If you want to stand out on your Instagram feed with your vacation photos, you need to think outside the box and research the ways to improve your beach photography. Below, there are some useful tips on how to take more balanced and intriguing photos at the beach that will come in handy both for beginners and more experienced photographers.
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Take care of gear and technicalities
There is no doubt that you can take an amazing beach shot with nothing but a smartphone at hand. Most modern smartphones have decent cameras and you can take excellent photos with them, especially if you use advanced or pro settings in your camera app and can use manual settings. However, to really boost your beach photography, you should consider investing in some gear such as a tripod (a smaller one for mobile photography and a larger one for DSLR cameras) to stabilize your gear. If you have a lens camera, think about purchasing a polarizing filter for your lenses as they work well with beach photography, enhancing some hues and darkening others.
With beach photography, you should opt for wider angles to include more context in your shots, so it’s good if you have a DSLR camera with a wide-angle lens. If you don’t, choose wider apertures when you shoot at the beach. For mobile photography, it is possible to adjust some pro settings in dedicated mode or apps. What’s more, you should shoot beach photography with a lower ISO. This is especially important for mobile photography, as higher ISO settings will lead to photos with more grain and noise.
Search for a focal point
Many beach photos look beautiful due to lighting, water, or a cloudy sky, but at the same time, they are ordinary and dull as they lack any dynamics and story behind them. Such images are plain pictures with no focal point. If you really want to reach something unconventional with your beach photography, try to search for a focal point, or to put it simply, an interesting object or a subject within your frame that will draw the viewers’ eye. It can be anything, from a detail on a seashore to a person in your frame. Adding a focal point in your beach photos will make your shots more luring if there are more details.
Try to avoid shooting crowded beaches
It’s really hard to shoot at the beach if it’s really crowded. It’s always sad to notice an unwanted body part of a person during the editing process, as it takes skill and time to fix the photo. You should avoid busy hours and beach crowds at the cost of waking up earlier or staying at your location after hours. However, you should not fully exclude people from your shots, as they can be a great subject and a focal point of your image. What’s more, portraiture works great with beach photography, as you can find a lot of complimenting locations and backgrounds for your subject.
Leverage the golden hour for your beach photography
The best time with the most favourable lighting condition for beach photography is the golden hour. It lasts for around 30 minutes after the sunrise and 30 minutes before the sunset. This is the time when the surroundings are filled with golden light, and the sky has awesome red, orange, and pink hues in it. Since the light is diffused during the golden hour as the sun is low, you will be able to take glowy pictures with a softer light.
Furthermore, you can extend the time of your photoshoot with the blue hour. In the morning, it is an hour before the sunrise; at night, an hour after the sunset. During the blue hour, the sky has a deep blue color in it which gets lighter or darker as time passes. It is a good opportunity to shoot for a longer period of time when the beach is empty or capture some early stars with longer shutter speed.
Use foreground along with background
Most of those who practice photography pay close attention to their backgrounds. That’s especially true for beach photography since the water and the sky are usually the main subject of interest for photographers. Sometimes it is not enough to get an outstanding shot. Try to search for ways to make your composition more attention-grabbing by placing things of interest in the foreground. For your shots, sand, rocks, greenery, or wood can all become interesting foreground objects to make your photos more unconventional.
Search for interesting details to shoot close-ups
Beach photography is commonly associated with landscape shots of sky and water. However, when you plan a photoshoot at the beach, you should consider shooting some close-ups or even macro apart from regular, more expected pictures. Stepping out of your comfort zone to work with different perspectives and new genres will help you see your location from another angle. This will result in more shots, among which you might find more of the ones you will be satisfied with.
Ideas for beach photography shoots
With beach photography, experimenting with your shots is a must if you want to take appealing and artistic photos that are different from thousands of pictures of the same type. Here are some ideas on what you can shoot at the beach if you are stuck with coming up with a plan for a beach photoshoot.
Portraiture: As mentioned earlier, you can take stunning portrait shots at the beach due to lighting, water, and reflections; at the beach, there are also all kinds of activities you can shoot to make your shots more candid.
High-speed photography: Many summer activities, especially near water, are about action and movement. It might be hard to take sharp pictures when you shoot moving people, so try shooting with the highest shutter speed to freeze the movement.
Shooting with slow shutter speed: Opting for slower shutter speed and long exposure will help you take beautiful photos of water that will look silky and smooth. If you shoot people with slow shutter speed, you will be able to take images with intentional motion blur.
Silhouettes: At the beach, it’s a good idea to experiment with shooting silhouettes and shapes with the help of a rising or a fading sun; if you place the sun behind an object in your foreground, you will receive its silhouette with the help of the backlight.
Macro photography: You shouldn’t limit yourself with standard frames; instead, search for interesting things and details on a beach such as a seashell or a starfish and practice some beach macro.
Using props: Don’t hesitate to bring some props with you for a beach photoshoot. That way, you can be sure you have your natural surroundings, water, the sky, and greenery to shoot, but apart from that, you will have things you prepared in advance for some interesting compositions. It can be both some small souvenirs for macro photography or some props for portraiture.
Beach photography is a welcoming genre for an enthusiast with any experience. Near water, you can always find something to shoot. Water also reflects the sky and clouds, creating complimenting visual layers in your shots and enhancing the light. While at some points it can be a real advantage and boost your beach photos, when it’s too bright outside, it can become challenging to take adequately exposed pictures. That’s why you need to pay attention to at least basic technicalities even when you shoot the most beautiful beach you’ve ever been to.
Similar to other photography genres, you need to pay attention to light and composition first and foremost. It is obvious that you should keep your horizon straight, but apart from that, try to experiment with different angles and compositions that will result in varying shots. Don’t limit yourself with the golden hour when it comes to choosing the time of your photoshoot. You can experiment with different weather conditions and shooting at different times of day since all of them can help you add some interesting shots to your portfolio.