Do you find yourself having to photograph at the same beach because it’s convenient to your location and most of your clients want similar images to what you have created in the past? We all get stuck in creative ruts from time to time and need a bit of inspiration to give us the kick we need to start creating consistently incredible imagery. Take a look at these 10 beach photography tips that we’ve gathered from various tutorials and workshops from SLR Lounge Premium!

Beach Photography Tips BTS Video

Add Fill Light With Reflector

If you find that your couple is getting lost in the shadows after placing them with their backs facing the sun, add some light back into the scene using a 5-in-1 Reflector. Depending on how harsh you want the light to be, use the silver side or layer the white side on top of the silver side of the reflector. In this image, we are using the SunBounce to pump some light into our couple.

Focus on Sunrise or Sunset

Most beaches have little to no shade so photographing at the beach at 12PM isn’t ideal and most likely won’t produce flattering images. When photographing at sunset and sunrise you’ll get better colors in the sky and flattering light on your subjects. Staying long enough to see all the colors in the sky as the sun sets and 30 mins past sunset, also known as blue hour, is going to be the most ideal time to photograph at the beach.

Use Long Exposures for Water Motion

An easy trick to pull off at the beach is slowing down your shutter to capture the movement in the water. With waves coming to the shore at a quick pace it is easy to capture movement. Typically with HDRs and Composite images with flash, you are shooting a different exposure for the sky than for the couple so it makes it easier to blend when your subjects are below the horizon line.

Add Atmosphere Aerosol/Mist

Using the natural elements you find at the beach may get your clients a little wet, but will inevitably produce some pretty magical shots. Here we used a combination of a bit of Atmosphere Aerosol and ocean mist.

Shoot Into The Night for Starry Night Skies

This may be a bit difficult to accomplish depending on the location of the beach and how close it is to city and smog, but it is worth a shot if you find that there is star visibility. If you takeaway anything from this article it should be that long exposures are your best friend when you find yourself in a creative rut. See how we accomplish it above.

Capture Sun Stars with Diffraction

If you find yourself at the beach before golden hour begins try setting your aperture to f/11 or above and using 1-3 flashes or a strobe like the Profoto B1 to overpower the sun. As a result the sun will form a star shape as you can see in the photo above.


  • Dial in an Aperture setting of f/11 or higher.
  • Use your off-camera light source to illuminate your subject and overpower the sun.

Add a Back Flash as Needed

This beach photography tip is great for silhouette shots that showcase the environment and colors around your subjects. If you are beginning with flash photography, this is definitely a good trick to have in your back pocket to start getting comfortable with off-camera flash.


  • Simply place a flash at your desired power (start at 1/8th power and see if you need to increase from there).

Try Various Color Temperatures

Once the sun sets the sky quickly fades from orange to cyan as it gets closer to night and this is when you get to have some fun playing with your off-camera flash. This is a creative way to color balance and can be done in-camera rather than dealing with the hassle of post-production.


  • Shift your color balance in camera to around 3600-4600 Kelvin.
  • Add a CTO (color temperature orange) gel to your flash to neutralize skin tones.

Use Water from a Spray Bottle

A Spray Bottle is a simple tool that you would never think to use for photography, mostly because we stay clear of all water whenever given the chance. Spray some water on your lens and you can turn a boring “she’s-all-that” image into “homecoming queen”.


  • Spray water on desired part of the lens.
  • Control the size of the foreground bokeh by adjusting your aperture (wider aperture = bigger bokeh).
  • Make sure there’s no dirt on your lens, because you can scratch your lens while wiping the water off.

You can see it used in action in this behind the scenes clip from our Unscripted series or watch this quick video for more creative effects using inexpensive everyday items:

[REWIND: introduction: the complete posing workshop]

Find and Use Reflections

Using your surroundings to enhance your art is always a good idea. Take a moment to stop and look around you to see what elements you can use as foreground or what options you have to create interesting and meaningful compositions.


  • Find a tide pool or puddle of water to use as your reflection source.
  • Make sure their is no movement in the water itself in order to capture a clean shot.

Try Sparklers on the Beach

We definitely saved the trickiest tip for last, but, it is undoubtedly a crowd pleaser. Once again, long exposure is your best friend at a beach, and pretty much anywhere, to be honest. To see how we create the above shot in camera, check out this video from our Unscripted series, exclusive to SLRL Premium.


  • Slow down your shutter to 5-10 seconds.
  • Have your assistant wear dark clothing so that when you composite the shot together later it is easier to Photoshop them out.


In conclusion, mastering beach portrait photography demands careful planning, technical skill, and creative vision. By heeding the advice of professionals, we can navigate the challenges of coastal environments and elevate our work to new heights.

Preparation is crucial, from scouting locations to adapting to changing conditions. Understanding composition and framing allows us to craft captivating narratives, while technical proficiency ensures professional-quality results. Effective communication with subjects fosters authenticity and creates memorable portraits.

Ultimately, beach portrait photography offers endless opportunities for creativity and expression. Armed with the insights shared by professionals, photographers can embark on their journeys with confidence, capturing breathtaking moments that endure.