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HotelsCombined / Blog / This Is How You Take Great Photos At The Beach

Whether you have the most sophisticated DSLR or just a smartphone; travel photography is a great way to share the experiences you had on your journey with your friends and family. But most people find it hard to evoke that sense of excitement and wonder that they felt during their travels through their images.

Have you ever tried to take photos at the beach?

There is a certain time of the year in every country, where we feel the need to ditch the office for a few days and gaze at the deep blue sea rather than a computer.  Oded Wagenstein, a travel photographer and a regular contributor to National Geographic Traveler magazine has shared his tips to taking great photos on your next beach holiday:

How to take great photos of your next beach holiday

How to take great photos of your next beach holiday

Come early, stay late.

Have you ever taken pictures at the beach and everything came out “burnt” and white looking? The reason is simple: the camera sees the world and light differently than we do, in a much less sensitive way. While hitting the beach after a late breakfast is great for most people, if you want to create stunning beach photos you need to arrive early. Photographers call it the “golden hours,” which are usually one hour after sunrise and one hour before sunset. This is when the light is soft, full of color and coming from a low angle that flatters subjects. Also, by arriving at the beach at the first or last rays of day, it will be much less crowded and you’ll have it almost all to yourself.

The "golden hour"- Half an hour before sunset

The “golden hour”- Half an hour before sunset

Make me “feel” – not “see”

Trust your viewers. They’ve seen beautiful sunsets and stunning beaches many times before. If you want to interest them, you’ll have to do it with emotion and feeling in your images. Our goal as travel photographers is to make our viewers say, “Wow, I want to be there.” My goal with this picture (below) is to deliver the sense of joy these boys had. Remember while sunset and sand is nice to watch, people will make it a story.

The joy of play

The joy of play

Don’t just react, create! Add a “hero” to your frame

Every image must have a subject. I call it the “hero” of the picture.  If your pictures lack a hero, then the viewer feels lost in the image and loses interest. People are great subjects for your travel beach photos, but a subject can be almost anything. Be creative and add subjects to your frame, like a cold drink, a beach ball, or even your legs paddling in the water.

Without the ball, it was a completely different image

Without the ball, it was a completely different image

Less than $70 worth of underwater camera housing is all I needed to bring a different point of view on this beach in southern Thailand.

Less than $70 worth of underwater camera housing is all I needed to bring a different point of view on this beach in Southern Thailand.

Use a polarizing filter

Polarizing filters help you control the reflection of returning light. Therefore, it is perfect for beach photography, where water and white sand reflect a lot of light. To use it correctly, you should be about ninety degrees from the sun. The filter will allow wonderful color to the sky and water to shine through.

With Polarizing filter                                                                    Without Polarizing filter

With Polarizing filter                                                                                              Without Polarizing filter

Keep your gear safe

Your camera is not as fond of the sea as you are. On the other hand, you didn’t buy it just to take pictures on your grandmother’s birthday, right? Hot sand, wind, salt, and water are the biggest enemies of electronic equipment. Leave your gear safe by not putting it directly on the hot sand. When working with a DSLR, DO NOT change lenses when on the beach, as sand and water can enter the camera body. Keep your lens clean, preferably with a blower. Don’t wipe lenses before blowing air on them, as small grains of sand can scratch the glass.

Remember to enjoy!

Don’t forget to enjoy!

Play with silhouettes 

The "blue hour"- Half an hour before sunrise

The “blue hour”- Half an hour before sunrise

Instead of struggling with the exposure (or cursing your camera for creating an image which is too bright or too dark), you can use its inability to see the world as we do and play with silhouettes. By shooting directly in front of the sun during sunset, silhouettes appear almost automatically. This is because the camera measures light (unless you have changed the settings) from all parts of the frame and creates an average. Ask your travel companion to model for you and create some really cool looking silhouettes. Sometimes what you think is a limitation of your camera actually is an advantage. It all depends on how you look at it, and what you do with what you got.





Have a question? Want to offer a topic for the next post? Feel free to post your suggestions below. 

Oded Wagenstein 

Oded's image by Tomer Jacobson

Oded’s image by Tomer Jacobson

A travel photographer and an author. He is a regular contributor to National Geographic Traveler magazine and is known for his intimate portraits from around the world.  It is well recommended to check out Oded’s new ebook: SNAPN TRAVEL- A life time of travel memories in a snap. It’s all about bringing the emotion of your trip
home with you, not just a memory card.