Tips on how to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Day

How to Take Better Beach Portraits at Any Time of Time

how to take better beach portraits

Are you striving to work with light during seaside portrait photoshoots? You’re not alone.

But whilst doing beach photography can be tough, don’t worry – because there are a few simple tricks and tips you can use to keep your seaside portraits looking gorgeous, also at high noon. And that’s what this article is all about.

Specifically, we’ll share:

  • The best times of day time to do beach photography
  • How to shoot in bright sunlight and still arrive away with flattering shots
  • An easy way to use the light for artistic seaside portraits
  • Much more!

Let’s jump right in, starting with our number one tip:

1 . Know where the sunlight is at all times

To capture spectacular beach portraits, you need to know where the sun is definitely, no matter the time of day. That way you know when plan a photoshoot, where to setup your camera, where to place your subject, and how the light will change over the course of your program.

The easiest way to do this is to use an ephemeris app (I personally use this one ). It’s a tool that can help the truth is where the sun will be all the time. Note that an ephemeris  can show you the position of the sun anywhere in the world, so merely plug in the location of your photoshoot, and you can see all of the important details.

the photographer's ephemeris
Using an ephemeris app, you can see where (and when) the sun will shift across the sky.

So prior to – or even while – you’re scheduling your program, quickly check this tool to find the sunrise, midday, and sun positions and times.

sunrise and sunset times and places on the Photographer's Ephemeris

This is really helpful since no seaside is alike and the direction of light differs from one side of the world to another. For example , in California, sunlight sets behind the seaside, whereas on the East Coast, the sun sets in the opposite direction.

Also, different beaches may face different directions, so it’s good to know where the sun is going to be during your session.

2 . Morning light is a good time to do beach portraits

Morning light on a beach is magical. It has a whole different color temperature than evening golden hour , and it can provide a nice smooth glow if you have your session early enough.

woman on a log on the beach in the morning

The light is a little bluer in the mornings, and based on the beach where your program is taking place, the sun may rise over the ocean or even peek through the trees. A beach on the East Coast may let you catch the particular sunrise while photographing.

beach portrait in the morning girl with family

Alternatively, on a beach in California, you will catch the sun hitting the water from the land side. This will give you a beautiful yellowish-blue glow on the water if your program is within a few hours of sunrise.

woman on the beach in the morning portrait
On the left, we see the sun rising at the rear of the bay. At correct, the sun casts shadows about midday.

If the morning light is causing unwanted shadows, use a simple reflector to bounce light back on your subject. This is especially helpful if sunrise is at the rear of the water at the beach.

3. Use flash or even reflectors to deal with midday gentle

Midday light in a beach is pretty harsh. Therefore , it’s good to have some type of additional lighting equipment to assist with shadows. You can use an external display , pop-up flash, or a reflector .

people jumping on beach at midday
Seeing the dark areas in front of your clients indicates the sun is behind them. This particular family is lit with an external flash, one that’s mounted on-camera (and pointed straight ahead).

You can also move without an additional light source. In case you choose this route, however , it’s good to underexpose your photos a bit so that you can bring up the shadows in your editing software. Otherwise, you’ll end up with blown-out skies. Of course , this all depends on your type of photography.

Once the sun is at its top point during the day, it might be a great time to take your clients underneath the shade of some trees or opt to capture lively photos of the family. Have your clients walk, operate, splash in the water, construct sandcastles, or just have a little bit of fun together.

The sun is at its highest at different times around the world, so make sure to check the ephemeris to know exactly when to anticipate high noon.

midday beach photo with flash
Exact same session, same beach, 1 photo with flash then one photo without.

Once the sun passes the highest point, it will be at a bit of an angle as it starts to go down with regard to sunset . That’s the sweet location for photographing during the midday hrs at the beach.

midday beach family portrait with flash
Here, I used flash to properly expose the photo plus fill in shadows caused by the sun.

When the sun is at a little bit of an angle, you can cause your clients with the sunlight behind them to keep the light from their eyes. This means you will be in the sun, but it is better than having your clients dealing with the sun directly; that way, you are able to avoid unflattering shadows, unequal lighting, and squinting. The sand can also work as a natural reflector, bouncing light back to their faces.

family portrait on the beach
The particular sand can act as a natural reflector and bounce light back onto your clients.

