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Portrait Photography on the Beach

By Amy Renfrey

Summer is here at last! The first thing you want to do is get yourself, with your camera, onto the beach. The water is blue, the sand is a golden yellow and there are photographic opportunities everywhere. But wait….before you rush out, read these helpful tips.

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The most common problem about beach photography is exposure. The photos you can take on the beach are either very bright or too dark. When the background is just right faces of your friends can look too dark. Why does this happen? This happens because the camera is exposing for the background and forgetting about the rest. Faces are hard to expose for, especially if you are using your camera in auto mode.

Another problem, which relates, is contrast. There can simply be too much of it. Too many bright areas and too many areas in shadow can really dampen your spirits.  It’s nice to be able to have light evenly spread across your photos. In fact “evenness” in light calculation and observation is one of the key factors in photography. It’s important to know what your light is doing and where it’s going.

A great way to create lovely beach portraits is to either face the person into the sun or use another light source. The only problem with facing someone into the sun is that they may squint. If the person is wearing glasses you will see your reflection in their glasses. Sure, it’s comfortable for them, but it does not create a very good photo.

Using another light source is an ideal way to get more light onto your friend. You can use a reflector to bounce the light back onto their face. Gold reflectors look nice at dusk or sunrise. You can simply bounce the already warm light back onto the persons face, creating a lovely gold tone throughout the photo.

DigitalPhotographySuccess.com, Amy Renfrey Focus Ezine, Portrait photography

Using fill flash is also another great idea. You can simply face the person towards the sun and shoot with the flash in auto. The flash will read the light reflected from the subject and alter the output. When you take the photo the flash will fire. It then fills in all the shadows on the face creating evenness of light.

DigitalPhotographySuccess.com, Amy Renfrey Focus Ezine, Portrait photography

If you don’t have a large diffuser as this photo has, you can always wait for the clouds to cover the sun. This gives you lovely diffused light and will intensify the colours of clothing and the environment. Or you can wait until the sun has just dipped below the horizon at the end of the day. This will create the same effect.

Beach photography is a lot of fun, especially when you are shooting friends or family. It’s important to watch what your light is doing; brightness/intensity, contrast, evenness/unevenness, shadows, colour/temperature and direction/angle. Watching for these things will be a great start for your image making in the years to come.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time. DigitalPhotographySuccess.com

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