Are you looking for ways to improve your beach portrait photography? Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced photographer, these tips will help you take better photos of people on the beach.
From choosing the right location to using the right props, we’ll show you how to capture stunning portraits that reflect the beauty and spirit of the beach.
So read on for our best tips and tricks!
Table of Contents
1. Go When It’s Not Crowded
This is probably the most important tip on this list. When the beach is crowded, it’s hard to get a good photo because there are so many people in the way.
The best time to take beach portraits or any outdoor portrait is early in the morning or late in the evening when most people have left the beach.
Also, consider the day of the week, as weekends tend to be the busiest time at the beach. If you can, take your portraits on a weekday.
Another thing to consider is if there are any holidays nearby as many people may be off of work and a weekday could turn into a crowded weekend.
2. Choose the Right Location
The location of your beach portrait can make or break the photo.
If you choose a location that is too far from the ocean, your subjects will look small in the frame.
If you choose a location that is too close to the ocean, your subjects may get wet from the waves. The best thing to do is to walk around the beach and find a spot that you think looks good.
For example, if you want to take a photo of your subjects with the ocean in the background, you’ll need to find a spot where the ocean is visible but not too close.
A good rule of thumb is to choose a spot that is either about 10-20 feet from the water’s edge or a couple of feet into the water’s edge if they aren’t afraid of getting wet.
If you want to take a photo of your subjects with sand dunes in the background, you’ll need to find a spot where the sand dunes are visible but not too close.
3. Use a Wide-Angle Lens
A wide-angle lens is a type of camera lens that allows you to capture a wider field of view.
This is perfect for beach portraits because it will allow you to get the entire scene in the frame.
4. Golden Hour
If you can, take your portraits during the golden hour, which is typically an hour before sunset. If you can’t take your portraits during the golden hour, don’t worry!
You can still get beautiful photos during other times of the day. Just be aware that the light will be harsher and more direct during midday.
5. Consider Using Flash
If you are taking portraits during the golden hour, you may not need to use flash. However, if you are taking portraits during other times of the day, you may want to consider using flash.
Using flash will help to fill in any shadows that may be cast on your subjects’ faces. It will also help to add a bit of light to the scene, which can be helpful if you are taking portraits in an area that is not well-lit.
If you decide to use flash, make sure to use a diffuser so that the light is softened and not too harsh.
The key light is the main light and should be placed in front of your subjects. The fill light is placed to the side of your subjects and is used to fill in any shadows that may be cast by the key light. The backlight is placed behind your subjects and is used to add a bit of separation between your subjects and the background.
Consider which placement you want your flash to be depending on the source of key light which in this case is most likely the sun.
6. Timing the Photo
When taking beach portraits, timing is everything. You’ll need to take into account the tide, the waves, and the wind.
The tide is the rise and fall of the water level in the ocean. The waves are created by the wind blowing across the surface of the water. The best time to take beach portraits is when there is no tide and the waves are calm.
If you want to take photos of your subjects with the waves crashing in the background, you’ll need to time your photo so that the wave is about to crash.
If you time it too early, the wave will be too far away from your subjects. If you time it too late, your subjects will be too close to the wave and may get wet.
The same goes for taking photos of your subjects with the wind blowing in their hair. You’ll need to time your photo so that the wind is blowing at just the right moment.
If you time it too early, the wind will not have enough time to blow their hair into place. If you time it too late, their hair will be blowing all over the place and may obscure their face.
7. Try Capturing Silhouettes
One of the most beautiful and artistic ways to take beach portraits is to capture silhouettes. This is when your subjects are backlit by the sun and their bodies are dark against the bright background.
To take a silhouette photo, you’ll need to position your subjects so that they are facing the sun.
You can also use flash to help illuminate your subjects’ faces while keeping their bodies in silhouette.
8. Keep an Eye on the Background
When taking beach portraits, it’s important to keep an eye on the background. The last thing you want is for your beautiful photo to be ruined by a distracting background.
If there are people walking by, make sure they are not in your frame. If there are buildings or other objects in the background, make sure they are not too close to your subjects.
The best way to avoid a distracting background is to position your subjects so that they are far away from the background. This will help to ensure that the background is out of focus and not too distracting.
9. Use a Wide Aperture
When taking beach portraits, you’ll want to use a wide aperture so that your subjects are in focus and the background is out of focus. This will help to create a beautiful, dreamy look.
