Beach photography tips


7 top tips for taking the best beach photos


If there’s one place we’re bound to visit while on holiday it’s the beach! With a picnic to tide us over, lots of sun cream and a bagful of games and goodies to keep us amused, it’s the perfect way to explore the local beauty spots dotted around our villas.

Of course, it’s also the perfect opportunity to capture your ‘Big Holiday’ moment and enter our competition… Dad doing his Daniel Craig impression as he walks out of the sea, the children playing nicely together (for once!) and the family enjoying those special moments that can be recorded forever on camera.

Let’s face it, the beach is the most stunning backdrop to start getting creative. With minimum thought you can capture the image that back home, will make the perfect wall art in your front room.

Start your journey to being a budding amateur photographer with our top tips for taking the best beach photos.

1. Get to know your surroundings

beach photography tips

It’s all about taking a good look around you and getting familiar with your surroundings. If it’s the first time you’ve visited, sweep the panorama and look out for anything that draws your eye; are there any colourful boats laying at the water’s edge? Any fishing nets, quirky objects or a lighthouse maybe?

Think of where you’ll be standing to take the photograph; what’s in the background? Do you really want the car park in your photo?

2. Best time of day

beach photography tips

The start of the day and the end of the day are the best times for photography on the beach. There’ll be less people around and you’ll find that with the sun shining at an angle, you get more interesting effects with shadows and colours – particularly in the evening when the light becomes warm and golden.

You can put your camera away during the middle part of the day as the sunlight beaming from above is very harsh (unless dad starts doing his Daniel Craig impression, then definitely take the photo and share with our social team)!

3. Move around

beach photography tips

We believe there’s no such thing as taking too many photos. Moving around as you take your snaps is the best way of making sure you get that one perfect image. It’s better to be able to delete lots instead of not having a selection to choose from. Think of yourself as the tripod; stand face on to your subject centrally, try shooting from each side, lower yourself down, is there anything to stand on to make you higher? Keep on moving until you have covered every possibility.

4. Turn around

beach photography tips

This is an extension of the first tip when you’re getting to know the area. The view you are looking at on the beach may be pretty and have interesting cloud formations, but don’t forget to look back where you have come from! You might find an even better perspective.

5. Flash tricks

beach photography tips

Forget using your flash solely for when it’s dark! If you have the family stood with the sun behind them shining directly into your camera, some cameras in auto will keep the background lit and the foreground dark. Your loved ones will appear as a dark silhouette against a bright backdrop. But if you press the lightning bolt symbol, your flash will turn on and this will help balance your photo and capture the image better. Unless you’re after a creative silhouette shot of course, in which case feel free to ignore this tip!

6. Rule of thirds and straight horizons

beach photography tips

Using the rule of thirds at Aphrodite’s Rock in Cyprus.

The trouble with wide open spaces and long unbroken horizons is that they can easily be shot off centre – and become sloping horizons! One easy tip to use when looking through the lens is to imagine the view being split into thirds horizontally and vertically. This will help you position the lens squarely to the horizon. Why not try positioning the horizon on different levels within the view? Sometimes a central line can give the effect of chopping the photo in half!

7. Keeping your camera safe

Taking your camera to the beach needs some thinking about how to keep it safe from the sand and opportunists alike! A waterproof zip bag can come in very handy to prevent sand (and water of course) getting into your camera. If you choose a colourful zip bag that looks like the kind of place you’d keep sun creams or wet costumes, you can fool any light-fingered pilferers who are most likely on the lookout for the typical padded bag used to protect cameras and lenses.

Go take a dip with your Daniel Craig and keep an eye out for the next best photo opportunity!

Now you’re in-the-know when it comes to photography, it’s time to look at our great destinations for taking your best beach photos.

Other posts in our photography series include:-

How to take the best holiday snaps
Aperture explained

tips for beach photography


Holly is a Production Supervisor at James Villa Holidays.

Since joining James in 2011 I’ve been lucky enough to explore several of our...

See all articles by Holly

See all articles by Holly

Related articles