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Secrets to Getting Great Photos at the Beach

Secrets to Getting Great Photos at the Beach

Sun, fun, and summer. Where else to be but enjoying a family beach day. With the natural light of the middle of the day and the right beach photography tips, beach photography can be a pleasant and wonderful experience. Taking family beach photos can help you relive those cherished moments spent on your photo session capturing your main subject and family photos on sandy beaches. As you will most likely be doing some form of travel photography either on your way to the beach or at the beach especially on a nice vacation, try and ensure that your digital camera is also designed for portability.

Beginners and even professional photographers may find different lighting conditions that will be exposed to them while shooting beach pictures. One of these harsher conditions for photography, is shooting during the time of day when the direct sun is shining bright light or direct sunlight in the scene. However, once you find that perfect moment your beach portrait will just pop with vibrancy, color clarity and sharpness.

For example, in landscape photography you need to ensure that your photoshoot is perfect for your customer. Keeping the sun behind you while photographing people doesn’t usually work out well either because this means the subject will be facing the sun causing squinting. However, this is the perfect method for for landscape photography or even action shots when the subject won’t be looking directly at the camera. Try capturing your viewer’s attention to get those close ups without forcing them to have to squint due to the beach sun.

In beach photography sessions you may want to consider the The Rule of Thirds. This puts your subject or object on the left-third or right-third of the frame. By aligning your main subject along with other portions of the photo frame along these points a well balanced image should be produced.

Taking photos in bright sun can cause exposure problems with your image. Start by getting the right lens for lighting situations. We recommend a wide-angle lens with a good depth of field view.

Using a lens hood when you want to avoid lens flare or protect your camera lens is the right move. Lens hoods can come with UV lens protection filter as well, which will be great come time to take photos in bright direct sunlight protecting the surface of the lens.

Below are some photography tips, tricks and tutorials to help you ensure better photos, even if your light source is overly harsh which it may be at the beach.

Beach Photography

Manual Mode

Shooting in manual mode will give you the freedom to access all your camera settings for those bright sunny beach days. Being able to choose your presets different lighting conditions is imperative. Especially the harsh light that emanates from the sun. This light is not ideal as it creates harsh shadows on the skin that highlight facial details showing a better skin tone. This is especially helpful when taking portrait photography. That way your subject is the main focal point of the photo session.

Often times, your images or videos will require additional post production work in photoshop to edit your image still or video recording. These can be accessed through many camera connected apps or as mentioned photoshop apps.

Try having your subject stand in a doorway or even shade outdoors like an umbrella and shooting with an open shade mode. Doing these will help divert the harsh light from the direct sun away from your subject and allow natural warmer lighting conditions for your image or video exposure.

Camera Settings

Aperture Priority and White Balance are critical to proper photography in bright sunlight.

Try a Fill flash via the flash exposure preset on the camera is used to brighten harsh shadow areas on sunny days. If the background of your subject is significantly brighter than the actual subject of the photograph, as in too much backlight, this will help with the image exposure.

When taking direct sunlight photos on a particular sunny day with harsh lighting conditions due to the bright light, try setting your ISO to a low setting due to it’s sensitivity to light. Recommended ISO settings for bright light are 100-800. Setting the camera at this ISO speed will let the least amount of light in, in addition to noise reduction in photo. Again meaning less post-processing!

Set your camera’s shutter speed to a lower speed like 1/1000. One of the last things you want when taking photos in direct sunlight is for your shutter speed to be open for too long. The more length of time that the shutter is open, the more harsh light you allow in. 

Make sure that you use spot metering when taking beach photos, even more so at at midday sun peaks. Using spot metering, will allow you focus on a small point on a subject’s face, instead of having to adjust the amount of light around the other areas of the subject or the entire scene. This will be crucial when capturing a great family photo at the beach.


Reflectors can help reflect the light source and point the light towards darkness. Reflectors can also keep harsh shadows away. Some examples of reflectors colors are:

White: neutral and best when you don't want to change the color of someone's clothing (think of a bride as a wedding photographer). Silver is another neutral color but have additional brightness, Gold which will give your exposure warmer colored tones, Blue which can get you cooler tones and translucent reflectors also known as a diffuser. These are some examples for reflectors geared towards filtering out harsh light.

