Vacation Photo Tip #6 – The suffering of taking pictures on the beach

Girl in snorkeling gear standing on pink beach

Ah, summer! Vacation time. A chance to spend a few days on the beach. And while there: why not take a few pictures? It is fun after all, and via Facebook and Instagram the whole world should know how much I enjoy my life combining things I love (for the record in short again: a) beach, and b) taking pictures). And it must be so froody to have some beautiful models posing in hot swimwear while the waves are gently licking the edge of the sand lit by rays of light from a friendly sun, right?

But in the hard reality, is taking pictures on the beach so enjoyable? I do not mean: snaping a frame with the new phone, but rather having a real session of halfway serious photography?


The hardships of working on the beach

Truth is: the beach is a nightmare as a production place. Camera, lenses and bags will get greasy from the sun cream which will, in turn, make the sand stick everywhere. If you are light skinned like me you will get sunburns on weird places. It will hurt. It will be hot. You will sweat a lot. You will curse the day you decided to go to the beach. If you are working with model(s) they will feel the same and become bitchy; you will be the one suffering. Contrasts will be harsh and shooting will be technically demanding. Logistics might be difficult. Make up will melt and smear.

Typically, all this hardship leads to a volume output that is far below what was expected beforehand. It is simply a tough thing to work a full day in such conditions.


Things to consider before going

The first things to consider when going to the beach is: what to bring. I already covered the topic a bit in Photo Tipp#2, but let us shed some light on the issue from a slightly different angle. Sure you can take beach pix on the Copa Cobana, but you will have your model + 1.482 other people in the frame. So you may want to seek a lonely beach. It is, however, the lonely and cool beaches, the sexy spots, that are sometimes hard to reach. We had a shoot recently on a pink beach near Flores Island that could only be reached by boat. As the boat needs to anchor and cannot go the last 100m to the beach, all gear had to be transported to the shore. Sure enough my camera bag fell into the water and stayed there for two or so seconds. So, from first-hand experience I can tell: get yourself a weather sealed camera bag, they take a (very short) dip without exposing the camera to water. Everything went well. Ah: and take only what you need. Or swim often.

Some ideas on what to do at the beach

  • Bring plenty of sun cream. With super high LPF.
  • Get lots of water.
  • Make sure to stay in the shadow when not actually shooting.
  • Keep your expectation on output volume realistic or you will be frustrated.
  • Consider leaving the camera home and just enjoy the ocean.
  • Get yourself some ice cream.


Some technical remarks

  • Search for the good light. Contrary to common wisdom sometimes this *is* hard light at noon, but often you will have to get up early.
  • Bring a polarizer, a reflector, and ideally an assistant to help.
  • Get yourself some make up that is a) water resistant, and b) heat proof. And be prepared to re-work the Make-up in 30 minute intervals.


Further reading

If you want some further ideas you might also read


Any more ideas on the subject? Or do you see things differently? Let me know in the comment section below!


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