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Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the Beach

Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the Beach

Beaches are crammed full of interesting photo opportunities. From sand and rocks to shells and sea life, you'll always be able to find something to photograph. The key to beach photography is shooting these objects in a way which tells a story and captures some of the essence of the place. The following tips will help you find exciting subjects and frame them in a unique way.

Find an Interesting Subject

When photographing beaches, it can be your first instinct to just point your camera from at a large expanse of sand or sea and shoot away. While this might look great at the time, it usually produces a disappointing, flat-looking photo which lacks an interesting focal point. You need to find a point of interest to base your photo around. So the first thing to do is find something of interest which will act as the main feature, and then base your composition around that.

Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the Beach


Look for eye-catching dunes, or channels where water is flowing back to the sea. Also consider sand castles and sculptures, and find a way to base your beach photo around them.


Beaches are full of rocky areas, from rugged cliffs to clusters of rock pools to smooth, wave-worn pebbles. Each has a distinct appearance and a different visual appeal.


The ocean washes all sorts of interesting debris onto beaches, such as chunks of driftwood or intricate shells. You can photograph them as they lie, or arrange them into a more abstract pattern for a close-up shot.


Beaches are packed full of wildlife if you look in the right places. Rock pools are often teeming with creatures, such as starfish, crabs, barnacles and birds.

Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the BeachWater

Of course water is an important part of any beach, and can really add to a photo. Crashing waves, streams and tranquil pools all make perfect focal points.

Man-made objects

Most beaches, particularly in touristy areas, contain some man-made structures, such as beach huts or fishing boats. Because they are constantly exposed to the elements they're often quite battered by the weather, giving them a lot of character.


Look for a composition which will lead the viewer's eye into the scene. This can be achieved by using leading lines, such as the curving shore line or a trail of seaweed, to create a path into the photo. Try to also include foreground and background objects to draw the viewer's eye into the photograph. Remember the rule of thirds and place the horizon off-center in the frame. This creates a more balanced, natural looking shot than if you were to place the horizon in the middle of the frame. Also make sure your horizon is straight.

Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the BeachLighting

Try shooting around sunrise and sunset, for a softer light quality with less contrast. This will also produce some fantastic colors, with long shadows that bring out the beach's texture while adding depth.

Secrets to Taking Great Photographs at the Beach

Use a Polarizing Filter

Polarizing filters from work wonders, enhancing the rich blue of the sky and generally making the colors brighter and more vivid. They can also be used to affect the appearance of water. Turn the filter one way to reduce reflections, allowing you to see right through the water. Or turn it the other way to increase the water's sparkle. The beach presents you with an exciting array of photographic opportunities. Use these tips to help you take stunning beach photos.

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