(Image edited with presets from Salted Evolution Lightroom Preset Collection)
Discover the endless possibilities for stunning beach photography! From the vibrant summer season to the serene off-season, the beach provides a captivating backdrop for capturing unforgettable moments.
In this article, we’ve curated the Top 15 Beach Photo Ideas to ignite your creativity. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or simply aiming to capture fantastic vacation snapshots, these ideas will inspire and elevate your beach photography game.
But that’s not all. We also share our Top 9 Pro Tips and Tricks to Capture Better Beach Pictures, including valuable advice on camera gear, what to wear, posing ideas, editing tips, and more!
If you are ready, let’s dive right in:
Top 15 Beach Photography Ideas
Are you tired of all your beach pictures looking like everyone else’s tourist snapshots? Don’t worry. Our Top 15 Beach Photo Ideas will spark your creativity and revitalize your images!
1. Explore Portrait Photography
Unleash the captivating power of the beach as a backdrop to create stunning and beautiful portraits.
The beach offers an ideal setting that lends itself perfectly to a variety of portrait styles. Whether you’re aiming to capture the playful energy of a family, the intimate romance of a couple, or the individuality of a solo subject, the beach’s natural beauty will enhance your subjects and elevate your photographs to new heights.
Explore different poses, angles, and compositions to create unique and visually captivating images that showcase the personality and essence of your subjects. Encourage natural interactions and genuine expressions, capturing the joy, love, and individuality that thrives in the beach environment.
(Image courtesy Amanda Christine Photography. Edited with presets from Salted Evolution Lightroom Preset Collection)
2. Photograph a Silhouette
Silhouette photography possesses a captivating beauty – whether you’re capturing a person, a group, or an intriguing object.
The open beach landscape provides an ideal setting to create stunning silhouette photos. During the golden hours around sunrise and sunset, when the sun hovers near the horizon, its gentle light lends itself to illuminating subjects from behind. This creates a mesmerizing contrast against the backdrop of the sky, which often boasts vibrant hues and a breathtaking display of colors.
To achieve a captivating silhouette photograph, it’s crucial to adjust your camera settings to expose for the sky properly, ensuring its vibrant colors and intricate details are beautifully captured. As a result, the subject in the foreground will appear underexposed, creating a distinct and captivating silhouette.
3. Capture the Perfect Splash
When it comes to beach photography, there’s nothing quite like capturing an exhilarating splash in the ocean. Whether it’s people joyfully jumping in, kids playfully splashing each other, or the mesmerizing effect of a hair splash, these moments are guaranteed to grab attention.
To successfully capture these dynamic shots, utilizing a very fast shutter speed is crucial. This will ensure your subjects appear sharp and well-defined in the frame.
If you’re aiming to freeze individual water droplets, a high shutter speed is the way to go. However, some photographers prefer a touch of motion blur in the water as long as the main subject remains crisp. The choice is yours, and you can experiment with different shutter speeds to achieve the desired effect.
To maximize your chances of capturing the perfect moment, consider utilizing burst mode. This handy feature lets your camera continuously capture shots as long as you hold down the shutter button, increasing your chances of photographing the ideal beach splash.
4. Shoot Under a Pier
The timeless allure of photographing beneath a pier is undeniable in beach photography. Piers not only offer respite from the sun with their comforting shade but also present interesting lines and texture elements that enhance your composition’s visual impact.
To create striking images, consider experimenting with the placement of your subjects at different points underneath the pier. By strategically positioning them, you can accentuate the captivating lines and shapes the pier offers, adding depth and interest to your composition.
To capture a more dynamic perspective, try lowering your camera angle and getting closer to the ground. This approach allows you to incorporate the architectural elements of the pier while infusing your photograph with a sense of energy and intrigue.
5. Utilize a Beach Umbrella
When the sun is high in the sky during a beach outing, a beach umbrella can provide a creative solution for capturing appealing photographs. Positioning your subjects under the umbrella offers a unique opportunity to utilize its function as a light diffuser.
By placing your subjects in the shaded area beneath the umbrella, you can soften the harsh sunlight and create a more flattering and evenly lit environment. The umbrella acts as a natural diffuser, allowing soft light to fall on your subjects while maintaining the brightness of the surrounding beach scene.
This technique not only helps to eliminate harsh shadows and reduce the contrast in your photos but also adds an element of interest to your composition. The juxtaposition of the shaded area under the umbrella with the vibrant and sunlit backdrop of the beach can create a visually appealing contrast.
6. Embrace Candid Photos
While a well-posed portrait can be a hit, candid photos can capture raw emotions even more profoundly.