4. Keep your portrait subjects dealing with away from the sun just after midday

Light right after midday can be different in the winter compared to the summer, but the sun will always sit lower in the particular sky compared to high noon. I recommend you position your own clients so they’re looking away from the sun; that way, sunlight starts to fall behind them (and this will prevent the problems I discussed in the previous section).

mother and child on the beach in the shade

After midday is actually a quite great time to do beach pictures. Depending on the angle of lighting, you can get some really interesting light, and it’ll get more and more golden as you technique sunset.

family on the beach with two kids

If you angle your topics away from the sun but you’re still getting harsh, unflattering light, you may want to consider using a reflector or some fill up flash to deal with those unwanted shadows.

5. Use a flash or a figure technique during the golden hours (sunset)

Real sunset only lasts regarding 5-10 minutes. However , golden hour begins about an hour prior to the sun dips below the particular horizon, which means the position of the light is pretty low and directional. And while golden hour light is beautiful and warm, it also causes it to be difficult to capture your clients evenly against the background.

husband and wife on the beach

It can be especially troublesome if the sun units over the water because you will struggle to capture the lovely colors while also illumination your clients.

golden hour couple portrait

So to light your clients while including the sun in the background, bring along the flash or external source of light. You can also underexpose your pictures a bit, then bring up the particular shadows later without compromising the sunset.

woman's pregnant stomach beach

You can also try silhouetting your clients with the sun light to offer a different turn to the final images:

beach silhouette portrait

One more quick tip: Golden hour is the ideal time to turn your customers toward the setting sunlight. That way, you can capture that will beautiful golden color forged on their skin and curly hair, plus it’ll contribute to the entire look of the photos.

6. Use a gradual shutter speed (and possibly a tripod) during blue hour

Blue hour is the 20 to 30 minutes (sometimes less) after the sunlight has completely disappeared through view. Blue hour is a great time to photograph because of the wonderful colors like blue, orange colored, pink, and purple that can come out after sunset. The particular lighting is a bit darker, and that means you may need a tripod.

long exposure in the water at blue hour
During the blue hour, you can get some additional light on your clients by facing them toward the spot where the sun has set.

Ask your own clients to hold still and attempt some slow shutter speed photos. Capturing movement in water can create a more fine-art beach portrait result.

couple on a rock at night

seven. Try these beach family portrait ideas…

couple in the shade on the beach
Cloudy times are perfect for beach portraits. However , you might not get a particularly bright sunset (compared to a clear day).

It doesn’t matter the time of day; it’s good to include variety in your beach portraits. For that, try some of these ideas:

  • Use rock formations/caves because backgrounds and also as protection from harsh light.
  • Trees can provide color if the light is severe and the day is particularly awesome.
  • While you’re waiting for the midday sun to angle a bit, the particular nearby town can also act as a nice background.
  • Getting up high can keep customers out of harsh sunlight. For example , you could use a balcony in the hotel room, a higher terrace with some shade that overlooks the ocean, etc .
  • Photographing lifestyle-type photos with the family playing, getting in water, and just having a “beach day” is a good way to spice up the photoshoot.

mother and sun on the beach and off the beach
If you are waiting for the sun to go lower a bit, you can take some pictures near trees that aren’t on the beach. This also adds variety to the final set of images.

Beach portrait ideas: conclusion

Now that you’ve finished this article, you are ready to capture some wonderful beach photos – so get out with your camera and also have fun!

Over to you:

Do you have any techniques for shooting at the beach? What’s your preferred beach photography lighting? Reveal your thoughts in the comments beneath!

couple on the beach with splashing waves

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Jackie Lamas

Jackie Lamas

is a destination wedding and portrait photographer based on the beautiful beaches associated with Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. The girl earned her degree in photography from California Condition University, Fullerton. Jackie provides over 10 years of encounter as a professional photographer plus teacher. When she’s not on the beach, you can find her writing on her behalf blog plus spending time with her baby and husband. See more of her work on Instagram .

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