Whether you’re heading to the ocean, lake, or river, photographing your day with the family can present its challenges. Instead of feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, I hope these 5 Photo Tips for your trip to the beach encourage you, give you guidance, ideas and inspiration.
Beach Photo Tip #1: Have the sun either behind or fully on your subject.
You want to shoot so that your subject is backlit (the sun behind your subject) or in full sun (the sun is on your back with your subject in front of you). This will help you avoid hot spots, dark shadows, or images that are too dark/too bright.
If you’re watching your kids play, try picking one light to shoot in to start with (say full sun) and then move to backlight instead of chasing them around and trying to expose for full sun, backlight, full sun, etc. This will ease the tension and give you breaks in shooting.
Bonus Tip: If shooting in full sun, avoid portraits. Instead focus on storytelling moments, having your subjects looking away from you.
Beach Photo Tip #2: Give your subject room to run in the frame.
When you’re at the beach (especially the ocean) kids cannot help but run into the ocean. If you’re photographing someone running, or even just looking, give them space in the frame to “run” into. In other words, frame your subject so that there is empty space in front of the direction they are looking.
Giving space to look or run into gives the viewer a sense of the story. It shows them where the action is moving.
See the photo above as an example. My son is pushing his dump truck into the water. Notice all that space in front of him. You can feel the direction of his movement and where he’s going. If I would have left more space behind him instead of in front of him, you would be left feeling “off” and confused as to where he’s going.
Beach Photo Tip #3: Tell a story with your photos. Shoot with intention.
When you get home and look through your photos you don’t want a flip book of the day (if you do, I suggest videos instead!). Instead, work to tell a story with the photos you are taking. This will help you to slow down, watch the moments unfold and decide what is important to remember about this particular trip to the beach.
Look for details to capture (a windy day, the specific toys the played with or things built in the sand), look for connections (the way your kids played together, ran, laughed, splashed in the water, etc), and the setting (was it a wide open beach, crowded, grey skies, blue skies, etc.).
Beach Photo Tip #4: Get in the frame. You were there too (and probably doing all the work!)
Taking kids to the beach is wonderful, but can feel like a chore. You probably spent lots of timing packing (sunscreen, sand toys, beach towels, swim suits, dry clothes, and all. the. food) before you even got there. Then there is the actual play time, ensuring everyone’s safety, and feeding them snacks every 10 minutes.
You were there, too. So make sure you get in the frame.
I like to set up my camera and then hand it off to my hubby for a few minutes to make sure I have proof that I was there too. Trust me, your kids will be so glad to have memories of EVERYONE who went to the beach that day.
If you’re unsure of how to be in the frame, just play with your kids. Grab one and spin them around on the beach, dig in the sand, splash in the water.
Beach Photo Tip #5: Set the camera down.
It may seem strange for a photo tip to be to NOT take any photos. However, I must reiterate that the goal isn’t a flip book of images. Take some tip, capture some moments and set the camera down. Relax, enjoy your time and feel confident in what you’ve captured.
Of course you can always pick your camera back up. But giving yourself grace allows you to take the time to notice something worthy of photographing all while letting the pressure off of photographing every moment.
Bonus Tip: The best time of day for photography is when the sun is lower in the sky (so earlier morning and later evening). If it’s mid-day, I use that time to set my camera down and playing at the beach with my family.