Six top tips for great beach photographs

August 06, 2013  •  1 Comment

Summer's not over yet, and I'm sure many of you will be soaking up some beachy fun before it goes (maybe you're reading this from your deck chair); what a perfect opportunity to catch some happy snaps of your family having fun. But when we've been headed down to the beach for photography sessions, I've had several clients tell me that they struggle to take good photographs on the sand. It's true that it's not the easiest setting, the bright reflections can send your camera into a tizzy, but here are a few top tips to make your summer beach memories frame-worthy:


1. Avoid the height of the day When the sun is high in the sky the glare from the sand will make your images over exposed (they'll look super light)  and very contrasty, and overhead light sources can create some really funky shadows. It's best to shoot during the golden hours - when the sun is lower in the sky, at the start or the end of the day, when everything has that perfect hazy golden glow to it (ya see where the name's coming from.... :) ) or even that time right after the sun has dipped below the horizon - known as the blue hour.

Suzi Bowles Photography Family Beach Photos Suzi Bowles Photography family beach photography Surrey

2. Make the most of the reflections in the water Shallow water or that heavy saturated sand that's left behind as each wave rolls way can make for some beautiful reflections that can completely change the shape of your photograph and create some magical results.


Suzi Bowles Photography beach family photography reflections on the beach family running blue sky and clouds


3. Let the children play Real moments with fun, laughter, and emotional connection make the most compelling images and ultimately, they'll be the ones that you look back at in years to come and think about how amazing that day was. So let them play - jump the waves, make sandcastles and dig holes, eat ice-creams and get messy, encourage them to dump a bucket of cold water over dad's head (shhhhhhh, you didn't here that here!) and capture the moment.

Suzi Bowles Photography beach photographs girl riding the waves boogie board

 4: Alter your angle - You'll make more interesting memories if you shake it up a bit, so when you're photographing the kids, don't be afraid of getting your knees wet, and get down to their eye level. Alter your angles to make more interesting pictures - lie on your belly and shoot along the sand, or look down on a scene directly from above. 

Suzi Bowles Photography better beach photos baby with bucket sitting on sand Girl on the beach stairs Suzi Bowles family photographer Surrey


5. Keep an eye on the horizon It seems there's nowhere more obvious than the beach for a wonky angled shot. I get a lot of stick from my husband for moaning about photographs that I see posted online with a horizon that's sitting at 120 degrees - keep an eye on your horizon, especially if you have the sea in your frame - although it might not be immediately apparent, having the sea appear as if it's about to pour right off the edge of the world will give the viewer the feeling of something not being right, even though they can't quite put their finger on what, which will detract from the main story in the image. 

Girl with red balloon on the beach Suzi Bowles Photography Girl on the beach with dad Suzi Bowles Photography

6. Don't be afraid of adverse weather a bit of cloud cover makes an excellent diffuser for that harsh light if you're trying to get your head around using your camera in a semi-automatic setting - if you're on the beach and you find the cloud rolling in (as we are all too familiar with here in Orange County - June gloom anybody?), you can still get some excellent photographs. Focus on the activities taking place or look for interesting scenes or angles to add interest to your photograph. 

Dark moody skies, big waves and a bit of a storm brewing can make the most excellent dramatic images. But beware of the sand - camera's and sand don't make good bed-buddies, so keep your camera shut away inside it's case and in a bag away from the flying sand when you're not using it. Sea water can also be damaging to your equipment, so give it a wipe down at the end of the day to remove any salt spray etc. 

Surfer in the water on the beach New Zealand silhouette Suzi Bowles Photography Surrey

Hooray to beach days!





Jennifer Line(non-registered)
Amazing photos Suzi and really good tips that would never have occured to me. Looking forward to you setting up business in the UK!
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