During the summer months I often shoot at the beach at golden hour.

My kids are happy to let me take photos of them because they get a night swim out of the deal. I try to make the most out of them being willing to be photographed!

I particularly love getting shots of them backlit playing in the sand or water, but I also want to make the most out of the time I have with them without having all the shots look the same. Our beaches don’t offer too much in the terms of different spaces to shoot in as it is pretty much just sand and water with a very occasional tree if we are lucky.

Even if your location doesn’t have different spaces to shoot in you can still get a lot of variety from any location. These tips are not specific for shooting at the beach, and are a great list to keep in mind anytime you are shooting!

1. Backlighting

Backlighting as I mentioned above is one of my favorite types of lighting and is often my go to for golden hour shooting. I often purposely underexpose my subjects so I don’t completely blow out my sky. I then use post processing to bring up my exposure on my subjects and bring down my exposure on the sky. Shooting in RAW helps tremendously when trying to shoot in between correct exposures for the subject and sky.

Learn more about RAW photography here.

girl standing on the beach by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

2. Sidelight your subject

As much as I love to backlight my subjects, I love that I can shoot with the sun to the side of them for a completely different look. Oftentimes even at sunset shooting to the north or south will produce shots with bright blue skies well after shooting to the west produces more of a typical sunset look.

girl laying a towel out on the beach by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

3. Shoot wide

I truly fell in love with my 35mm lens the moment I first saw the images I produced with it. I love showing environment in my photos and how small my children look in our vast world. I love the context shooting wide gives of the setting my children are in.

Read more about using a wide angle lens here.

person swimming in the lake by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

4. Details

As much as I love a wide shoot, it is so important not to forget to capture the details! Get close and capture them!

feet in the beach sand by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

kid scooping sand into a bucket by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

5. Change your perspective

You will often find me during a shoot lying down, crouching, and standing over my children. My goal is to shoot them from all angles including behind them, in front of them, to the side, and above them. My children are used to this and as long as I don’t disturb them too much they tend to ignore me, which is just perfect… most of the time!

black and white photo of girl playing in the sand by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

girl sitting on towels at the beach by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

6. Change your aperture

I shoot relatively wide open at f/2, but when I want to add variety during a shoot I love to play with my aperture. For detail shots I often shoot completely wide at f/1.4 and for capturing sunbursts I will up my aperture to f/11 or above.

Learn more about how aperture affects your photos here.

boy jumping in the water at the lake by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

7. Silhouettes

I love silhouettes especially with a beautiful sunset. I meter for the sky which will in turn make my subjects very dark that can be enhanced with post processing if needed. If you have more than one subject make sure you have some separation between them or otherwise they will turn into a blob.

Read more on creating silhouettes here.

silhouette photo of siblings at the beach by Mickie DeVries of Fresh Modern Photography

I hope this list helps when you get stuck at a location or find yourself wanting to widen the variety of shots in any place!

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