Beach photos can be tough to get right.
You’d think it would be easy – the beach and the ocean are already pretty, so why wouldn’t our photos be the same?
If you’ve ever taken photos at the beach, then looked back at them later only to realise that they don’t look nearly as nice as you thought they would, you’re not alone. It’s happened to us all.
There are many ways that beach photos can go wrong, but there are also ways to ensure our beach snaps turn out absolutely gorgeous – here are my best tips for taking totally dreamy beach photos!
Choose your gear
A regular camera like a DSLR, mirrorless, or point-and-shoot will usually be fine for beach photos (just be careful to keep your cam off the sand!). I generally take my mirrorless camera with me along with a few accessories for beach photography.
If you’re worried about your gear getting wet or damaged, then take a waterproof camera. I use my GoPro in those situations.
Beach photos are most often taken from the sand, but sometimes they look best from the water. Try getting wet to take a good photo from the perspective of the ocean.
I recently acquired a Split Photo GoPro Dome from Split Gadgets, which pairs with my GoPro and allows me to photograph what’s both under the water and over it (known as an over/under shot). You might have seen some of these clever photos over on Instagram already. If you’ve ever wondered how to get photos like this, here’s your answer!
This dome can be a little tricky to use as the surface of the water is rarely calm and it can be difficult to see what’s on the GoPro screen while it’s in the dome, but my method of taking loads of photos in the hopes that some of them would turn out seemed to work well! I took some amazing over/under shots while I swam at the beach on Moreton Island over the weekend.
You can get the dome for $99.95 from Split Gadgets with $11.95 worldwide shipping.
A photo featuring the sand and ocean can look fairly boring, so why not use props to make your photos more interesting? Simple things like a beach chair, some flip-flops, or a towel can really improve a beach photo.
Try being inventive with props, like I did with the photo above. While I was doing a photo shoot for a client at Bondi Beach, I asked a local surfer if we could borrow her surfboard for a photo. It turned out to be a great prop as it gave a wistful look to our beach shots!
Take note of the light
Lighting is so important in photography. It can be difficult to take good photos in bright, harsh sunlight, so try heading to the beach in the early morning or late afternoon for the best lighting. Sunrise and sunset are especially good times to visit the beach for photos.
I am actually a huge fan of cloudy days for photography, too. It might not sound like the best option for beach snaps, but the soft light on a cloudy day can give photos a beautiful softness.
Get a wide range of colours
The best beach photos often have a wide range of colours such as the deep blue/green of the ocean, a vibrant orange or pink sunset, or some bright beach towels.
I took the above photo at Newcastle Beach in Australia, and I love the way the colourful shade umbrellas pop against the yellow sand! It makes the scene feel exciting and happy.
Posed photos (like the ones where you are standing up straight and looking directly at the camera) might work in front of famous landmarks, but at the beach, those kinds of shots look… weird.
The beach is a place of fun and relaxation, so shots here will look best when they have a playful or candid look about them. Try looking away from the camera, relaxing on your towel, or get some action shots playing in the surf.
Edit like a pro
Editing is the key to making a beach photo look dreamy. Here’s a photo I took of Bondi Beach a few months ago, and you can see how different it looks once I added one of my dreamy Lightroom presets. Amazing, huh!
The dreamy look can be created with a few different techniques:
Overexposed: This is where the exposure or brightness level is turned up to a point where it’s almost too bright… but not quite.
Washed out: This creates a soft haze over the whole photo. The effect can be achieved by using the fade function on Instagram, or the dehaze function in Lightroom.
Saturated: A slight bump in saturation can do wonders for beach photos as it will bring out the colours in the water or sky, but remember not to go overboard – there’s nothing worse than a fluro green ocean or bright orange skin tones.
*Split Gadgets sent me a complimentary product in exchange for a review. I’m proud to be an honest and transparent blogger, so every opinion expressed on AGWT is a true review of my experience!