Tips for beach photography

For many summer time means beach time.  As picturesque as the beach is, it can be intimidating to shoot there for many photographers.  What time of day is best? What are the best compositions?  How can gear be protected?

Marcie Reif is a natural light family photographer based in Atlanta, GA, but she is happiest shooting clients and her family on the beach.  Shooting at the beach is when Marcie is in her happy place and the images she makes by the shore are the ones she treasures the most.   After all of the time she has spent shooting at the beach, Marcie has learned a lot about making the best possible beach images.  So grab your camera – and your towel – and read up on Marcie’s top tips for beach photography.


1:  Choose The Right Lens

Marcie has 3 lenses that she loves to use at the beach. The first lens is the Sigma 35mm 1.4 Art series lens.  This lens can capture almost anything you have a vision for on the beach.  It’s sharp and fast, and renders light and color beautifully.  It also preserves the sky really well.  The 35mm captures movement and works low light situations better than any lens in her bag.  Marcie also has a strong love for a fisheye lens at the beach and currently uses the Sigma 15mm fisheye lens.  This lens gives images an extended wide angle, and preserves the landscape and sky very well.  If the sky is showing off and has big puffy clouds or dark stormy clouds, this lens can create stunning images.  Marcie’s other favorite lens to use at the beach is the Lensbaby Sweet 35.  This is a 35mm lens that has a sweet spot of focus in the middle.  Marcie loves to get creative and turn an ordinary situation into a piece of art with this lens.  Choosing the right lens at the beach is critical to matching the vision you have.

2: Shoot all day

Don’t way for the golden hour at the beach.  If there is anywhere Marcie recommends shooting in full sun, it is at the beach.  There are so many opportunities to create amazing images from sunrise to sunset.  With the wide-open space at the beach, shadows and dappled light, which are reasons many photographers avoid shooting in full sun, are not usually an issue. At the beach you have so much color and movement to work with that it will shine and make your mid-day images pop!  Choose a cute bathing suit with lots of color and capture your subject near the shore.  With the sky, sand, and other natural elements of the beach you can create some very strong portraits.  When shooting during the golden hour try and place your subject with the sun setting behind them for some beautifully backlit images.

3: Be Creative

Look all around you at the beach.  What do you see?  At many beaches you will find boardwalks, lifeguard stands, bridges, shore lines, tall grass, sand toys, light, and water.  These can all be the perfect building blocks for strong compositions and creative images.  Marcie loves to find the most ordinary things at the beach and create magic.  Use these elements to create leading lines, texture, movement, use of color, light flares, and so much more!


4:  Bring along underwater gear

Marcie loves to get in the water and capture her children swimming, splashing in the shore, and being brave in the waves.  Water and children usually go together like peanut butter and jelly and most adults love the water as well.  Being in the water usually brings out instant joy for anyone.  When her subjects are in or near the water, Marcie usually just hangs back, observes, and captures the playful joy unfolding in front of her.  Marcie uses an EWA underwater bag on her DSLR camera when near the water.  Other photographers make amazing images with a GoPro on the shore. Underwater housing is also an option, but this is a larger investment.  No matter what you choose to do, Marcie highly suggests that you insure your equipment before going in the water with your camera since there is always a risk your camera can get wet or ruined.  However, with the proper protection, you can create the most magical images at the beach, especially when paired with beautiful light.  Also, don’t worry too much about the sand.  With a lens pen (https://www.lenspen.com/) and a cleaning cloth your camera will clean up nicely.

5: Don’t Wait

Don’t wait until the last day near the beach to capture your beach images.  Start capturing your pictures as soon as you can.  You never know if you will have to leave the beach early Capturing your must-have pictures early on relieves a lot of stress and leaves the rest of the trip to have fun.  Start shooting when you can and have fun!

If you want more tips and in depth info on how Marcie captures gorgeous beach images check out her downloadable Click Photo School Breakout “Brining Home the Story of the Beach: A Complete Guide to Beach Photography”, which includes an ebook, shooting and editing videos, and Marcie’s custom presets created especially for beach images.

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