fiddle leaf photography
Jun 15, 2018
Living in landlocked Alberta, you wouldn’t think that photographing my kids at the beach is one of my all-time favourite things to do, but it is! My girls are obsessed with the water and so whenever we go on vacation we aim to be around water somehow, whether that’s by a river, a lake or the ocean. Over the years I’ve learned a few things that I keep in the back of my mind when taking photos at the beach.
Even a small reflection can add a lot of visual interest to your image. Reflections will be easiest to catch in still water (a lake) or on smooth wet sand (at the ocean) and the lower you get – generally crouching right down in the sand – the more reflection you’ll be able to see.
Water (like fire) is one of those things you can stare at for hours and hours and never get bored. That’s because it’s always moving! Whenever we’re near water I try to capture its movement in a still photograph. That can be the waves rolling in, the splash after a rock is thrown in, or the ripples on an otherwise still lake.
The default way to shoot at the beach tends to be shooting from the shore towards the water. To mix things up, try getting into the water and shoot to the shore. And to make sure you don’t end up with a wet camera, make sure you have it on a strap and that you’re taking it really slow to keep good footing. I also don’t recommend going more than shin deep unless you have underwater housing on your gear – that way if you fall you’ll be able to keep your camera above your head.
It’s easy to get caught up in the beautiful scenery and the way the light shimmers at the beach, but don’t forget to capture the little details too. Some of my favourite beach images are of sandy hands and feet (because only a kid can manage to get that sandy!). Toes, fingers, hair, sunscreen, picnic baskets, insects….all make great supplementary images to your storytelling.
Yes, shooting at the beach when the weather is gorgeous and the swimsuits are out is amazing, but I also love stormy beach images. Putting on the rain gear and heading to the beach to toss rocks or throw mud can make for some really lovely images that’ll feature dark clouds. As an added bonus, you’ll probably be alone on the beach so you’ll be able to capture sweeping landscapes without obstruction. Obviously, make sure there’s no lightning while you’re exploring!
One of the trickiest things about shooting at the beach can be adding unique visual interest to your images as it’s often wide open spaces with not much opportunity for unique compositions. Look for trees, reeds, umbrellas, sun tents, etc to provide some framing within your composition. If you’re completely stuck, you can always use another person in the foreground to mix things up.
Lastly, keep in mind that sand and cameras aren’t friends. I recommend having a bag that you keep your camera in when you’re at the beach and when you’re not actively using your camera make sure to put it in the bag. Instead of bringing my big camera bag, I bring a small cloth drawstring bag with me and keep my camera (in the cloth bag) in whatever beach bag we are using. I also never change lenses at the beach as the risk of sand getting on my sensor isn’t worth it.
Most importantly, HAVE FUN. Remember to put your camera down every once and a while and enjoy the time with your family.