Take better beach photos

Top tips for better beach photos

We’re lucky enough to live close to the beach here in Swansea, so we can head down for a walk and a play (and a swim when it’s warm enough!) pretty much any time we want.

The beach also happens to be one of my favourite places to take photos of my family.  So a lot of the time my camera comes along with us on our beach trips, and I’ve learnt a fair bit about getting better beach photos over the years.

Whether you live by the coast like us and visit the beach a lot, or are about to head off on a summer break to the seaside, these tips for better beach photos will hopefully help you take pictures there that you’ll absolutely love.

 

Pay attention to the sun

Getting the lighting right is key to taking better photos, and on the beach this can be harder to achieve than in other places.

There isn’t normally much shade to work with, so you’ll often by trying to take pictures in really bright sunlight.

The first thing you need to do is pay attention to where the sun is in the sky.  If you’re taking photos with the sun directly behind your subject you’ll have to deal with possible lens flares as well as the people being almost silhouetted with the bright sun behind them.

You can work around these issues with a lens hood (or just holding your hand above the lens to create the same effect) and by exposing for your subjects rather than the sky behind them.

 

Freeze the action

If your children are anything like mine then they’ll be busy at the beach.

Our trips generally involve a lot of running and jumping and splashing and digging.

All this activity can make for beautifully natural photos as you can snap away while they’re occupied instead of getting stiff, posed photos.  You do need to pay attention to your camera settings though, to make sure you don’t end up with blurry photos as your children run around.

If you’re shooting in auto mode then the camera should take care of this for you, but if you want full control of your images then switch to manual mode and use a nice high shutter speed to freeze the action.

 

Get down low

When you’re taking photos of your children at the beach, don’t always shoot from your eye level.

Make sure to move around and mix things up a bit.

I love to sit or crouch down on the sand to take pictures of my kids playing, it tells a bit more of the story and brings you into their world that bit more.

 

Head to the beach all year round

Don’t feel that you can only get good beach photos on summer days with blue skies and turquoise seas.

Some of my favourite photos from the beach have been taken on grey and slightly wild days.

I love the contrast of either dark or bold coloured clothing against the washed out, dull sky and the wind creates a lovely sense of movement as it blows their hair and throws spray from the waves into the air.

 

Photograph beachy details

The main focus of your photos will probably be your family, but take a bit of time to look around for other interesting seaside-y details to photograph.

Thing about the different things that represent beach trips and seaside holidays to you, and capture those things too.

It might be beach huts and stripy deckchairs.  Or maybe brightly coloured buckets and spades on the sand.  Or it could be little hands holding on to melting ice creams.

My children have always loved picking up shells on the beach, so I have quite a few photos of their hands overflowing with their collections, or them holding one special shell or stone out for the camera so we’ll remember it forever.

 

Pick seaside colours

If you know you’ll want to take photos of your children at the beach, then think about dressing them in seaside colours for the day.

I don’t do this very often but now and then I’ll steer them towards blues and whites, and sometimes reds, for a trip to the beach and I love how those photos come out.

 

Think about composition

Finishing on a more technical note, take a bit of time thinking about the composition of your photos before you start snapping away.

I love photos like the one above of Nerys where she is right in the middle of the frame, with a nice clear background behind her.  It’s a classic portrait with the focus entirely on her.

There are so many opportunities for more interesting photo compositions at the beach though.

Think about using the rule of thirds, placing your subject and the horizon on these imaginary grid-lines.  You can also play around with leading lines in your beach photos, and change your composition by changing your perspective and shooting from above and below.

 

Hopefully these tips will help you take amazing photos next time you head to the beach with your family.

Just make sure that you pass the camera to someone or set a timer so you can get in some of the pictures too!

Photograph the everyday moments

Photograph the normal moments too

On the 10th of every month I take 10 photos.  10 photos that capture life as it is on that day.

Some months it feels like a struggle.  It seems like there’s nothing ‘worth’ photographing about that particular day.

That day is nothing special.  There’s nothing about it that’s different than the day before.  The routine is the same as it was the day before and the same as it will be the day after.

