If you have ever been to a beach before with your camera you know that there can be several challenges with photographing in such a luxurious location. Just for starters, the sand! So wonderful to soak your toes into but a pain in the butt when you get sand in the little nooks and crannies of your camera. Then you have to worry about not just your equipment, but you have to be very mindful of your settings due to your location. I’ve put together a few tips on how to take fabulous beach photos!
1) Bracket Every Shot
There is a lot of light on the beach. I know that is kind of stating the obvious, isn’t it? The sunlight is also reflecting off the sand, the water, and the seashells. You are going to have a lot of variable situations with additional light sources or “hot spots” that can appear in your image. The best way to avoid this ruining all your shots is to bracket every single time. No, not every shot, but if you change directions, focal lengths, angles. With these kinds of changes, you will find that the settings you had facing into the sunlight will have to change if you are now facing away.
2) Spot Metering
Spot metering is a beautiful tool to use when you are photographing on the beach. This way, you are able to expose to your subject’s skin or color hue rather than the surrounding areas. If you choose to use “matrix metering,” you might find that your subject is blown out or overexposed because of all the additional light.
3) Pack a lens hood
Due to the large amount of light coming and bouncing off of every surface on the beach, you will need something to help contain how much light is being captured in your images without over or underexposing the photos and needing to do a lot of post-production editing later. A lens hood is a great tool to use for precisely this; you’ll be able to cut back on the haze in your images seriously.
4) Keep an Eye on the Horizon
This is a tip that most people don’t think about when they are photographing on the beach, but if you have the horizon going across someone’s face or neck or at an angle, the whole image begins to look choppy. So keep your eye on the horizon when you are shooting to ensure that you have more “flowing” lines in your image rather than “sharp” lines.
5) Photographing on Populated Beaches
The best tip I can share other than the advice about bracketing. Actually, they have all been pretty solid, but you know what I am getting at. Unless you know you are shooting at a private beach or that you are going when the beach tends to be empty, you need to be prepared to photograph and work around strangers. This tip will do more with angles. It is not impossible to capture amazing photos on the beach even when there are lots of people. However, it is more challenging! You might want to scout for a less populated area and if that doesn’t work you are going to have to be creative with your angles to remove or lessen the number of people in your shot.
6) Mindful of Your Gear
It is way too easy for sand to get into your bag, and then when you are changing lenses, you hear that awful CRUNCH sound of sand being ground into the sensitive cavity of your camera. Or even worse – you get caught up in a perfect photographed moment, and suddenly you are dropping your bag into the ocean! Maybe add an extra strap when you are carrying your gear on the beach for safety.
7) Time Changes
I am referring to the golden and blue hours for this tip. Due to the abundance of light that I’ve mentioned a few times in this article, you will need to plan for this time change if you want to shoot at either blue hours or golden hours. The golden hours start earlier and last longer (in my opinion is always a good thing), and the blue hours begin much earlier and last shorter than average. Even with the time difference, you do not want to miss the additional color that these magnificent hours will bring to your photography.
When working with new locations and situations you’ve never photographed before, you will want to allow yourself more time to capture the images you want to immortalize. Give yourself more time, and then the biggest tip I can give you – HAVE FUN!
If you want to hear more fun stories from my adventures – I have released a podcast! Click the Spotify link below to check out all the episodes – new ones are released every Thursday!