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How to Take Better Photos at the Beach

How to Take Better Photos at the Beach | Plumlee Realty

Beach photography isn’t just for the professionals anymore! You too can capture the quintessential beauty of the beach and the family memories you’re making during your Florida Gulf Coast vacation. With the amazing technology that’s now at your fingertips, it’s really easy to take professional quality photos with just a few clicks. Here’s how to take the best beach photos, whether it’s a family beach vacation or a special occasion. Here’s what you need to know!

Couple Paddling on Water During Sunset | Plumlee Realty

Choose the right lighting.

Golden Hour is a photographer favorite because the colors are soft and dreamy. The golden hour happens right after sunrise and a bit before sunset—but when you shoot at the beach often times it seems as though the days are longer, this is because there typically is not much that is blocking the rays from the sun, so the golden hours actually seem to start earlier and end later. Read more about how to make the most of the Golden Hour and lighting tips here.

Family on the Beach Portrait | Plumlee Realty

Remember that water reflects light.

Since light is easily bounced with water you’ll have to keep in mind that when the light is harsher that this will also be reflected in the water and can bounce the light to create unflattering highlights both on your subject and the surroundings. Keep in mind that if you take beach photography during midday hours, you’ll have to deal with hard light and undesirable shadows (especially on people’s faces)—not to mention being out in the heat. Check out this article on the Clickin’ Moms Blog on how to take the best photos in harsh lighting conditions.

All Things Indian Rocks Beach Pinterest Board | Plumlee Realty

Get creative with your location.

The beach is beautiful in and of itself but get creative by using locations that tell a story and draw the eye toward your subject. Beach paths, sand dunes, piers, fun colored beach houses, jetties, lifeguard stands, and so on draw the viewer into the photo. In Indian Rocks Beach and Indian Shores, Florida, you’ll have plenty of photo ops wherever you go. Location won’t be a problem for you at all! Check out Plumlee Gulf Beach Realty’s All Things Indian Rocks Beach board on Pinterest and get inspired. 

Sunset at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach FL | Plumlee Realty

Avoid crowds.

First, find out what the busiest hours at the beach are and avoid them. Another strategy is to do your beach photography during the off-season. In winter, beaches have a different beauty and vibe than in the summer. Heavy clouds, storms, and currents can paint both the sea and sky in beautiful colors. The shoulder and off seasons on the Gulf Coast are some pretty good opportunities to avoid the crowds and get in some awesome photo sessions. Read more about what the off season on Florida’s Gulf Coast has to offer and consider planning a beach escape today. Don’t forget to bring your camera!

Sunset Sky and Beach |Plumlee Realty

Choose a focal point.

Whether it’s a person or an object, every photo should have a distinct focal point. Even landscapes are centered around a point of focus: the sunset, the waves, the sand, a sailboat in the distance. There are some good tips in this article about how to choose a focal point in landscape photography. It’s obviously a lot easier when you’re taking beach portraits, as your subjects are the focal point. But landscape photography still needs a focal point, so be sure to think about that when framing your shot. (See next point.)

Closeup of Shell on the Beach | Plumlee Realty

Frame your shot & pay attention to the background.

Remember to keep an eye on your background to keep distracting elements out of the frame. Having such a wide open space like the beach will just make these elements appear more noticeable and detract from the overall composition of the photo. Pay attention to the layout of your photo. Be mindful of the horizon line, lighting, balance and composition. We love the beach photography composition tips found here

Bird Flapping Wings on Beach at Sunset | Plumlee Realty

Change your perspective.

Don’t be afraid to play around with your perspective. Try some landscape shots. Try some macro shots. Try including people. Change your angle and see how it changes the photo. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting down low for a new angle or a tilt to your usual horizontal shot. Take a look at these 30 photographs that are taken from unusual angles that make for some great shots and interesting perspective. Play around and get creative! 

Girl Throwing Her Hair Back in the Pool Water | Plumlee Realty

Play with your shutter speed.

Play with your shutter speed to get different effects, especially when shooting the water. Using short shutter speeds, you can freeze the water droplets and the waves. This effect is great for photos of waves crashing and splashing against rocks. On the other hand, you can try long exposures for a soft silky effect in the water. For long exposure photography you will need a tripod to avoid hand shaking and neutral density filters to avoid over exposure of the image. You can read more about how to use your shutter speed creatively and what it can do for your photos. 

Couples Silhouette on the Beach at Sunset | Plumlee Realty

Create Silhouettes

The beach has a lot of open spaces, which makes it a great place to take backlight photos. You can try backlight at any moment of the day, but it is easier to start when the sun is close to the horizon. To create a silhouette shot, you need to place your subject between your camera and the light source ( in this case the sun). Then you set the exposure according to the lighter part of the scene (the background). The subject will then remain dark, creating the silhouette effect. You can also adjust the exposure to lighten your subject a little and bring back some details. Here are 7 easy steps on how to photograph silhouettes

Family Photo on the Beach | Plumlee Realty

Try Family Beach Photography

The beach is a perfect background for any type of portrait. It provides the ideal setting that makes people feel relaxed and playful. Kids can run and play in the sand and you’ll be able to capture these joyful unscripted moments. Adults also get more playful at the beach, too. Take the opportunity to capture these treasured moments. If the weather is good, you can take photos playing or walking in the water. If you stay in the shallow waters, you can also go in a little (just be sure to protect your camera from the water) and take photos from this perspective. Check out these additional helpful family beach portrait tips and tricks

Person Adjusting Digital Camera Settings | Plumlee Realty

Experiment with your camera settings.

Get to know your camera or phone camera settings better by experimenting with what you have. Whatever model of device you’re using, a quick internet search can give you the tips and tricks you need to get to know your photo options better. Watch a tutorial. Read your camera manual. Most importantly, just get familiar with what you have to work with. If you’re using a digital camera, you should start by getting to know how to use the Manual Mode and experiment with the different effects and settings you can control. Read up on how to get started with manual mode and how to choose your settings here. 

Photo Editing Apps on Mobile Devices | Plumlee Realty

Explore photo editing apps.

Even the best photos can be edited to be even better. No matter what your editing needs may be, rest assured there’s an app for that. Try a few and see what they can do for you and your photos. We love the tried and true favorites: Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, Color Story, and VSCO, but there are so many options out there that you’re sure to find at least a few that meet your editing needs. If you need some additional guidance, check out these 45 best photo apps and photo editing software for 2018. Take your photos to the next level!

Watch More Quick Beach Photography Tips Here

This video is pretty short and sweet but offers some gems of insight when trying to capture the essence of the beach in your photography. It shows you how to photograph the whitest of sugar sands, the bluest blues and the gorgeous verdant greens that you’ll want to capture during your Florida Gulf Coast beach vacation. Check it out!

What’s your best beach photo tip?

We’d love to hear it! Our comment section is always open.

How to Take Better Photos at the Beach | Plumlee Realty

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