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3 Tips for Better Beach Portraits

So what’s up with beach portraits? When you’re at the beach it’s certainly simple enough to pop some shots with your smartphone. But professional photographers are quick to point out all the details to consider … like only take pictures during the ‘golden hours’, use an aperture that keep the whole scene in focus (or not, and be sure to blur the background to place more emphasis on the subjects), use a fast shutter speed to eliminate camera shake, use the sun as a backlight (or not, and use the sun as your main light) and on and on and on.


All these things are important to the professional photographer, but here are three simple things you can do to make your beach portraits better.


1. Slow Down - For many, a beach photo shoot takes time away from doing something fun on your vacation so it’s natural that you or other members of your group (especially the younger ones) just want to get it over with as fast as possible. And you know what? Your photographer may be of the same mindset because to them time is money so they want to spend the least amount of time on the shoot as possible.


But what’s the rush? Your photos are going to last a lifetime, so don’t get in a hurry. Take all the time you need to compose each shot ensuring everyone is in the right place and suited to the background. Using a group family shot as an example, don’t settle for just one set-up. Try arranging the people in several different poses and decide later which you like best. Who knows, you might like them all!


2. Wardrobe – When it comes to attire, anything goes at the beach … from laid back casual to ultra-formal. Everyone has their favorite look and clothes to back it up. That’s why given the chance, wouldn’t you pick the outfit that makes you look best for any picture, beach or not?


Sure you rightfully would, but if everyone takes the same approach, your group photo could suffer. For a portrait, group or not, consider wardrobe coordination. Pastel colors usually work very well at the beach as do tans and darker blues and even blacks when a stark contrast is suitable. For groups, consistency (i.e. everyone with white shirts/tops and tan shorts/pants) plays well. Consider mixing up the consistency by having some individuals in the group wearing white shirts and blue shorts while other wear blue shirts and white shorts. You get it . . . the options are plentiful as long as you keep the same color theme.


3. Play in the Sand – There’s a saying among those that live at the beach … ‘living at the beach would be great if it weren’t for all the sand (in the house, car… ). Much the same may be said about beach portraits. But there’s nothing like a vacation portrait of being on the white beach with the clear water and blue sky in the background.


Traditional full-body or waist-up portraits capture just that … clear water and blue sky. These are must have shots, but don’t let them be the only shots. Mix up the composition using more of the sand, perhaps the sea oats in the sand dunes (remember not to destroy the sea oats though) and other natural beach setting like a washed-up log. Try to swap standing with either sitting or relaxing at ground level for a completely different look and even a stronger beach feel. Don’t forget about ‘getting wet’ also. Get closer to the water and let the surf splash up on those standing shots (maybe even sitting for some) . Be bold and dare as you can, but remember all this ties in closely with, and effects, the wardrobe recommendation above.


Use your imagination and push your photographer to expand on these tips and you’re sure to be satisfied with your beach portraits. For more ideas and general consultation, give us a shout any time!



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