How to Take Better Photos at the Beach

Overhead view of a beach

Ian Centrone

Every photographer has their favorite spot to shoot that instantly makes them feel inspired. For many people, that happens to be at the beach. Landscape photography, in general, can be a challenge, and the beach is no exception. The sun may be too bright, the water can reflect excess much light, the wind might be whipping, and sand always finds its way into every nook and cranny of your gear. However, if you’re lucky enough to live close to the sea, or if you’re looking forward to an upcoming beach getaway, read more tips below to discover how to capture the best beach moments.  

  • 01 of 07

    Timing is Everything

    Beach at sunset

     Ian Centrone

    First things first – knowing when to break out your camera and start snapping will set you up for success from the get-go. Generally, the best beach photos tend to be taken when the sun isn’t too overwhelming. This means arriving at the beach in the early morning or later on in the day, depending on when the sun rises and sets in your particular location. Build in enough time to get settled, find the perfect spot, and adjust your camera settings so you can get the best photos possible.

  • 02 of 07

    Settings Matter

    Sunrise over dock

     Ian Centrone

    Speaking of adjusting your camera settings, try to break away from using auto mode. Sure, you can still capture some beautiful images using the automatic settings, but you can really elevate your photos by customizing your settings in manual mode. No two beach days will be the same, so experimenting with factors such as your camera’s aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will help you achieve the best results. This also brings us back to the first tip, which is to make sure you have an ample amount of time to make sure your settings are just right for the conditions and task at hand. There are few things more frustrating than waking up early to capture the sunrise and missing the shot because your camera settings aren’t calibrated correctly.

  • 03 of 07

    Think Outside The Box

    View of lighthouse

    Ian Centrone


    When people think of beach photography, they typically envision breathtaking landscapes with the sun painting a masterpiece in the sky. But there are so many more exciting subjects to consider when shooting at the beach. Scout the location for unique perspectives and anything else that captures your eye. This obviously depends on the particular beach you’re visiting, but some examples could include the walking path leading up to the water’s edge, lifeguard stands, piers, boardwalks, lighthouses, sand dunes, bungalows, surfers – you get the idea. Be creative!

  • 04 of 07

    Mind your Spot Metering

    Beach during the day

     Ian Centrone

    This tip has come in handy on multiple occasions during daytime beach photo shoots when the sun is especially harsh. Whether shooting into the light or against a dark background, it can be tricky to avoid under- or overexposing your subject. Using your camera’s spot meter requires a bit more effort than matrix metering, but provides for more control. It works by taking one reading from a specific area rather than drawing multiple readings from all over of the subject. But keep in mind, spot metering is only available in the P, A, S or M modes, so make sure you're using one of these. 

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  • 05 of 07

    Have Fun with Filters

    Sun over the ocean

     Ian Centrone

    If you have access to filters, try bringing them along and experimenting with the different effects each one has on your photos. One popular option is an ND filter, which will cut down the intensity of the light entering your camera and hitting the sensor. Polarizing filters are also successful at reducing the sun’s reflections off the water or white sand, and can enrich deeper blue hues. Lastly, consider using a UV filter, which can cut out short wave UV light and even create lens flares to add a fun effect to your final images.

  • 06 of 07

    Be Vigilant

    This is true especially if you are shooting alone and have lots of equipment with you. Make sure to keep a watchful eye on your gear while you’re shooting, and take note of any people in your general vicinity. Nobody wants to wander along the beach and return to find their equipment missing. Additionally, be mindful of sand and take extra precaution when switching lenses. One helpful tip is to keep the body and lens in your camera bag and change lenses as quickly as possible. And don’t forget your camera strap!

  • 07 of 07

    Enjoy Yourself

    Last but not least, make sure to have fun. Whether shooting alone or with a friend, enjoy the moment and try not to take things too seriously. Lots of unexpected things can happen during a beach photo shoot (such as miserable weather or over-crowded stretches of sand), but being prepared and remaining flexible will help you make the most of the experience. And don’t get frustrated if you can’t get the settings just right – you can always edit to help make the magic happen! 

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