7 Tips for Better Beach Photos

beach photos

©istockphoto/Borut Trdina

Beaches are notoriously stunning…and hard to photograph. People wear hats. Sand gets in the camera. The wind whips everything into a blur. Here are 7 tips to better beach photos.

1. Lose the Hat
We all should wear hats at the beach for sun protection. But get your friends to take it off for the photo. The brim will put their face in shadow against a light sky and lighter sand, which will render their face a dark void. Plus the wind will whip their hair, giving them that wild beach look.

2. Use Fill Flash
Even better use fill-flash, a low-powered flash setting present on cheap cameras and some smartphone cameras, to gently fill in the shadows. It will make their face stand out, add a catchlight to the eye, and can be subtle enough that it’s not an obvious technique.

3. Shoot Away From The Sun
When you put the sun over your shoulder so you’re between it and the subject, you’ll have more illumination and texture on your subject. Colors will pop more as well, especially at the edges of the day. It still works at midday, but the effects are not quite as dramatic.

4. Shoot Into the Sun
That being said, shooting directly into the sun is fun, especially on the beach. It will make your scene more monochromatic and silhouette-based, where the story becomes about shape and the light. That’s a fun creative process and the broad expanse of the shoreline is perfect for silhouettes and monochrome shots.

5. Get Low
Get low to the ground. Or low to the water. It will make your photos just a tad different: most photos are taken at standing height: we’ve all seen a ton of photos take that way. Make yours different.

6. Get in the Water
You came to the beach because of the water, so get in the water and shoot. It will cool you off. It will also give you some new angles: like shooting toward the beach from the water instead of the other way around. And you can photograph half above/half underwater scenes and marine life that you can only shoot if you’re willing to get wet.

7. Go Macro
Put your camera on macro setting and focus on the details. Shoot the sand on someone’s skin, the texture of a seashell, or whatever grabs your fancy. You’ll soon be seeing the beach details like never before.

The beach and the sea are waiting.

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