4 Tips for Taking Excellent Beach Photos

Shooting on location can be an exciting opportunity for any photographer—whether you’re an amateur or seasoned pro. And what better place to have a fun summer photoshoot than the beach? You can take your pick (pun intended) of action shots of friends riding the waves or get the whole family together to pose around the latest sandcastle creation.

No matter what type of beach photos you decide to take, you can create some breathtaking photos given the right setting and lighting. But keep in mind that a beach photo shoot is not without its challenges. Consider these tips to optimize your pictures:


Consider different lighting conditions


The days often seem longer at the beach, offering more opportunities for shooting. This is because there aren’t many things blocking the sun’s rays. The time period around sunrise and sunset offers some of the best lighting opportunities for photographers—so much so that it’s often referred to as “magic hour” or “golden hour” around these times. If you shoot on the beach during magic hour, the shots will likely turn out soft and wistful.


And if rain happens to be in the forecast, make the most of it! Consider using the unique and vivid backdrops during stormy and foggy days. These different lighting conditions can really transform your images.


Choose creative locations


The shoreline at the beach is one of the most commonly shot backgrounds. And while the beach offers a beautiful backdrop, don’t forget to seek out some unlikely or unusual locations.


One way to do this is to look for spots to help tell your beach story. For example, say your story is “pathway to the beach.” You can take all pictures with this theme in mind, capturing docks, pillars, worn– paths through sand dunes, or the boardwalk. Experiment with different spots and choose which place tells your story best.


Check the background

Be mindful of the horizon when snapping shots at the beach. An uneven horizon in a shot is more evident when there is a sharp skyline—especially where the ocean meets the sky. It’s important to make sure your horizons are straight. Otherwise, you might lose the integrity of the shot and appear lopsided. Consider placing your horizon off-center. A centered horizon can sometimes make the photo appear chopped in half.


Another thing to watch for in your background is garbage or a random stranger in an unflattering pose. You can avoid picking up this background “noise” by using a focal point like a pattern in the sand, or some other interesting object.


Be mindful of exposure


The beach can be incredibly bright, and, because of this, you’ll want to watch your exposure settings.

The auto mode on cameras may produce under-exposed shots. In this case, it might be necessary to use the manual settings. When using manual settings, look at what the camera wants to expose and then adjust it a few stops.


Some cameras offer the opportunity to use spot metering, helping to overcome some overhead exposure. This is particularly useful in bright light and when you are aiming to expose a shaded area.


You can also use UV and polarizing filters. A UV filter will help to cut back on atmospheric haze. Whereas the polarizing filter helps to filter out some light, reducing reflection and boosting contrast.


Protect your gear


This one might seem like a no-brainer, but protecting your gear from the sand and salty seawater is an absolute must. Outdoor Photo Gear has a wide selection of products to keep your camera protected.


Do you have a tried-and-true beach photo tip for photographers? Share it with @ScanMyPhotos on Twitter!