It’s that time of year when we all toss our worries away and head to the water to sink our toes in the sand and relax! Or…if you have kids like me, it would be more realistic to say it’s that time of year when we load up a massive amount of sunscreen, beach toys, and snacks and schlep it all down to the beach with a kid or two hanging from our hips. Either way you look at it, time at the beach is always fun and memorable, and all the beauty makes us think about pulling out our camera to capture the moments. Today I’m sharing some tips to help you get better photos at the beach.
Every year I like to try to get a few photos of my kids playing on the beach…and I also force them to dress up for some more formal photos!
I’m sure you’e noticed that taking photos at the beach can be tricky! Whether using a big camera or your iPhone, I’m sharing a few helpful tips to help you achieve better results.
Light on the beach can be very harsh. There are no sources of shade, and the expanses of water and sand serve as one giant reflector that reflects that harsh light everywhere. The goal is to keep your subjects from having bright light directly on their face/eyes. The best results for photos will always be in soft light, so there are three options to avoid the harsh light at the beach.
The first two options are shooting at sunrise or sunset. The light will be much softer as the sun is just rising or setting. I captured these sweet shots of my kids playing by going down to the beach shortly after sunrise. The sunlight gets very intense very quickly, so the earlier the better! Most kids wake early anyway, so why not pack a breakfast and head straight to the beach when they wake one morning? Another pro of shooting at sunrise is that the beach is much less crowded so you don’t have to worry about bystanders in your background! I position my subjects with the sun behind them, I expose for their face, and then I lighten the shadows in editing.
The final option for softer lighting is to shoot when it’s cloudy or overcast out The clouds will soften the harsh light for you. You can see in these images there is no direct light around my subjects. It was slightly overcast in the late afternoon when these photos were taken.
As you walk from indoors to outdoors, your lens will often fog as it transitions from an air-conditioned space to a hot and humid environment. I recommend walking outside and letting your lens acclimate to the temperature for a few minutes so that the fog will clear.
There are no wind barriers on the beach, so if you or your children have long hair, it can often get blown everywhere! While we all love a little Beyonce hair, you don’t want hair completely blocking the face of your subjects! Keep a brush handy or choose a hair style that pins some or all of your hair back.
The beach itself is very tricky environment to get great photos. But the sand and water aren’t the only photo worthy spots, so be on the lookout for other beautiful locations! Many times there are pathways to the beach that are lined with dunes and grasses that create linear visual interest. Dunes can be used to help block the harshness of the sun at certain times of day. The marsh, tree-lined streets, or even brightly colored houses or downtown areas could make great locations for photographs.
One thing that I’m passionate about is being present in the moment. So pick a day to try to capture some memories, but spend the majority of your time creating the memories themselves! Instead of looking up at a camera or the back of a phone, let your kids look up and see your face smiling back at them.
Molly is a family photographer based in Cumming, Georgia, serving the Atlanta area. To learn more about Molly, click here.
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Molly specializes in family & newborn photography in Greenville, SC. A former teacher and mother of three, she is known for capturing the joy & love of families. Photo sessions with Molly turn family memories into artwork for your home and for generations to come.