Try using an ND (neutral density filter) to help with avoiding those troublesome photoshoots that result in blown-out highlights. Blown-out highlights will cause a loss in the detail of the image. Also we recommend purchasing a polarizing filter. A Polarizing Filter which is also a great way to help with harsh light on a sunny day is a filter option which will remove harsh shadows.

Golden Hour

The golden hour is the perfect time to capture what is known as bokeh, or backlit subjects using a wide aperture. In order to achieve this effect, you must be facing the direct sun whilst capturing your image. If done correctly, you’ll be able to highlight everything blowing in the air. A great way to capture the beautiful warm light in the sky is to shoot with a daylight white balance preset. We recommend not choosing auto white balance. If done via auto white balance image may appear flattish requiring additional post-processing of your content.

Golden hour

Camera Options

As a photographer, you are going to find yourself in different lighting conditions. From low or dim light, to shooting images and video recordings to outdoor shooting in direct harsh sunlight that will show in beach pictures. You want to make sure that you get that high contrast that you need to ensure that pixels are being shown correctly in your image or video that may even be uploaded to your Vlog.

Let’s take a look at some of the best camera options for capturing those tremendous beach photos.

The Canon EOS R6 Full Frame Mirrorless Camera Body + 24-105mm F4L IS USM Lens Kit is a beast of a DSLR camera. With specs like a new Full-Frame CMOS Sensor Image Sensor & DIGIC Processor, 5-axis IBIS In-Body Image Stabilization, High-Speed Shooting up to 20 fps, 4K UHD recording at up to 60fps, exemplary dual pixel CMOS autofocus, a Vari-angle Touchscreen, OLED EVF (electronic viewfinder), dual micro SD or memory duo slots for expanded storage. This camera also comes with amazing connectivity including Wi-Fi and bluetooth, you can connect to the cannon camera connect app as well. The EOS R6 camera is premium DSLR camera designed for use in a variety of weather conditions so dust and water sealing resistant sealing materials are used to assist in this area and minimize penetration of dust and moisture in the rest of the camera body.

Another great camera option is the Sony a6400 Mirrorless APS-C Camera with 16-50mm and 55-210mm Zoom Lens. With it’s great price point and features, mounted on Sony’s patented E-Mount system pinpoint lens with blazing fast 0.02 sec. Autofocus, with 425 phase-detection AF points, real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF, to detect and hold onto moving subjects like a great family portrait of your kids jumping in the waves at the beach. It’s 24.2 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor with outstanding light sensitivity is great for capturing that perfect moment with 4K capability.

Sony Camera


What beach photography day would be complete without having the proper accessories? Simple answer, vexing. You are going to want to protect your camera and equipment properly when at the beach for a great photo session. A good utilitarian photo bag is important in this regard. A great option for this is the Deco Photo Camera Bag for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras. This handy photography travel bag is perfect for the beach. Containing the following will help keep your expensive DSLR camera safe at the beach:

  • Lens Blower

  • Lens Pen

  • 12 Inch Tripod

  • Lens Cap Keeper

  • 3 Piece Antiseptic Wipes

  • Spray Bottle Cleaner

  • 2 Piece Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

  • 3 Piece Screen Protector

  • Memory Card Reader/Case

A tripod which is included above in the camera bag or a separately purchased one is great for beach photo sessions. It will help you capture beach photos without the shake of handheld shooting. Throw in a selfie stick and get that model look photographing yourself on those sandy beaches with the beautiful surf from the waves of the ocean.

Let’s Hit the Beach!

With the aforementioned tutorials, tips and tricks for taking beach photos and video recordings, we believe you are prepared for summer. This applies to vloggers and content creators as well, shooting under these lighting conditions. Add to your subscriber and viewer list by having content shot at the beach even in the potentially harsh light of beach photography, expose with great sharpness and in vivid colors and detail.


So hit the beach and get those jaw dropping family photos.

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