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!