The beach is an ideal destination to capture model portrait photography.
There are numerous things that can be used as focal points and/or backgrounds such as the water, sand, lifeguard towers, sandcastles, boats/ships, vegetation, fishing piers etc.
If you’d like to capture some beautiful shots, these beach model photography tips may help you out.
Timing and lighting
If you’re going specifically to the beach take photos of a model you’ll want to take advantage of the Golden Hour in Photography.
The natural lighting from the sun is usually ideal an hour or so just after the sun rises and an hour or so before the sun sets.
During this time of day the sun often paints the surrounding sky and clouds with some amazing colors and gives a beautiful golden glow to your portraits.
Find interesting backgrounds for your portrait photography
The sea and sand can be gorgeous, but after while if that’s all there is in the photos they could become a little boring.
If you can find something to add into the shots as a backdrop, such as a pier, vegetation, hotel/resort or sand dunes etc., the portrait photos will become more interesting.
Try a variety of apertures where the background is out of focus and the subject is crisp as well as the background being sharp too. Often while on location it may seem that one type of shot would be better but once you review your photos you may find that you like the other depth-of-field choice better.
Use the weather to your advantage
No matter what the weather is you can always get some interesting beach shots.
It doesn’t always have to be hot and sunny.
Hazy, cloudy, and downright stormy days can provide you with some exceptionally dramatic and atmospheric photography for portraits.
If the wind is blowing rather hard you can often use this to your advantage during a female model shoot by capturing the flowing lines of her clothing. Flowing hair can also be a nice effect. If the scene is too hazy for your shots try using a lens hood to reduce that effect. Some photographers prefer a hazy creative look while others do not.
Try spot metering
It’s better to have your beach model properly exposed with some of the background overexposed than vice versa.
Spot metering will help you keep the subject from being underexposed.
However, you may want to slightly underexpose as a way to preserve colors and attract attention to the sky for example. When editing your photos later you can always brighten your subject without affecting the background.
Photo by nosha
Silhouettes can be very effective for portraits
A beach is one of the best spots for capturing silhouettes as the sun goes down.
You can focus on the wonderful colors in the sky and have your model appear to be nothing more than a dark shadow in front of it.
Position the subject of your portrait in front of the light source and adjust your camera’s meter for proper exposure of the background. This will create the silhouette effect and is very appealing.
Scenery or model?
When taking beach shots, you need to decide if each specific image is meant to feature just the model person or if they can include the wonderful scenery as well.
The choice may not always be up to you.
But if you do have a say so considered taking both types of shots. In addition to capturing close up portrait photos of the model, consider using a wider angle lens and incorporating the landscape into the photo.
Taking a photo from a higher angle looking down with your subject only filling a third of the frame can be a nice choice. The same goes with showing a contrast in size by emphasizing the height of the hotels/resorts compared to your subject. Be creative!
Use a photo editing program
Because beaches are such popular locations, it’s almost impossible to keep other people out of your model photography shots, unless you’re there early in the morning, later in the evening, or on a bad weather day.
If there are people in the images and you’d like to remove them, simply use a photo-editing program afterwards to do this.
If you’re photographing family or couple portraits at the beach it’s a good idea to try and have everybody wear appropriate clothing for the photo.
If half of the family are in bathing suits and the other half are wearing jeans and sweaters it’s not really going to work too well. if everybody wears something similar, such as casual or beach attire, then the portrait will appear more natural. The same thing goes for the color of outfits. Try to have each person wear a similar color. For example if you are shooting a couple have them both wear a pink shirt and tan pants.
Photos by Flavio
Use fill flash
If you are shooting during mid day you might find your subjects having shadows across their faces due to bright sunlight coming from above.
You should be able to get rid of the darkness by using fill flash. Fill flash will brighten up those dark spots. Also, reflectors can often soften the feel and look of a beach portrait in the sun too.
We hope you enjoyed these beach model portrait photography tips. Leave a comment below telling us which tip was your favorite and any experiences you’ve had photographing models on the beach.