But that is exactly why it’s worth photographing.

Because who knows when the day will come that looks completely different from this one.  So every month I push through that struggle and take 10 photos.

Photos of our routine, mundane, everyday life.  Photos that a year from now I’ll be so grateful that I took because of how much has changed.

I think so often we focus on photographing the big moments.  The special ones.  The pretty ones.

We take photos that will look good on Instagram.

We hide the clutter and mess and realness.

We edit the life out of our photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I do it too, and I won’t be stopping any time soon.

I love the posed photos in front of birthday cakes.  The first-day-back-at-school pictures by the front door.  The highlight reels from our days at the beach and the park.

These photos make me happy.

These moments are worth recording.  These photos will make me smile so much in the future.

 

The thing is, life is so much more than the highlights.

The milestones.

The main events.

What I want to make a point to record is all the in-between moments.

The mundane, everyday routines that we almost stop noticing because they’re so mundane and routine.

Those times that, when we’re in them, feel like they’ll last forever.  And then they’re gone.

These are the photographs we’ll be really grateful for when we’re older.

 

Photos like this one of Nerys reading to Steve in bed.

When our children are little it feels like we’ll always be in that bed, reading the same stories over and over and over again.  Then they get a bit bigger and start reading out loud to us.  And it feels like this is the way it’ll always be.

Then they get older again and don’t need us as much any more.  They happily read to themselves in bed.

It happens so slowly, you don’t notice things changing.  Then one day you realise that you can’t remember the last time they curled up next to you, to read their book aloud with you by their side to help them sound out the tricky words.

That’s when photos like this take on a new importance.

One day we’ll find this photo again and all the memories will come flooding back.

How Nerys’ reading suddenly took off during lockdown, when we found a few of these Fairy Animal books amongst a pile of books someone had left outside their home for passers-by to take.

How she used a little post-it to mark, not only her page, but her place on the page when she had finished reading each day.

The way she would steal my spot in bed in the mornings, to read with her dad, during those slow mornings when we weren’t in a rush to get out the door for school.

 

It’s the same with the school run routine.

Day in day out, week after week, it’s the same.

Well, it was the same.

For years we did the same thing, walked the same path, saw the same people, followed the same routine.

It’s such a regular part of family life, for such a long time, that you don’t really think to photograph it.  It feels so boring.  So mundane.  So un-photoworthy.

But when you actually stop and look at the little details of that routine, there’s so much to document.

Like, we have a little ritual of sorts when we say goodbye to each other.

After a hug and kiss we’ll make a heart with our hands, blow a kiss and wave.  At school drop off last year Nerys and I would do this through her classroom window to each other.

It was only on the last day before the schools closed that I thought to photograph it.

 

Even now, just a few months later, I am so pleased that I took this photo.

So much has changed since I took it.

At the moment the children are due to be going back to school in a few weeks, but it won’t be the ‘normal’ routine when they do.  I won’t be able to hang around the classroom, making sure the children are settled before leaving.  I’ll have to move along, out of the way of other parents, instead of waving and blowing kisses and making heart shapes through the window.

Something that we did so many times over the last year is already just a memory.

 

So here’s my advice.

Take a bit of time and look around your life.

Think about the routines and rhythms of your day.

Find the things that you do so often that they feel boring and humdrum.

These are the things to photograph.

I know it might not feel like it when you’re in the trenches of round the clock feeding with a newborn, or chasing a toddler round the park for the 10th time that week, but you will look back at these times with a sort of nostalgia when they’re older.

I’m not saying cherish every moment, but I am saying notice them.  And record some of them.

Get someone to take a photo of your feeding your baby, pushing them in the buggy or wearing them in a sling.

Photograph your weekly walk to baby group or the library.

Take pictures of your child feeding the ducks and going down their favourite slide at the park.

 

Right now feels like a particularly important time to record.

And at the same time it’s been a particularly hard time to photograph, in all its groundhog-day-ness.

But if you can take a step back and think about the things that are part of daily life now that won’t be in the future then you’ll find plenty to take photos of.

 

Look beyond the big moments, the milestones, and the main events.

Photograph the in-between.