A spontaneous laugh, an unplanned interaction, or a fleeting moment of genuine expression can beautifully convey the depth of relationships or the true essence of a subject’s personality.
Candid photos often occur when the person is unaware of the camera’s presence. However, it’s also possible to intentionally capture these authentic moments during a photoshoot.
By keeping your eyes open and having your camera ready, you can seize these precious instances that unfold between poses or during breaks. These candid shots have the power to immortalize the genuine and unfiltered moments that make beach photography truly special.
7. Try Long Exposure Photography
Long exposure photography is a technique that involves using slow shutter speeds, and in beach photography, this method is often employed to capture the graceful movement of waves.
By extending the duration of the shutter speed, you can transform crashing waves into ethereal, silk-smooth patterns. Additionally, long exposure can lend a dreamy quality to clouds, adding an extra touch of enchantment to your beach pictures.
To achieve the best results, use a tripod to keep your camera steady and a remote shutter to minimize unwanted camera shake. And if there is too much light, you may need a Neutral Density Filter to help control the amount of light entering the camera and achieve the desired exposure.
8. Use the Panning Technique
Within the realm of long exposure photography exists a captivating technique known as panning. This technique involves moving your camera horizontally or vertically while the shutter remains open, resulting in unique and dynamic images.
When capturing a moving subject, such as a speed boat gliding through the waves or a jogger along the shoreline, panning allows you to track the subject’s motion, keeping it sharp while blurring the background. This creates a sense of movement and energy, resulting in a more dynamic image.
Panning at the beach offers even more possibilities. You can explore a variant of this technique by skipping the subject altogether. Instead, focus on panning along the seaside, capturing the rhythmic patterns and abstract forms created by the ebb and flow of the waves. These abstract images can evoke a sense of tranquility and evoke the essence of the beach in a unique way.
9. Find a Still Life Subject
When considering beach photography, still-life images may not be the first thing that comes to mind.
Nevertheless, there are numerous opportunities to explore still photography there. One approach is to seek out intriguing arrangements of objects.
These objects could be natural, such as seashells left behind by the high tide, or man-made, like a beautiful sculpture.
Alternatively, you can create your own arrangement for still-life photography. Constructing a sandcastle and thoughtfully placing tools and buckets nearby is just one example of the possibilities.
10. Try Flat Lay Photos
Beach-themed flat-lay photography is a captivating branch of still life. The concept remains the same: capturing objects arranged in an aesthetically pleasing composition.
However, with flat-lay photography, you arrange these objects on a flat surface and photograph them from a top-down perspective.
What sets beach flat-lays apart is the inclusion of distinct beach elements like seashells, sunglasses, sunscreen, and beach towels. These objects can be artfully arranged to create visually appealing compositions that evoke a sense of beach vibes and relaxation.
To add a human element to your beach flat lays, you can include hands or feet in the composition. This can create a dynamic and engaging visual narrative, allowing viewers to imagine themselves immersed in the beach atmosphere.
11. Go Underwater
You might think that underwater photography is reserved for scuba divers, but there are ways to explore this captivating realm without extensive training. You can start with more accessible options.
One approach to underwater photography is snorkeling. This allows you to immerse yourself underwater while staying closer to the surface. You can discover mesmerizing coral reefs teeming with diverse marine life, providing ample opportunities for stunning underwater shots.
If you prefer to stay dry, an underwater drone can be a fantastic tool. It allows you to capture underwater scenes and wildlife from the comfort of land. Don’t limit yourself to wildlife photography, though, as underwater portraits can be incredibly striking and offer a unique perspective.
Whichever method you choose, underwater photography opens up a world of beauty and intrigue beneath the waves, waiting to be captured through your lens.
12. Take Photos from Above
When we think about the beach, our thoughts naturally gravitate toward the vast ocean in front of us. However, it’s important to remember that a wide open space is also above us, presenting an additional opportunity to showcase your photography skills.
By utilizing a drone, you can capture breathtaking aerial photographs. With the freedom of flight, you can explore unique perspectives, capture stunning vistas, and reveal the beauty of the beach from above. Whether you want to capture the coastline, the interplay of waves, or the patterns formed by the sand, aerial photography allows you to showcase the beach in a new light.
For the more adventurous individuals, engaging in action sports such as paragliding can offer an exhilarating way to capture aerial imagery. Equipped with an action camera, you can document your own thrilling experiences while simultaneously capturing the magnificent beach scenery from above.
13. Capture the Beauty of the Beach in the Winter
While most of us associate the beach with vibrant summer scenes, filled with warm colors and lively beachgoers, the beach offers a captivating and often overlooked atmosphere during the winter.
