Shore to Please: Better Beach Photos

Shore to Please: Better Beach Photos
  • Opening Intro -

    Water. It is a liquid we cannot live without and covers 70 percent of the earth's surface.

    It is also an object of our fascination and imagination as we observe it in a variety of weather conditions from a gentle fall of a spring rain to the wind-whipped frenzy of a thunderstorm.


At the beach, water is the focal point that brings millions of people to its shore on summer days. With it comes camera-toting visitors, individuals looking for that perfect shot or at least a picture that isn’t dominated by glare or a faded subject.

You can take shore pleasing photos, images that you will gladly add to your permanent collection.

Hone In

The ocean is so vast and a beach can encompass far more than the person or other subject you want to capture. Instead of focusing on panoramic shots of your location, hone in on one object and emphasize that only.

Create a focal point or a central object that will dominate your photo. Increase visual interest by pointing your camera directly at a lifeguard stand, at a moored boat or at a child playing in the sand. Put this object in the center of your viewfinder, zoom in, press the shutter button half way down to focus and then take your picture.

Sunrise Sunset

The beach offers ample natural light, too much if you like to take photos during the middle of the day. With a penetrating sun overhead your subjects may appear washed or distorted. You can overcome this problem in part by using the flash to dispel shadows that can appear beneath the nose or mouth of a person.

For the best beach photos, take your pictures during the first few or last hours of the day. The sun is much less intense during those hours and you can take shots of objects on the water that are not drowned in sunlight. Sunrise and sunset shots are easier too and quite pretty: capture the sun in its blazing glory and the rays dappled on the surface of the ocean or bay.

Overcast Days

Some of the most beautiful beach photos are those taken when sunlight is absent or has been severely limited due to fog or a mist. On these days, you can take panoramic photos without worrying how the sun will affect your pictures. You can still activate the flash, to minimize shadows and to offer more even or level lighting as needed.

Overcast days also means that crowded beaches are empty of people. You are in a better position to focus on various objects and perhaps capturing wildlife that would not be around if the beach was thickly populated. Take note of how minimal light and shadows can add depth to your photos and consider switching to black and white shots for an Ansel Adams effect.

Frame It

Imagine what type of picture you would like to take and frame, then look for it. If there is a natural setting, such as a rock outcrop or a fishing pier that you would like to capture, consider how best to make it the subject of your photograph.

Experiment with different angles and varying levels to capture the look that you want. Avoid a busy background, strive for an interesting foreground and get on the level. Drop down to the level of a sand crab or the tops of a pod of dolphins as they swim by. Take note of how changing colors — as in a rising or setting sun — can dramatically alter your picture.

Best Pictures

Bright, sunny beach days can pose more of a challenge to your picture taking than an overcast or partly sunny day can. If there is too much sun, use objects such as a beach umbrella to provide some cover. Your subjects should stand where the sun is to their side, enabling you to take a great shot without glare having an effect. Be mindful that sand can damage your camera, therefore return it to its carrying case when it is not in use.

See AlsoHow to Save Money on Your Summer Vacation This Year


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Categories: Consumer Tips

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".