Home Forums Let’s Talk Photography Shooting at the Beach

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    Hi everyone!  I’m new to this forum and want to say that I find the support here tremendous. Thank you.

    I lined up a family photo shoot and the mom just told me that she wants to do some of the photos in their yard and some at the beach.

    Now I know that shooting at the beach is challenging in that bright sunlight creates shadows. I know that the best time to shoot would be right after sunrise (not going to happen) or right before sunset.

    So what do I do if I can’t shoot at those times?  This family has a young baby and by the time the sun goes down, that baby is in bed.  The father is not available in the morning.

    How do I deal with this?  I know I can use spot metering and perhaps some fill flash, but is there any way possible to get a nice family portrait on the beach when the sun is still strong?



    There are ways.

    Ideally, you can find some open shade.  If not, you can use a scrim — very thin white fabric that allows some light to pass through it, to provide shade.

    Even in direct sun, try to position your subject facing away from the sun and light them with flash.  Usually adjust exposure so the background is just slightly under exposed and your subject is lit correctly by the flash.

    Another popular method is to have your subject facing away from the sun, meter on your subject with a hand held meter or the camera’s spot meter if it is fine enough.  Expose for your subject and the background will be blown out.

    Practice, practice, practice.  Shoot candids of strangers at the beach, or drag a family member along to be your test subject.


    Thank you cameraclicker. I know that I need open shade, but there is none at this beach. I can’t use a reflector, diffuser, etc. because I’m shooting by myself.  And the biggest problem is that one of the family members is a baby and if I wait for the “golden hour” it would be too late in the day…past the baby’s bedtime.

    I think the only solution is to shoot with their backs to the sun.

    I have shot at the beach before, but never for a family portrait like this. This makes me nervous!

    Thanks again for the advise.



    Are there no buildings you can get shade behind? Where are you located in the world? What do you have in terms of light gear? Do you own ND filters and/or a polarising filter?

    If you have enough oomph in your flash set up and you’ve got a medium strength ND filter you could get them to stand with the sun behind them at 15-30 degrees roughly and then blast them from the front. If you have enough power to do this you can get truly spectacular photos with a deep blue sky behind them but it will require lots of light.

    If it is hot a ND filter will help to cut some of the sweatiness and haze.

    The easiest way to make this work is to go on an overcast day and use one speedlight off camera to give you a little more interesting light. If has to be a sunny day make it as late as possible.

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