the same thing! Make your photos something interesting. Focus on one subject. Don’t take a photo of your kids off in the distance playing on the sand. Instead, how about taking an up close shot of them, building a sandcastle, their little faces deep in concentration as they build it higher and higher? Or what about some foot prints in the sand? A feather? A crab peeking out from its home in the dunes? All these might sound like silly things to photograph, but you’ll create a story of your time instead of just bland old images.

two crabs on the beach

“Ghost crab” captured by hyper7pro

4. Compose Your Shot Carefully

A well composed photograph draws the viewer in to a resting spot and makes them think. Plonking everything in the smack bang middle of your photo looks kind of drab and dull after a while. Okay, here’s a little secret: you don’t have to have a great camera to take great shots, it’s all to do with composition.

beach photography composition tips

“Retro Hollywood Print” captured by Lisa Bruno

Example? Okay, to keep it simple, imagine you’re taking a photo of the ocean. Instead of putting the horizon light right across the middle, imagine your viewfinder is divided by three equal parts. Now, put the horizon either on the bottom third or the top third line and suddenly the photo is all the more interesting. It draws in the viewer.

Practice using the above mentioned tips and you ‘ll find that your photography will improve immensely. But most of all, enjoy taking photos!

About the Author
Melle Veronesi has a wedding photography business in Byron Bay Australia. Her portfolio can be viewed at her website: http://www.melleweddingphotography.com.au/Byron-Bay.html.

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4 Comments

  1. Nicole says:

    Very helpful, I love taking pictures in the summer and at the beach because its one of the most beautiful sceneries. But I usually take pictures that look like the very first one. Thank-you PictureCorrect!

  2. Samanta says:

    Thank you so much for those tips! Whenever I go to the beach, I always bring a cam with me and I take advantage of the natural lights with great shades of blue on the background. I will apply what you have said above and see how it would work. Thanks!

  3. Lynn says:

    i would also suggest ensuring the horizon is straight. It doesn’t have to be, but it tends to look better.

  4. Extremely helpful!! I love the tips a lot.

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