Tips for Photographing at the Beach

While it’s a little rainy today, a beautiful beach weekend is on it’s way. So grab your camera and have fun snapping pictures of your little ones using some of my tips for successful beach photography.

The Most Flattering Time of Day

You may have heard other photographers say the words “golden hours.”  What are they talking about?  The “golden hours”  are a couple of hours surrounding sunrise and sunset when the light is soft and not creating those harsh shadows that happen closer to noon. So most photographers photograph more towards the beginning and end of the day if possible. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible to photograph in the middle of the day… just a little more challenging because the beach doesn’t have any trees to provide shade and soften the strong rays.  All you need to do is be more aware of the sun’s location (keep reading..I will tell you more) :)

Personally , I like to photograph as close to sunset as possible.  The light is soft, very flattering and because the sun isn’t as harsh I know I won’t “blow out”- lose detail in the background

Spot Metering

But let’s say you are photographing at high noon.  What should you do?

Turn your camera setting to spot metering.  When you point your camera at your child, your camera will now tell you if you are under or overexposed based on the light needed for a correct exposure of their face.  So you can still take beautiful portraits…you just may not capture all of the detail behind them.  But in mu opinion the memory of them eating their first handful of sand is more important than the colors of the sea.

Place the Sun Behind

If it is closer to noon when the sun is harsh here is another tip.  Place the sun behind your subject and a little off to the side.  Go ahead and spot meter off of their face and take a beautiful portrait!  With the sun behind you won’t have to worry about harsh shadows on their face and noone will be squinting from looking into the sun.

P.S. Many times you can simply adjust your position rather than move your subject who may be busy at work on their sandcastle.

Sun Flare

Personally, I love me some sun flare-when the sun peaks it’s way into the frame of my camera and creates little splashes of light or even a small rainbow on the image.  It may take a little practice, but all you have to do is place the sun behind your subject and off to one side and then allow just a peak of the sun to enter into the frame of your camera.  Have fun…it’s unpredictably beautiful.


Everyone loves a smiley picture, but don’t forget the details.  Like their toes in the sand, the little ringlets that form on their neck from the heat of the day, or their work of art-their sandcastle.

Step Back

Once you have those details, take a step back to capture the whole story- your little one, the beach, the sky, etc.

Overcast is Your Friend

We all love the beautiful cloudless beach days, but in terms of photographing overcast is your friend.  Why? Because the clouds soften the light meaning their are no harsh shadows.  You don’t have to worry about losing detail and can easily photograph throughout the entire cloud covered day.

Let Them Be

Don’t forget to capture the story- your child kicking in the waves or snuggling into daddy’s arms all wrapped in a towel.  These are special moments that you will want to remember alongside the smiles.  So let them be. In my opinion…don’t interrupt what is already special by asking them to say cheese.



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