1. Timing is ALL important
Golden hour is…well..GOLDEN! While, golden hour is typically considered one hour before sunset or one hour after sunrise, I find I capture my best images about 15 minutes prior to and AFTER sunset! You must be quick. But the light, is EPIC!
2. Watch the Horizon
One of the most common problems in beach photography where there are wide open spaces with a long and often unbroken horizon is sloping horizons. Work hard at keeping your horizon square to the framing of your shot. Also consider placing your horizon off center as centered horizons can leave a photo looking chopped in half.
3. Head to the Beach When and Where Others Avoid it
Another timing issue is that the beach can really come to life on those days that everyone avoids it because of inclement weather. Stormy seas, threatening and dramatic clouds and wind slowing lifesaver flags and trees over call all make for atmospheric shots.
Also take into account where you will shoot. Heading to a public area (i.e. public parking areas, well traversed boardwalks, etc) can be a recipe for disaster! Do you really want someone else’s family in YOUR family pictures?! Get off the beaten path!
4. Don’t Forget Your Lens Hood
This is especially important on the beach when you are shooting into the sun for backlit images. By using a lens hood you will be able to drastically cut back on haze that could overwhelm your subject. While I’m all for some yummy haze, I think it’s best in moderation so that it isn’t overbearing. Your lens hood will help you to retain those important details of your subject.
5. Safety First
While I am all for trying some creative and fun poses, I always keep safety a top priority when at the beach. It is very easy to slip and fall on slimy rocks that make a jetty or to have a toddler fall face first into the water. Be mindful of your surroundings and keep safety a top priority when you are shooting at the beach.