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How to Take Great Photos at the Beach

Home > Everywhere > How To | Photography
by Alice Ribosa (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living on the Sunshine Coast.
Published March 8th 2014
Tips on Nature Photography
If you think the only thing you can get from spending time at the beach is a sun tan, or if you think photography is all about posting selfies on Facebook think again! Australia's beaches provide the perfect opportunity for you to develop your creative self while appreciating nature's unique beauty and diversity.

Nature photography allows you to merge with, and be inspired by, the rhythms of the ocean, sky, fauna, and flora, in an infinite dance celebrating life.

My Top Tips for Taking Photos at the Beach

1) Visit beaches at different times of the day. Most people like to visit the beach in the morning or midday, but some of the most interesting scenes can be captured in the afternoon or just before sunset. While folk in coastal WA can enjoy beautiful sunsets by the beach every day, folk in NSW can head to Trial Bay in South West Rocks to photograph a sunset over the water.

2) Visit secluded or unpopulated beaches and during non-peak holiday times to get a perfect landscape shot.. Some beaches are also famous for their natural rock formations. Examples include the blow-hole at Kiama, NSW, and the Twelve Apostles in VIC. Hyams beach in Jervis Bay, NSW, is said to have the whitest sand in the world.

Smoky Cape beach near the lighthouse at South West Rocks.


3) Check the tides. Visit the beach at low tide to capture reflections off the wet sand. Low tides provide a wide expanse of sand. Flat water provides a feeling of calmness. Choose high tide to get up close to some wild surf.

4) Check the weather. Visit the beach when it is calm and not so gusty. You don't want sand in your eyes or camera! Wind conditions also affect the presence of jellyfish and seaweed on the beach.

5) Include birds or other animals if possible. The animal creates a focal point in the photo. Seabirds such as gulls, pelicans, and sea eagles make good subjects. Some beaches are famous for their animals. Examples include dingoes at Fraser Island, QLD; the camels at Cable Beach, Broome, WA; the penguins at Phillip Island, VIC; and whales at Hervey Bay, QLD.

A lone pelican at South Ballina beach provides the focal point.


6) Be in the moment. Each day is different so be prepared for anything. Staying in the present enhances all five senses and helps you be part of the flow of the natural world around you.

7) Take plenty of shots using different perspectives, angles, and compositions. Remember that everything around you is changing constantly, so stay alert and monitor the ocean and sky until you see that perfect scene appear!

Trial Bay, NSW. Clouds add colour and movement to a photo.


My Top 5 Artistic Elements for Beach Photography:

1) Clouds add movement, colour, and texture to a photo. Sunset clouds can set the sky on fire.

Sunset at Trial Bay, NSW.


2) Lighting the bright midday sun creates vivid colours and high energy. The fading evening sun can create muted/pastel tones and feelings of calm and serenity.

3) Horizon placing the horizon in the centre of a photo can add balance to the composition.

Trial Bay, NSW. The horizon at the centre balances the composition.


4) Sand adds texture, tonal contrast, and depth in a photo. Wet sand can produce a vertical mirror image by reflecting the light.

5) Waves add movement, texture and dramatic expression. Fine sea mist blurs lines to add a soft dreamy quality.


The beach is a natural environment that we all cherish. In Australia, we are lucky to have thousands of beaches to explore!
Exploring Australia's beaches reveals just how each one of them is unique. Nature photography captures this awe-inspiring beauty of forms in motion as a moment in time for all of us to enjoy.
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Your Comment
Am relative new at photography, and still trying to get better at it - thanks for the tips
by Steve Hudson (score: 3|1242) 1097 days ago
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