During wintertime, the beach takes on a unique charm. The direction of light shifts, casting a different glow and altering the tones of the landscape, resulting in a mesmerizing bluish hue. This change in lighting creates a distinct and ethereal ambiance, offering a fresh perspective for photography enthusiasts.
The tides also exhibit different heights and rhythms, creating ever-changing patterns and textures along the shoreline. The tranquility of the off-season allows for peaceful moments of solitude, providing ample opportunity to capture the serene beauty of the seascape.
Don’t miss out on the remarkable photo opportunities that the wintertime beach presents. Embrace the quieter moments, immerse yourself in the cool tones, and discover the captivating allure of the off-season seascape through your lens.
14. Photograph the Beach at Night
Exploring the tranquil beauty of the beach doesn’t have to be limited to daylight hours. In fact, capturing the beach at night can yield breathtaking results, regardless of the season, as long as you have the gentle illumination of moonlight.
Nighttime beach photography opens up a world of possibilities, including the opportunity to delve into long-exposure astrophotography. The vast expanse of the beach offers a favorable environment with reduced light pollution compared to urban areas, allowing you to capture the enchanting wonders of the night sky.
However, it is crucial to prioritize safety when venturing out at night. Remember that the coastal environment can pose additional risks after sunset. Tides can swiftly change, and the terrain may become slippery and unpredictable. Therefore, always prioritize your safety above any photograph, no matter how enticing the potential image may be.
15. Make a Photo Series
Embarking on a photo series can be a rewarding endeavor that pushes the boundaries of your beach photography skills. Unlike working with individual images, a photo series requires a unique set of abilities to plan, execute, and bring together a cohesive collection of photographs.
One captivating approach to a photo series is to explore the element of time. By capturing the same subject or scene at various times of the day or throughout different seasons, you can witness the transformative power of natural light and deepen your understanding of its impact on beach photography.
Alternatively, you can immerse yourself in storytelling through fictional narratives or documentary-style projects. The beauty of a photo series lies in the freedom to choose a theme or concept that resonates with your interests and sparks your creativity.
To ensure the success of your photo series, careful planning, thorough research, and a consistent approach are crucial. Develop a clear structure and outline for your project, allowing it to unfold and evolve deliberately and purposefully.
Top 9 Tips for Better Beach Photos
Whether you’re a seasoned photographer or a beginner looking to improve your skills, these expert tips will help elevate your beach photography to new heights.
1. Choose the Right Camera Settings
In general, the ideal camera settings for all photos depend more on what you want to achieve for your image than the location where you shoot.
However, when shooting at the beach during the daytime, you want to set your camera’s ISO to 100 (to compensate for the bright sunlight). On the other hand, if you shoot in low light, set your ISO as low as possible to avoid producing noise in your pictures.
- To capture landscape beach photos with a sharp focus throughout the entire scene, it is recommended to maintain an aperture setting of f/8 or f/11. This aperture range will ensure that everything in the photograph remains focused.
- On the other hand, if you are taking portraits at the beach, use a smaller aperture – such as f/2.8 to blur the background and produce some nice creamy bokeh.
- Utilizing a slower shutter speed can effectively capture motion blur, giving your photographs a strong impression of speed.
- Alternatively, opting for a fast shutter speed, specifically above 1/250, can freeze most moving subjects, resulting in crisp and sharp images.
2. Protect Your Gear
While you don’t need a special camera or gear to take great pictures at the beach, a DSLR or a mirrorless camera will give you greater creative freedom and the ability to produce higher-quality images.
Irrespective of the focal length, having a good lens is essential. Additionally, using a tripod can be beneficial when shooting in low-light situations, assist with advanced techniques like focus stacking, and allow you to shoot self-portraits.
If you decide to invest in any of this gear, it’s essential to take precautions and prevent damage from environmental conditions at the beach. Here are some tips to ensure the safety of your camera equipment:
- Avoid changing lenses on location.
- Carry a microfiber cloth to clean and dry your hands before touching the camera.
- Utilize a small dust blower to remove any sand particles.
- Keep your gear stored in a waterproof camera bag.
- Avoid leaving your camera gear or bag directly exposed to the sun for an extended period of time.
- Consider using a UV filter to protect your lens. This filter won’t affect the exposure but will provide added safety against scratches.
3. Use a Graduated Neutral Density Filter
In beach photography, a common challenge arises when dealing with the stark contrast between a bright sky and a darker foreground, making it impossible to find the perfect exposure for both situations.
