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Self Portraits on the Beach

Updated on February 27, 2014
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0 | Source

Everyone it seems enjoys a day at the beach, and almost everyone also enjoys taking photos. Combining both loves makes for a great photographic experience. Beach scenes can be breathtaking and full of interesting examples to capture with photos.

Keeping in mind however that if photographing at the beach, you must take extra care of your photo gear. Always keep a dry and lint free towel handy and if possible a compressed can of air.

Winds can sent minute sand particles into your gear and they always seem to find the smallest crannies into which to lodge themselves, plus it appears that the front of your lens element is their favorite resting place.

If you are not careful and wipe the front of the lens before every shot, you will soon learn that these tinny specks of sand will show up as dark spots in you final images. Dusting the lens is always a priority. If using digital, gently brush the sensor regularly.

Once you have taken care of securing your gear against wind and sand damage, then the next step is to look for suitable subjects. You can capture traditional images such as the lovely lady sun bathing in a very tiny bikini, or children running along the shore splashing water all over, or the multitude of beach goers just comfortably laying on their beach towels.

But if you want to be able to explore and capture good images when the light is at its best, then like the early bird, get up early. This time of day just before sunrise or just after it, traditionally has a light which is filtered by the clouds and atmosphere making for subtle shadows and soft highlights.

If you notice, you can certainly find professional photographers and their clients at the beach just at the break of dawn, this is done to take advantage of the subtle lightning conditions and it helps when fewer people are around.

Make sure to take a few shots of the Sun rising in the horizon, as theses images can often be spectacular.

Look for tide patterns; how they gently break along the shore. Patterns created by the waves themselves are also good and make for interesting photos. Any animal life is also a good photo subject.

If you see them, take shots of the patterns created by foot steps on the wet sand; these can be very useful in emotive publications, as imprints left by marine life can too.

Sand castles or sand sculptures are not to be missed. Take images of beach goers, but look for different perspectives, such as only their feet in or out of the water. Kids running into the water, couples embracing while in the waves. Look for rock formations and plant life. Be very attentive to anything that has been washed onto the shore by the wave action. Often you will be able to find small crustaceans, jelly fish, seaweed, small conch shells and many sea shells.

Your objective or photographic challenge to use a better term, is to photograph the beach and its scenes in ways that are normally not considered. These non traditional images along with the more traditional shots can be the source for a good photo layout.

(CC BY-SA 2.0
(CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Take plenty of shots, most professionals will routinely shoot over a hundred, if not more, shots at any one time. This helps guarantee that at least some of them will be quality and pleasing photos.

If working with a model, then secure an assistant, to help carry gear, which should also include water, reflectors and extra film etc. You really can't have the model change into different outfits while on scene, actually you can but it's risky, remember that you are on a public beach, so plan the shoot ahead of time.

Avoid shots that place your subject in front of the Sun, unless you want silhouettes. Rather place the subject in a position that will find you between it and the Sun, especially in the early hours.

Get low shots or at knee level, shots while you lay on the sand, close ups medium and long shots too; have variety. If the beach also has lifeguard towers or any other structures, include them in some of your shots as well; they bring the human element into play.

A good technique is to get close to any structure and take a shot that includes a portion of it but with the main emphasis being a distant subject. Off course the opposite works well too. Make sure to have a small aperture to allow for a clear perspective from beginning to end.

Be playful, try drawing faces into the wet sand and maybe using small sea shells as the eyes, nose or mouth. Good to do is to write motivational messages or figures into the sand and photograph them before and after they are erased by the waves.

The good thing about this type of photo project is that once you have taken shots to your heart's content, and decided to call it a day, there is no better place to relax and take it easy for a while than where you already are, so enjoy.

Do you go to the beach to photograph?

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CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source


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      Lynn S. Murphy 6 years ago

      Great tips!!! I didn't think about the compressed air.