To use a wide aperture, you’ll need to set your camera to aperture priority mode. Then, choose a wide aperture such as f/2.8 or f/4.
If you’re not sure how to set your camera to aperture priority mode, consult your camera’s manual.
10. Choose the Right Lens
When taking beach portraits, you’ll want to choose a lens that will allow you to capture a wide angle of view. This will help to ensure that you can get your subjects and the background in the frame.
A good lens for beach portraits is a wide-angle lens such as a 24-70mm lens.
If you don’t have a wide-angle lens, you can also use a zoom lens set to its widest setting.
11. Take Multiple Shots
When taking beach portraits, it’s always a good idea to take multiple shots. This will help to ensure that you get at least one photo that you’re happy with.
Try taking a few photos of your subjects from different angles and with different expressions. Then, choose the best photo to keep.
12. Straight Horizon Line
When taking photos at the beach, it’s important to keep the horizon line straight.
This can be tricky, especially if you’re taking photos of people in the water.
To straighten the horizon line, simply use the rule of thirds. Draw an imaginary line through your frame. Make sure the horizon is parallel with the horizontal line.
This will help to ensure that your photo is nicely balanced.
13. Try a Polarizing Filter
If you want to reduce the glare and capture more saturated colors, try using a polarizing filter.
This type of filter attaches to the front of your lens and helps to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens.
Polarizing filters are especially useful for taking photos of the water. They can help to reduce the glare from the sun and make the colors in the water pop.
If you don’t have a polarizing filter, you can also try holding your hand over the lens to reduce the amount of light that enters the lens.
14. Edit Your Photos
After you’ve taken your beach portraits, it’s important to edit your photos to make them look their best.
There are a few things you can do to edit your photos. First, you can adjust the white balance to make sure the colors in your photo look natural.
Second, you can increase the contrast to make the colors pop. Third, you can add a vignette to help create a more dreamy look.
Finally, don’t forget to share your beautiful beach portraits with your friends and family!
15. Have Fun and Go With the Flow
When taking beach portraits, it’s important to have fun and go with the flow. Things will never go according to plan, so just relax and enjoy the process.
Don’t worry if your subjects get wet or if they start to play in the sand. These moments will add personality to your photos and make them even more special.
What is a Beach Portrait?
A beach portrait is a type of photograph that is taken of a person or group of people against the backdrop of a beach.
Beach portraits are typically taken by professional photographers, but they can also be taken by amateurs.
The most important thing to remember when taking a beach portrait is to make sure that the subject(s) is well-lit. The best way to achieve this is to use natural light, such as the light from the sun.
Another way to achieve this is to use artificial lighting, such as flashlights or strobes.
Beach portraits can be taken in many different ways, but the most common way is to have the subject(s) stand in front of the ocean.
Other popular locations for beach portraits include sand dunes, cliffs, and beaches with interesting rock formations.
In conclusion, these are beach portrait photography tips to help you take beautiful photos. Just remember to have fun and go with the flow. And, don’t forget to edit your photos to make them look their best.
This article is also a part of our Portrait Photography Resources, so be sure to check that out for more portrait photography tips.
Frequently Asked Questions
What camera settings are best for beach portraits?
For beach portraits, it’s recommended to use a wide aperture (low f-number) to create a shallow depth of field and achieve a pleasing background blur. Additionally, adjust the white balance to accommodate the natural lighting conditions and capture the vibrant colors of the beach environment.
What colors to wear for beach portraits?
When choosing colors to wear for beach portraits, opt for soft, pastel tones that complement the natural beach setting. Light blues, greens, sandy neutrals, and soft pinks often work well, as they harmonize with the beachscape and create a cohesive and serene look.
What is the best time of day to take beach portraits?
The best time of day to take beach portraits is during the golden hour, which is the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset. The soft, warm light during this time creates a flattering and ethereal atmosphere, enhances skin tones, and adds a beautiful glow to the beach and surroundings.
Nate Torres is a portrait photographer servicing the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. He specializes in portraits of individuals, couples, groups and headshots. Nate Torres is also a photography writer and content creator and educates other photographers on portrait photography, composition, editing, gear, and business. You can find his content on his personal website, social media, and YouTube Channel, as well as on blogs such as Fstoppers, Photofocus, and Imaginated. Being a former SEO consultant, Nate also teaches other photographers how to use SEO to grow their own photography business on his educational blog, Shutter SEO.