The slow mornings in pjs.  The socially-distanced meet ups with friends.  The zoom calls with family.

Photograph the highlights, sure, but photograph the normal moments too.

#ShowYouWereThere round up

Show You Were There – July round up

It’s Sunday, it is (somehow!) almost the end of the month, and it’s time for another #ShowYouWereThere round up!

If you’ve not heard of it before it’s my little Instagram community for people to share photos that feature them (or their partners) in some way.  It’s all about getting more parents in more photos, for both them and their children.

 

The first photo I’m sharing from this month is from Sabrina at The Mummy Stylist.

This photo just makes me want to turn the grey skies here to a lovely blue so we can also put on sunhats and head out for a picnic!

 

My next pick is this lovely smiley photo from Jaymee at The Mum Diaries.

It sounds like her family have got a fab summer planned, full of camping adventures!

 

Next up is this photo that I really love from Nicola at Mummy to Dex.

There’s just something about photos taken from behind that I really love, especially when it’s of little ones holding hands with people.

 

Last but not least for this month is this photo that really made me smile from Kim at OddHogg.

I think her caption sums up how a lot of us parents have been feeling lately, that when our children go back to school/childcare we’ll miss having them around loads, but those moments when you realise you can go to the toilet in peace will be bliss!

 

Thank you so much to everyone who tags their photos #ShowYouWereThere over on Instagram, it makes me so happy seeing people getting in front of the camera more.

 

Now my turn.

Actually, it’s my husband and my father-in-law’s turn this month.

I took this photo of the two of them with Nerys in the woods this weekend, and I love it so much.  I told you I was a fan of photos taken from behind didn’t I!

 

If you’d like to join in with my little community then all you need to do is share a photo over on Instagram that features you in some way and use #ShowYouWereThere with it.

Hope to see you over there soon!

#ShowYouWereThere round up

Show You Were There – June round up

It’s Sunday, it’s the end of the month, and it’s time for another #ShowYouWereThere round up.

In case you’ve not heard of it before, Show You Were There is my little Instagram community all about getting more parents in more photos, both with and for their children.  If you want to get involved then all you need to do is use #ShowYouWereThere on any photos that feature you in some way, I’d love to see more people joining in!

This month I’ve chosen some gorgeous photos that people have shared celebrating Father’s day.

 

My first choice for this month’s round up is from Maria at Suburban Mum.

I love the fun and smiles in this photo, it’s a lovely moment she’s captured.

 

The second photo that I’ve chosen for this month’s round up is this lovely photo from Katy at Katykicker.

I remember having shoulder rides with my dad when I was little, and would love to have a photo like this from those days!

 

Next up is this summery photo from Laura at Dear Bear and Beany.

It’s such a lovely photo and sounds like they had the perfect family day at the beach the day it was taken.

 

My final pick for this month’s round up is this gallery of photos from Kim at OddHogg.

I love all the different moments she chose to share to celebrate Father’s day.

Thank you so much to everyone who is using #ShowYouWereThere, I love seeing your photos popping up over on Instagram, they always make me smile so much.

Now my turn.

Well, in keeping with the theme this month, it’s actually my husband’s turn.

I have so many photos of him and our children taken from behind, and I love this recent addition to my collection, taken on a gloriously sunny day at the beach.

 

If you’d like to join in with my little community then all you need to do is share a photo over on Instagram that features you in some way and use #ShowYouWereThere with it.

It’s all about getting more parents in more photos and I’d love to see as many people as possible jumping in front of the camera more.

Fun photo challenges for kids

5 fun photography challenges for kids

I’ve always loved taking photos, going back to the days of basic point and shoot film cameras and the excitement of waiting weeks for the photos to be developed.

So it makes me really happy when my children get excited about photography too.

Nerys in particular is showing a real interest at the moment, so I’ve been thinking about fun activities we can do to really capture her curiosity and creativity with photography.

If you’d like to encourage your child’s interest in photography too, then here are 5 ideas for fun photography challenges you could do with them.

 

Photo scavenger hunts

This is a great idea for a photography challenge that you can either do at home or out and about in the fresh air.

