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How to Take Great Beach Photos

Updated on August 20, 2016
Austinstar profile image

L. Cargill, B.A., Sam Houston University, Huntsville, TX., has been writing cool and interesting articles for the internet world since 1995.

Beach Photo Techniques to Get Rid of Dark Eyes

Photography on the Beach

Beaches present some interesting challenges. As described above in the video, strong sunlight causes unwelcome shadows. Diffuse light is much softer on faces.

At times, a filter is required for shooting toward the sun. Eye damage as well as camera damage can occur without the use of sun filters.

Anytime photographers go to the beach, the hardest part of their job is to deal with the sunshine. Non-professional photographers can use a few simple techniques for beach photography. Special equipment is not needed.

Beach Silhouettes

Some of the very best beach photography is silhouette photography.
Some of the very best beach photography is silhouette photography. | Source

Techniques for Shooting Into the Sun

This shot requires a sun filter, but the technique here is to use the sun to silhouette a person, place or thing. Always be aware of the subject of your photo and where the sun is. Look for little things like a child picking up a shell in a shallow wave. Trying to shoot the whole horizon makes a dull photo.

A really cute filter is to use a beach blow up raft. Have your subject hold the raft behind them while facing the sun. From the back all the camera will see is the shadow of the subject in front of the raft.

Other techniques include shooting everything under an umbrella. It's best to use a fill flash on skin tones while shooting under an umbrella or the skin tones will take on the color cast of the umbrella.

There are a few hours in the day when beach sun is ideal for shooting photos. Early in the morning, the sun makes a lovely backdrop for people walking on the beach. Try to keep the sun at an angle rather than point the camera straight at the sun.

Shooting with the sun at your left or right arm, a 90 degree angle, makes for some incredible shots at sunrise and sunset.

In the evening around sunset, the sun surrounds scenery to give it a natural looking glow. Again, shoot from an angle. Do not point your camera straight into the sun.

Depth of Field Technique for Beach Photos

Use a depth of field technique for photos at the beach with a boardwalk. Stage the family at various spots.
Use a depth of field technique for photos at the beach with a boardwalk. Stage the family at various spots. | Source

Portrait Photography on the Beach

A boardwalk is the perfect background for shooting portraits. A photograph of someone just standing around on the beach is very boring. The background is too wide and usually flat. Look for a background that includes texture and depth as well as the water and sand.

This boardwalk background could be used to pose people or animals any number of ways. Stagger their stance along both sides of the rails. Have people looking at each other, not the camera. Experiment with lighting and other props.

This technique is called showing depth of field. The narrowing of a walkway or trail will provide a focal point for the viewer's eye. The front of the photo narrows into a distant point which gives the illusion of distance.

The technique also works with a wall. Have the subject stand at the near point of the wall and shoot at an angle that shows the wall appearing to narrow at the end. Look for a wall with a good bit of texture like weather beaten wood.

Use Color in Beach Photography

Use bright color when shooting beach photos!
Use bright color when shooting beach photos! | Source

Color Beach Photography

While black and white photographs are very dramatic, the beach is always so colorful. Bright colors really pop with all that sun. The water often has a special color that is hard to duplicate anywhere. Even sand beaches have different colors to them.

For this technique, you will shoot away from the sun. Put the sun behind you, make sure your shadow isn't in the shot and get close. Everything is so bright that you won't need a flash (unless shadows are showing where you don't want them). Exposure times are very short, so action shots are possible.

Color photos can easily be converted to black and white, but the same is not true for black and white photos to be converted to color. The latter is nearly impossible so always use color film.

Use Props at the Beach

Build something from sand and put your subjects around it.
Build something from sand and put your subjects around it. | Source

Exposure Techniques for Beach Photography

Digital cameras of today come equipped to deal with different 'scenes'. Consult your camera's manual to find the settings for beaches. These scene settings allow the camera to adjust for bright direct lighting and you don't have to worry about it.

Another technique is to 'bracket' your exposures. Cameras should definitely come with a button or switch or setting that allows the photographer to under expose or overexpose a shot. Don't be afraid to use these settings.

Cameras are fairly good these days for judging the light values, but they can be subtly incorrect. So start with an under exposure, an auto exposure and an over exposure of the same scene and then determine which setting is best.

Some photographers do this for all their shots. However, if you run your photographs through a photo editing software before saving them, you can correct for over and under exposure at that time.

© 2012 Lela


Submit a Comment
  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    Yep, sand is the enemy as well as the friend :-)

  • portables profile image


    6 years ago

    Watch out for the sand - that's my tip, I've lost a camera shutter to sand damage on windy days.

  • PaoloJpm profile image

    John Paolo B.Magdaluyo 

    6 years ago from Philippine

    Great tips! I love taking pictures at the beach especially during sunset and sunrise. I love taking pictures those times because of the sun's reflection and beautiful color. And now I can make my photography better using your techniques when I got a chance to drop by at the beach some time. Voted up!

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    Thanks, srsddn. That's a cool hat you are wearing. I noticed you have some beach hubs I need to read. We Americans don't usually associate India with beaches, but that's just weird. We know there are quite a few there after all.

  • srsddn profile image


    6 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

    Great techniques. More than camera these techniques can bring in fantastic results. Thanks for sharing all these tips. The video explains a lot. Thumbed up and shared.

  • torrilynn profile image


    6 years ago

    thanks for the techniques. i love taking beach photos whenever i do get the chance to visit and my pics never came out right. with your advice im sure that will all change.

  • Natashalh profile image


    6 years ago from Hawaii

    I love taking beach photos, but it can be really challenging! Thanks for the video link - it's useful.

  • Global-Chica profile image


    6 years ago from New York, NY

    These are really great tips for taking photos on the beach and you provide beautiful examples. Nice layout too. I'm sharing this :)

  • Metal Detectorist profile image

    Metal Detectorist 

    6 years ago

    Wonderful tips here about beach photography and how to get the best shot! Thanks for posting!

  • RealHousewife profile image

    Kelly Umphenour 

    6 years ago from St. Louis, MO

    You have the best ideas and advice! Now remind me of all this when we are in Mexico! Or maybe I will just ask you to take my pix:) lol

  • catchadream profile image


    6 years ago from Lakeland, Florida

    Good information for getting great photo shots on the beach.

  • akirchner profile image

    Audrey Kirchner 

    6 years ago from Washington

    Love the boardwalk photo--I keep trying to get photos like that but I think I need a beach and we are WAY inland now....hmm...maybe I could fill the wetlands with water and construct a pier....probably not. But next time I go to the beach, I'm going to look for one so I'll have a great shot like that. Great ideas too though the beaches of Oregon are more "troubled"--as in usually overcast (bring a coat and boots)--or overcast--and tons of rock formations jutting out everywhere...but definitely raw beauty. Now all I have to do is find a boardwalk....

  • Austinstar profile imageAUTHOR


    6 years ago from Somewhere near the heart of Texas

    Thanks Peggy and Carol! I'm really itching to go get some more beach shots although I truly need to dig out all my photos and organize them. I've got tons!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    6 years ago from Houston, Texas

    Hi Lela,

    Good tips for getting good photo shots at the beach. Voted up, useful and sharing.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 

    6 years ago from Arizona

    Love the pictures and really good ideas for creating good beach scenes. Thanks for sharing and Voting UP.


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