To address this challenge, you can employ a technique called exposure blending in post-processing. By capturing multiple photos—one properly exposed for the bright sky and another properly exposed for the darker foreground—you can combine them to achieve a balanced result. Additionally, if you shoot in RAW format, you can adjust the exposure during editing to recover details.
But is there a way to resolve this issue directly in-camera?
Indeed, there is a solution: using a graduated neutral density (ND) filter.
A graduated ND filter is designed to reduce the exposure by several stops on one half of the filter while keeping the other half unaffected, creating a smooth transition between the two halves. This enables you to compensate for the contrast between the sky and the foreground in a single shot, eliminating the need for extensive post-processing.
4. Use a Circular Polarizing Filter
A circular polarizing (CPL) filter can be a valuable tool in beach photography. It will eliminate or significantly reduce water glare commonly encountered in such environments.
Using a CPL filter is straightforward. Just screw it onto your lens and rotate it until the glare disappears or diminishes to a minimal amount.
It’s important to note that a CPL filter may slightly increase the exposure by one or two stops. To compensate for this, you can adjust your camera settings accordingly.
5. Choose the Best Time of Day to Shoot
Different times of the day present varying opportunities and challenges for beach photography.
You may have heard about the “golden hour” (the hour just before sunset) when the sunlight has a soft, warm, and golden quality, which photographers highly regard.
Indeed, the golden hour is an exceptional time of day for beach photography. It provides soft, flattering light for portrait images and infuses landscape photos with a beautiful warm tone.
If you desire a more dramatic sky, golden hour is also the perfect time to encounter a beautiful sunset. The sky often exhibits vibrant colors during this time, especially when the clouds are scattered.
It’s also worth exploring other times of the day to experiment with the interplay of shadows, especially when shooting during the summer or under intense sunlight. This can lead to some very creative and intriguing compositions.
6. Try Different Composition Rules
Composition is one of the most powerful tools for communicating with viewers and guiding their visual experience through your image.
Many photographers begin by employing the rule of thirds, a widely recognized and popular composition guideline. Most cameras even provide an overlay to assist in applying this technique to your images.
However, if you truly wish to make your beach images stand out and captivate viewers, it’s worth exploring and experimenting with various other composition techniques.
There is an abundance of composition ideas that you can incorporate. For instance, you can utilize a reflection on the water to create a symmetrical photo. Alternatively, you can introduce an element in the foreground to break the symmetry and add interest.
Embrace the spirit of experimentation and try out different ideas to determine which ones work best for your images. Remember that composition can also be fine-tuned using the crop tool in editing programs like Lightroom and others, allowing for further refinement and enhancement of your composition.
7. Editing Beach Photos
When it comes to editing beach pictures, there are several techniques and adjustments you can apply to enhance the overall quality and bring out the best in your images. Here are some steps to consider:
- Adjust White Balance to correct any color casts and ensure accurate colors.
- Enhance Exposure to balance the overall brightness and darkness in the image.
- Adjust the Contrast to make the colors and details pop.
- Adjust Saturation and Vibrance to enhance the colors in your image.
- Crop and Straighten to refine the composition of your beach photos.
- Remove Distractions: Use the spot healing tool or clone stamp tool to remove any unwanted objects or distractions.
- Apply Presets: Experiment with presets to achieve a specific mood or style in your beach photos. Vibrant & colorful, warm & creamy, and light & airy are three very popular beach picture aesthetics that can be achieved effortlessly using Lightroom presets. Personally, I love to use presets from the Salted Evolution Preset Collection to edit my beach photos. It includes an array of fantastic presets that cover all of those styles. You can check it out here.
Check out this informative blog post on Editing Beach Photos in Lightroom for a more in-depth tutorial and additional tips!
(Image edited with presets from Salted Evolution Lightroom Preset Collection)
8. What to Wear for Beach Photos
When deciding on what to wear to a beach photoshoot for yourself or offering advice to clients, here are some helpful suggestions:
White attire is an excellent choice as it complements the beach environment seamlessly and tends to be flattering for sun-tanned skin. White is also neutral, allowing you to coordinate it with accessories in any color effortlessly.
If you feel that white is too subtle, don’t hesitate to go for brighter colors. These vibrant hues will make your subjects stand out and evoke a sense of summer fun.
When photographing a couple or a group, creating a coordinated color palette can be a great approach. This way, everyone can mix and match colors while maintaining a harmonious look.
Regardless of the color chosen, prioritize comfortable clothing that appears natural. Flowy fabrics like cotton and linen are excellent choices as they gracefully move with the ocean breeze, adding a touch of elegance to the photoshoot.