All you need to do is give your child a list of items to find and then photograph.  You can keep it simple and get them to photograph each item as they find them, or you could get them to be more creative and use different angles and perspectives with each thing they find.

For older children you can use prompts that are more open-ended for things for them to find and photograph.  There are some brilliant ideas for this sort of hunt in this post from Holly Made Life – Lockdown photography treasure hunt.

If you don’t have time to come up with a list of things for your child to find, then try getting them to photograph things that start with each letter of the alphabet.  Or if that’s too many photos, try each letter of their name.

 

Photo walks

A really lovely way to enjoy photography together is to go on a photo walk with your child.

You can keep it simple and challenge them to photograph anything that they find interesting, or pretty, or that simply catches their eye.

Or you can make it a bit harder and try and find things in each colour of the rainbow to photograph.  Or things that are different shapes, or that look like letters or numbers.

 

Making rainbows

This idea from Donna at What the Redhead Said is another creative photo challenge that is great fun to do at home.

Get your child to gather as many items as they can from around the house that are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple and then arrange them in a rainbow and photograph the end result.

 

Photograph shadows

If your child loves looking at things a bit differently then they’ll love this challenge.

Get them to take photos of various things, but only actually photographing their shadows.  They could photograph their own shadows, and then the whole family’s shadows.

You could make shadow puppets for them to photograph.

They can set up their toys in front of a window and photograph the shadows they each make.

Older children might really enjoy taking self portraits with shadow effects, like holding a piece of lace up to cast a patterned shadow on their face.

 

Try ‘a day in the life’

This last photograph challenge is a really lovely one to get to see your child’s perspective on the world.

Let them have access to a camera throughout the day and tell them to photograph things as they happen.  Don’t restrict them at all, just let them capture what they find interesting and worthy of photographing throughout their day.

If your child does need a bit more structure to the challenge then get them to take a photo on the hour, every hour of the day.

I do a version of this challenge each month, and I love looking back at the photos.  Even though, at the time, it can feel like the photos I’m taking are almost boring, with mundane everyday activities captured, they take on a whole new meaning and value as the years go by.

And it’ll be even more meaningful to look back at the everyday parts of life that your child captures with a project like this.

 

 

Hopefully these ideas have sparked your creativity and will get your child having even more fun with photography.

Which do you think you’ll try first?

#ShowYouWereThere round up

Show You Were There – May round up

It’s Sunday, it’s the end of the month, and it’s time for another #ShowYouWereThere round up.

In case you’ve not heard of it before, Show You Were There is my little Instagram community all about getting more parents in more photos, both with and for their children.  If you want to get involved then all you need to do is use #ShowYouWereThere on any photos that feature you in some way, I’d love to see more people joining in!

 

My first choice for this month’s round up is from Laura at Laura’s lovely blog.

It’s a gorgeous photo of Laura, and I love how her family managed to make her birthday so special during lockdown.

 

The second photo that I’ve chosen for this month’s round up is from Nicola at Mummy to Dex.

It’s such a lovely summery photo, and the news that Nicola shared with it about being able to change her hours at work sounds brilliant for her and her family.

 

Next up is this lovely picture from Sabrina at The Mummy Stylist.

The light in this photo is just gorgeous, and I love Sabrina’s caption that talks about how lockdown has given her extra time with her family, and a bit of a new perspective on how much the little things in life matter.

 

My final pick for this month’s round up is from Sue at Life starts after coffee.

This mother/daughter photo just really made me smile, what more can I say?!

https://www.instagram.com/p/CAQe8qMlyWD/

 

Thank you so much to everyone who is using #ShowYouWereThere, I love seeing your photos popping up over on Instagram, they always make me smile so much.

Now my turn.

We went down to the beach a few days ago for a walk and the first paddle in the sea of the year.  It was so warm and sunny, it just felt amazing to have our feet in the water, and it made me so grateful that we live where we do.

