Tips + Techniques

10 Tips for Making the Most of Your Beach Photoshoots

November 16, 2022

By Jacqueline Tobin

The beach is one of the most popular types of locations for wedding, engagement, family and other portrait photography at any time of year, and for good reason: With stunning natural backdrops, beautiful waves, and unobstructed views of the sunset, a beach setting provides plenty of creative opportunities. To hope you overcome the challenges and make the most out of your beach sessions, here are 10 beach photoshoot tips. Below are the key concepts we’ll be covering in this article.

  • Capture the Colorful sunsets
  • Time Your Session with Golden Hour
  • Consider Getting Your Couples In the water
  • Seek Out Reflections
  • Capture the Views from a Distance
  • Candid/Photojournalism
  • Use Piers For Variety in Compositions
  • Don’t Forget About Blue Hour
  • Consider Flash Beach Photography
  • Find Rocks For Interest and Creative Options

1. Best Beach Photoshoots: Capture the Colorful Sunsets

As the sun sets over the horizon, the sky is ablaze with a beautiful array of colors. The exact hue of a sunset depends on a number of factors, including the time of day, the weather, and the amount of pollution in the air. But regardless of the specifics, there’s no denying that a colorful sunset is a thing of beauty.  See a few examples of colorful sunsets during wedding and engagement photoshoots below.
Photo © Angie Nelson (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Andaz Wailea in Wailea, Maui, HI.
beach photoshoot
Photo © Lets Make a Memory (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Laguna Beach in Laguna Beach, CA.

2. Time Your Beach Photoshoot Session with Golden Hour

In the hour before sunset, i.e. golden hour, t sun hangs low in the sky, casting a warm, flattering light that can make even the most ordinary scene look like something out of a postcard. For wedding and portrait photographers, golden hour is the perfect time to head to the beach. The soft light creates a sense of romance and mystery. Golden hour is also a great time to capture the movement of waves and the play of light on the water’s surface. So next time you’re planning a beach photoshoot, be sure to schedule it for golden hour.
Photo © Irina Duane (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Bunmahon Beach, located on the south east coast of Ireland in Bunmahon in County Waterford, Ireland.
Photo © Marlies Hartmann (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) in Malibu, CA.
Photo © Piper Brown (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Easton Beach in Newport, RI.

3. Consider Getting Your Couples In The Water

One of the best ways to add fun and excitement to your beach photoshoot is to put your subjects in the water. The water creates a natural, interactive element that makes for more interesting photos. The moving water and unpredictable waves also creates a sense of motion and energy.  Just be sure to save it for the end of the session and to remind your couples to bring a change of clothes.
Photo © BYC Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Dana Point Harbor in Dana Point, CA.
Photo © Potok’s World Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Elliot’s Beach in Chennai, India.
Photo © Thien Tong (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Hom Gam Ghi in Phu Quoc, Vietnam.
Photo © Party of Two (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Jetton Park in Charlotte, NC.

Photo © Zack Bradley (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Folly Beach in Charleston, SC.

4. Seek Out Reflections

Capturing the perfect beach photo can be a challenge, but finding the right reflection can make all the difference. Reflections add depth and dimension to photos, and they can also be used to highlight certain elements. For example, reflections can be used to create leading lines that draw the eye into the distance. They can also be used to isolate subjects from their surroundings. In addition, reflections can help to create a sense of symmetry and balance in a photo. As a result, taking the time to find the right reflection can help you capture stunning beach photos that are I sure to impress.

Photo © Lessie Blue Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Cannon Beach in Cannon Beach, OR.

Photo © Mauricio Urena (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Ocotal Beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.


5. Capture the Views from a Distance or Above

While there are countless beautiful places in the world, there is something special about ocean cliff views. Maybe it’s the way the waves crash against the rocks, or the way the sun reflects off the water. Or maybe it’s the feeling of being on the edge of the world, with nothing but the open sky above.   In addition, your subjects can remain at a distance from the sand and water, which can be ideal if your subjects aren’t wearing the right clothes for the sand and water below.  Photo © Courtland Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Blind Beach in Jenner, CA. Photo © Aspen and Elm (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Big Sur in Monterery County, CA.

