How to take stunning beach photos: 5 easy photography tips.

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Simple beach photography tips to take amazing beach pictures

Golden sands, sunlight glittering off azure waves and dramatic coastlines. There is something about the beach that instantly soothes the soul.
Studies have proven that being near the ocean is better for our overall health…but did you know that just looking at an image of the ocean can have similar health benefits? I would say that is an even bigger motivator to capture those special beach photographs. 
Get frustrated by your results to capture those amazing beach scenes into stunning photographs? Getting the lighting and framing right at the beach can be tricky.
Luckily there are some simple ways to improve your beach photography, even if you are a photography beginner.
Here are 5 easy photography tips to get your beach photographs from ordinary to wow!

 Slip, Slop, Slap


We have nearly all heard the slip on a shirt, slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat mantra. Well, just like your skin you are going to want to protect your camera gear at the beach.



Slip on a lens before you get to the beach…and keep it on. Changing your lens at the beach is a sure way to get sand into your equipment.

One of my favorite lenses is my 24-70mm for most situations. It gives a wide enough range to capture most moments that I come across on an adventure.

Have a think about what you want to capture at the beach. 

If you want to capture whole landscapes then choose a wider lens. If you want to focus on details or are doing beach portraiture then you may want 50mm that lets you close in on those gorgeous small points of interest. 


Travel With Meraki - Beach Photography tips -Terrigal Beach - NSW - Australia


If you are heading down to the beach for a day of fun it may be best to leave your DSLR behind and take a tougher, smaller camera.

We have a Sony FDRX3000 4K Action Cam with Wi-Fi & GPS and an Olympus Stylus Tough.

Both these camera let us play on the beach and sand without having to worry about damage. Our kids especially have so much fun, honing their photography skills.

You can take amazing images with these cameras by using the same tips and advice as a DSLR regarding composition and light.




Slap on a filter if you have a DSLR.

I would suggest a polarizing filter  for beach photos. This is a win-win situation.

Firstly it will protect your lens when taking pictures on the beach. It is much cheaper to buy a new filter if it gets scratched than a whole new lens.

Secondly, a Polarizing filter will help reduce reflections ( on those calm rock pool puddles) and contrast ( think those wide deep blue open skies ). This lens acts just like your sunglasses do, and helps filter out some of the light and glare from the sun.

Another filter option is a GND filter  ( Graduated Neutral Density). This will come in handy especially if you are capturing sunrise or sunset over the water.


Perfect Timing

If you want truly amazing beach pics, it’s all in the timing.

Heading to the beach around those magic hours of sunrise and sunset will really pay off. Not only will you get amazing light and color but you may well find you even have the whole beach to yourself.

Capturing beautiful sunrise or sunset photographs takes some special effort though.

Try to avoid midday as the lighting is harsh and trying to capture detail is difficult. If you are taking photos of people and children you will also find that shadows cause a problem over facial features. 

Choosing to go down to the beach on days where others avoid it, is also a great way to get some interesting and often dramatic images.


Travel With Meraki - Beach Photography tips -Terrigal Beach - NSW - Australia


Stormy seas and moody skies are still some of my fave beach weather and make for gorgeous beach photographs.

Another great time to head to the beach in winter. Winter afternoons often have the most magical light and beaches tend to be less crowded.


Travel With Meraki - Beach Photography tips -Terrigal Beach - NSW - Australia



Focal Point

No matter how gorgeous that beach scene is in front of you, taking a photo straight away without some thought will leave you will a pretty bland, run of the mill image.

Picking a focal point is important in most images but I think perhaps even more so when you’re at the beach where you have such a wide, open landscape.

When you look at a photograph you need a spot for the eye to rest a short time, to capture the interest of the viewer.

Luckily at the beach, this can be found so easily.

Maybe it’s that surfer catching the perfect wave, some gorgeous patterns in the sand or your child lost in thought while watching the ocean.

Even better if your focal point tells the viewer a story. Maybe footprints leading to your child in the sand, collecting shells? Or a patient dog sat guarding it’s owners towel while they take a swim.


Travel With Meraki - Beach Photography tips -Wamberal Beach - NSW - Australia


Getting your focal point from a different angle is also a great way to make your images interesting. maybe using your waterproof camera at wave level while you are in the ocean and shooting back towards the beach? Or getting down low and close to the sand to capture the image?


Beach Photography Camera Settings 

As with all photography, there are no set camera settings that will create amazing beach photographs. 

Some simple starting points for beach photography are:

  • Mode: Manual
  • ISO: 100
  • Aperture: f/11
  • Shutter speed: 1/250 

Please use this only as a starting point.

Your aperture and shutter speed will vary according to conditions and what you are trying to achieve with your beach photography. 

For example, if you are focusing on the small details like shells you will want an aperture closer to f/2.8 but if you want whole sweeping beach landscapes then it will be around f/22.

The same goes with shutter speed. Taking photographs in the golden hour while need different speeds ( and a tripod), as will trying to capture different water effects such as freezing wave movement or creating a soft, blurred ocean.

This is all part of the fun of photography so do not be afraid to experiment.

There are no mistakes in this world of digital photography. Delete images that didn’t work, save those you would like to play with in editing and keep experimenting. 


Travel With Meraki – The beach is all about fun and amazing memories. Take the time to capture those special moments, even if they may not make the perfect photograph. Kids splashing through waves, friends enjoying a beach picnic together. 


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