Beach Series Part 2: 17 Ideas for Creative Shooting

June 30, 2016

If you missed the first post in my “beach series,” click to learn my suggestions for what to pack!

As I previously mentioned, beach photography is my absolute favorite.  I always return home reinvigorated, both mentally and creatively.  The water, change of scenery, and lighthearted moods fuel my inspiration and I always return home with a memory card full of treasured images that have pushed my creative bounds. I have posted on my website here and here a few of my favorite beach trips.

Here are 17 ideas for creative shoots:


1.)Intentional Blur: A Lensbaby or other tilt-shift lens is an obvious choice, while free-lensing is clearly NOT a good idea (sand + unprotected camera = bad news).  Another way to get blur is to shoot through a clear ziplock baggie that has a small hole in it.

2.)Silhouettes: The water provides a perfect opportunity for a beautiful silhouette.

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4.) Include Your Children’s Toys or Interests: In a few years your child’s interests will dramatically change.  Be sure to capture their favorite toys, games, or water sports.


5.) Try a Slow Shutter Speed: I can generally handhold at 1/30 of a second if I really steady myself and use a light lens.  The moving waves look so mysterious when caught with a slow shutter.


6.) The Night Sky: Depending on your location, you may be away from a lot of light pollution.  Choose an evening with zero to very little moonlight and clouds, and try to capture the Milky Way!


7.) Incorporate Nature: In Dallas, we don’t have palm trees, sea gulls, or crabs.  I usually find time to go for a walk with my camera and concentrate on capturing the beauty of the land.


8.) YOU! About the last place on Earth I want my picture taken is at the beach.  Swimsuits, no makeup, red skin, and windblown hair just don’t make me feel pretty.  So, I get it.  But try to think outside of the box when it comes to showing YOU were at the beach too.  In this shot I had handed my husband my camera and I love that you can still see it’s me without seeing me in all of my beach glory.


9.) Shoot from Above, Below, and Right at Eye Level.  Try every single angle you can think of.


10.) Don’t be Afraid of FULL Sun: 90% of your beach memories will happen in full sun.  I suggest your widest angle of lens, using hats and sunglasses if needed, and using the reflection of the white sand to your advantage.


11.) Sunrise is Your Friend: Sunrise and sunset are completely different beasts at the beach, especially because your waterfront location doesn’t change.  I have noticed that my sunrise images seem to have more clarity and “brightness” to them than my sunset images do.  I assume this may be to atmosphereic fog and dust in the air at the end of the day.

12.) Look for Reflections in the Sand:I generally find the best reflections happen after the tide has just receded across a very flat and shallow section of the beach.


13.) Look for Leading Lines: Boardwalks and dune fencing are perfect for this!

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14.) Don’t Forget to Take Pictures of Where You Were Staying.  This picture isn’t going to win any photographic awards, but I love that it reminds me of that time we stayed in a tiny one room hotel and all shared the bed.  (never again.)


15.) Rainstorms: There’s just something about a big storm rolling in to the beach that just gets me excited.  These images were taken just minutes apart – isn’t it incredible how much the colors of the sky changed?


16.) Consider Alternate Lighting Sources: Fireworks (if they are allowed on the beach), bonfires, flashlights, glowsticks, etc are all fun ways to play with your lighting at night.


17.) If you have a GoPro, underwater camera, or protective case for your phone or DSLR Then Use It! I am a HUGE fan of my GoPro.  I own the Hero4 and it is perfect for the beach.  I don’t have to worry about the sand or water and it’s small size means I can just throw it in my beach bag.  (image below taken with the Hero4)






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