And remember, being at the beach should allow for some skin to be shown. Embrace this freedom while being mindful of tan lines, which can be distracting.
(Image courtesy Amanda Christine Photography. Edited with presets from Salted Evolution Lightroom Preset Collection)
9. Posing at the Beach
When it comes to posing for beach photos, incorporating the water is a must and can add the perfect touch to your images. You can have your models walking along the shore, catching a wave, or playfully splashing each other. The choice of poses will depend on the desired mood and atmosphere of the photo.
If you or your models prefer to stay dry, here are some suggested poses suitable for women, men, couples, and groups.
Beach Poses for Women
Sitting Pose: In a sitting pose, have your subject position herself with one leg flexed and the other leg extended. Pointing the toes will contribute to elongating the leg, resulting in a graceful and elegant look.
Arching Back Pose: Have your subject pose while curving her back. This can be achieved while lying on the sand or standing against a wall. It adds a touch of sophistication and grace to her posture.
Embrace Movement: Take advantage of the beach location by incorporating movement into your poses. Allow the breeze to catch her dress or wrap, letting it flow naturally to create a sense of ethereal beauty. You can also have her bring her hands up and play with her hair to add a dynamic element to the composition.
For more female posing tips, check out this blog post: 15 Poses For Women!
Beach Poses for Men
Standing Pose: Have your subject place one or both hands in their pockets, allowing for a casual and relaxed look. Shifting their weight onto one leg while keeping the other slightly bent will create a dynamic and natural stance that exudes confidence.
Shoulder Turned Sitting Pose: Have your subject sit facing the ocean and turn their upper body, looking over their shoulder to make eye contact with the camera. This pose adds an element of intrigue and engagement, capturing the viewer’s attention and establishing a connection with the subject.
Prop Incorporation: Your subject can experiment with props such as sunglasses to enhance their poses. They can hold the sunglasses or playfully rest them on their head or face. This provides an engaging activity for the hands and adds a stylish and playful touch to the composition, elevating the visual appeal of the photograph.
For more male posing tips, check out this blog post: 15 Poses for Men.
Poses for Couples
Playful Piggyback Pose: To capture the playful nature of the couple, have them engage in a piggyback pose. The partner can hop on the other’s back while both share genuine smiles and laughter, creating a lighthearted and fun atmosphere.
Dynamic Action Shots: Encourage the couple to participate in various activities that reflect their interests and hobbies. Whether playing frisbee, throwing a beach ball, or building sandcastles together, these action shots capture their energy and create a sense of movement and excitement.
Romantic Silhouette Pose: Take advantage of the golden hour and the beautiful sunset as a backdrop. Position the couple facing each other, with the setting sun behind them, creating a romantic and enchanting atmosphere. Silhouetting their figures against the vibrant sky adds a touch of elegance and enhances the overall mood of the photograph.
Hand-in-Hand Walk: For a more intimate and romantic shot, have the couple walk hand in hand along the shoreline. Encourage them to engage with each other, exchanging glances and smiles while capturing their natural connection and love for one another.
For more couples posing tips, check out this blog post: Top 10 Couples Photography Poses.
Beach Poses for Groups
Mixed Sitting and Standing Pose: When photographing groups with varying ages and heights, create visual interest by posing some members sitting down and others standing. For instance, have the parents seated while the children stand behind them, forming a cohesive and engaging composition that showcases the family dynamic.
Group Sitting Pose: Opt for a relaxed and cozy setting by having the entire group sit together. Encourage them to gather in a circle or arrange a picnic scene with blankets and snacks, fostering a warm and inviting atmosphere that reflects their bond and togetherness.
Dynamic Formation on Rocks: For a group of friends, seek out an area with interesting rock formations or other natural features that allow for a dynamic arrangement. Guide them to occupy different levels and positions on the rocks, creating a visually captivating composition that highlights their friendship and adventurous spirit.
Action Shots: Inject a sense of energy and spontaneity into the group photos by incorporating action shots. Prompt the group to jump or run out of the ocean towards the camera, capturing their joyful and carefree moments. Encourage them to have fun and engage in playful interactions, resulting in natural-looking pictures that reflect their genuine personalities and camaraderie.
Beach photography is a captivating genre that offers numerous opportunities to capture stunning images and create lasting memories.
By exploring these beach photo ideas, implementing our pro tips and tricks, and experimenting with different styles, you can create breathtaking images that transport viewers to the sun-kissed shores and evoke the joy, serenity, and wonder of the beach experience!
Do you have any questions or comments about our Top 15 Beach Photo Ideas and Tips for Better Beach Photography? Leave us a comment below – we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons (we really appreciate it)!