Wedding and portrait photos from above are also an interesting way to capture beach photoshoots.  However, they can present challenges since the subjects are likely to get sandy.  Just like the “in the water” photos mentioned above, save these for the end of your beach sessions. Photo © Raw Shoots (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Hacienda Barrigona in Barrigona Beach, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

6. Candid/Photojournalism

Photojournalistic, candid photos can be some of the best photos from a beach photoshoot.  These “in between” moments are sometimes more organic and natural than the posed photos.  So be sure to have your camera ready and capture your couples walking to and from the locations and interacting with the elements in the scene.  You might also consider planning activities at the beach to give the photoshoot a theme that brings out more natural interactions and expressions. Photo © Tee and Rebecca (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Ribera Beach in Carmel, CA. Photo © BridgetQ Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Blue Ocean Event Center in Salisbury, MA. Photo © Joanna and Brett (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Galveston Beach in Galveston, TX.  Photo © Tom Fuller (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Sea Isle City Beach in Sea Isle, NJ. Photo © Jeroen Savelkouls (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Watergoed in Valburg, The Netherlands. Photo © Kristin Cheatwood (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Lido Key Beach in Lido Key, FL.

7. Use Piers For Variety in Compositions

The pier is a great backdrop that can be used to add depth and interest to photos.  Under the pier, you’ll often find interesting shadows and lines to use creatively.  And putting your subjects on top of smaller piers creates opportunities for isolating your couples and utilizing negative space. Photo © Luzye Photography (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at San Clemente pier, San Clemente, CA. Photo © Shane Trotter (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at The Landing, Lake Tahoe CA in South Lake Tahoe, CA.

8. Don’t Forget About Blue Hour

After the sun sets and the reds and oranges are gone from the sky, a brief moment  called blue hour happens.  The soft, blue light is flattering to the skin and creates a peaceful atmosphere that is perfect for wedding and portrait beach photoshoots. Photo © Nix Weddings (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Emerald Isle in North Carolina.

9. Consider Flash Beach Photography

Flash photography can help you subjects “pop” during your beach photoshoots and help you balance your exposure to maximize the color in the sky.  Flash photography can also be used to fill in shadows, which can be especially helpful during mid day sun. Photo © Enhance Moments (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Terrapin Nature Park in Stevensville, MD.

10. Find Rocks and Driftwood For Interest

Rocky beaches are a popular choice for photoshoots thanks to their interesting and varied landscapes. The different textures of the rocks can provide a good foreground for the photo, while the background can be anything from the sea to the sky. Ultimately, rocky beaches offer photographers a unique and varied landscape to work with, making them ideal for beach photoshoots.

lin jirsa beach rocks photoshoot
Photo © Lin and Jirsa (Website | Wedding Maps Profile)  Photo © Stefani Ciotti (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at El Matador Beach in Malibu, CA.  Photo © Belinda Philleo (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Victoria Beach in California. Photo © Finn and The Fox (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Tunnels Beaches in Devon, UK. Photo © Michelle Arlotta (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego, CA.  Photo © Jay Cassario (Website | Wedding Maps Profile) at Beach at Jekyll Island in Savannah, GA.

Beach Photoshoots: Conclusion

Beach photoshoots are beautiful because they capture the natural beauty of the ocean, the sky, and the sand. They are a reminder that we live in a world of endless possibilities and that there is always something to explore. hey remind us of the importance of living in the moment and enjoying the simple things in life. When we look at beach photos, we are reminded of the beauty of nature and the joy of simply being alive.

Note: All images above are from beach photoshoots taken by some of the award-winning photographers at  Wedding Maps and used in this article with permission.  For more information about joining the directory, click here.

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