 

If you’d like to join in with my little community and possibly be featured in my next round up (with a nice link back to your blog!) then just share a photo of yourself over on instagram using #ShowYouWereThere.  It’s all about getting more parents in more photos and I’d love to see as many people as possible jumping in front of the camera more

_Easy and fun ideas for photo walks with children

Fun ideas for photo walks with children

I pretty much always take a camera with me when we go out for walks as a family, even if it’s just the one on my phone.

I really love photographing the children and what they get up to when we’re out and about, as well as stopping to take pictures of any plants or flowers or other pretty things that catch my eye.

But I don’t think I’d ever intentionally gone out on what I would call a ‘photo walk’ until the other day.

The difference really is that the main purpose of a photo walk is to pay that bit more attention to your surroundings and find interesting things to photograph.

Nerys and I both did a photo walk like this on a recent family outing to the park and it made the trip out something really fun, and just that little bit more special.

 

Nerys started off using her kidizoom camera, but quite quickly got frustrated with it because she couldn’t see the screen properly in the bright sunlight.  Luckily I’d popped our compact Nikon camera in my bag so let her switch and use that instead.

She’s used it a few times in the house so was up and running (figuratively, not literally!) with it really quickly.

You can let your child use whatever camera you have available, whether that’s their own child-friendly ‘first camera’, an old point and shoot, your dslr if you can trust them with it, or the phone on your camera.

 

There are so many ways you can enjoy a photo walk with your children, but here are my top suggestions:

 

Go rainbow spotting

This is a great way to make a walk more fun if you’re limited to walking around your neighbourhood rather than in an open green space.

Keep an eye out for all the rainbows you can see that people have made and stuck up in their windows.

This is something that Nerys and I did on our photo walk and we both really enjoyed it.

We tend to look out for these rainbows anyway when we’re out and about but it was so much fun to really make a point of spotting them and photographing them all.

 

Find things in each colour of the rainbow to make a photo collage at the end

Along with spotting the rainbows in people’s windows we also photographed things we found in each colour of the rainbow on our photo walk.

It really made us so much more mindful of everything around us, looking for all sorts of different things that were rainbow colours.

At this time of year it was easy to find green things in the local park, but orange things were a bit trickier and we had to get a bit more creative to find things to photograph in that colour.

What I love about this idea is that when you get home you can put all the photos together to make a rainbow photo collage.  Here are the collages I made from the photos that Nerys and I took on our walk.

 

Take photos of different shapes

Depending on where you go on your walk it might be a bit tricky to find things in all the colours of the rainbow to photograph, so you could try doing different shapes instead.

It might seem hard at first, but once you really start looking you’ll end up finding shapes all over the place.

I used to play shape-spotting with Rhys when he was a toddler and you end up seeing all sorts of things that you don’t normally notice, right down to the different shaped drain covers on the floor!

 

Photograph each other in different locations

This idea is one that would work well for children of all ages.

Basically you’re looking out for different, fun, pretty, unique locations on your walk to take portraits of each other.

If you have little ones then you can get some really fun photos of them in different places that you wouldn’t normally think of taking photos.

And if you have older children you can get them to take a series of different photos of you with fun and interesting backdrops, and you can do the same for them to share with their friends or on social media if they’re old enough.

 

Find different perspectives

If you want to get a bit more technical and work on photography skills, then you can use a photo walk as a chance to explore different compositional skills and shooting from different perspectives with your child.

As you walk together make a point of looking up high, and down low to see what interesting pictures you can take.

Get right up under some trees and shoot up into the branches and leaves.

 

Steve took these behind the scenes photo of me and Nerys, and then here is the photo she took as a result of me showing her how to shoot straight up into the leaves.

 

You can also get up slightly higher than normal and shoot a bird’s eye view of the flowers on the ground.

Another idea is to encourage your child to get creative by challenging them to photograph the same object from a few different angles and perspectives.  Get them to photograph it from really close up so it fills the frame, then back away a bit and use the rule of thirds to create a completely different image.

 

Once you get started with photo walks you’ll start noticing so many different things to take pictures of.

You can set a theme for each walk, or just see what captures your attention once you’re out.  And when you do this with your children you’ll spark their creativity, teach them a great skill and have so much fun together along the way!

 

This post is linked up with KCACOLS.