Lighting and Posing Tips for Summer Days

Summer days call for taking photos on the beach! Make the most of this season with these lighting and posing tips for beach portraits.
Whether you’re hosting professional photo sessions or you want to capture your holidays, these tips will help you improve your beach photography.

Beach Portraits – Lighting Tips
Shoot at the golden hour
Credit: Free Stock Pro
The golden hours are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset. This is when the sun is close to the horizon, so the light is soft and, most importantly, warm.
If you want the wonderful warm tones typical of a summer beach scene in your photos, choose one of these two times of day. In the morning, it will probably be less crowded.

Position is key
Credit: Patricia Prudente
The direction of light and how it hits your subject is very important for a successful portrait.
You’ve probably heard that you should avoid the midday sun, and it’s better to shoot early or late in the day because the sun is closer to the horizon.
Yes, but what if the sun is behind your subject? Then, you’ll have an overexposed background unless you modify the light – more on that later. Having the sun in front isn’t ideal either because your subject will be squinting.
The best way to position your subject is to make the sunlight hit them from the side.
Use sunsets for a silhouette
Credit: Nattu Adnan
Before I move on to more complex lighting techniques, let me tell you that having the sun at the back of the subject is not always a bad thing.
Instead of overexposing the background, you need to underexpose the subject. This will create a dramatic sky that frames a beautiful silhouette.

Find shade
Credit: Jenna Anderson
Sometimes, you can’t control what time you’re taking your photos, and you’re not carrying lighting accessories with you. In that case, the easiest way to soften the light is to shoot in a shaded spot.
Whether you stand under a pier, a beach umbrella, or next to a hotel building that casts a shadow, being in full shade will avoid casting unflattering shadows on your subject’s face.
Light modifiers
Credit: Cottonbro
Light modifiers are very helpful in beach photography. You can use a diffuser to soften the sunlight or a reflector to fill the shadows.
In both cases, you minimize the contrast between highlights and shadows. By doing so, you soften the transition, which will create a more flattering light for your subject.

Add flash


Beach Portraits – Posing Tips
Now that you know how to light your models, it’s time for you to direct them.
Here are some posing ideas that will help you not only on a professional or casual photoshoot but also in taking better pictures of your friends, family, and yourself.
Using props
Credit: Lola Russian
Props are a great way to showcase the personality of your subject in the photo and make the pictures unique.
They’re also ideal for non-professional models who feel awkward in front of the camera. Plus, they’ll open up a world of possibilities for your composition.
Hands on the waist
Credit: Norbert Buduczki
Let’s start with a classic pose: standing in front of the camera. The person can face forward or turn the body 45 degrees. Now, ask them to put their hands on their waists.
Bending the elbows creates a separation from the body, making it a more flattering pose. The angles make it a more dynamic photo.

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Also, hands are the most difficult part to pose – here, you won’t have any problems, even if they’re not professional models.
Sitting, bending your knees
Credit: Toa Heftiba
Bending the knees has the same effect as bending the elbows – by creating angles, you help the viewer navigate the photo, making it more dynamic.
When the model is sitting on the sand, ask them to bend one or both knees – if it’s a group, you can mix and match. This pose works for all genders and ages.

Lean back on your elbows
Credit: Richiardus
A great pose for beach portraits is to lean back on your elbows. You can look away toward the horizon or over your shoulder toward the camera.
Credit: Marcin Skalij
The beach is a place for fun activities and all types of sports. So, why pose your subjects when you can give them activities or use prompts?
They don’t need to be expert yoga instructors performing the perfect asana – simply ask them to jump, run, or do a cartwheel.
Get your feet wet
Credit: Jenna Anderson
Another classic beach portrait is of a person just at the edge of the beach, where the tide gets their feet wet with every wave.
You can have them pose there or simply walk along if they prefer something that looks more casual.
Playing in the ocean
Credit: Archie Binamira
One of the most fun and vibrant portraits you can do at the beach is in the water. If it’s a single subject, they can jump out of the water or take a dive from a nearby rock.
When the person has long hair, you can do the classic hair splash when heading out of the water. Groups can splash each other, and portrait subjects can piggyback. There are tons of possibilities for all types of portraits.

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio
You can get a portrait sunbathing if you want a more peaceful feeling. You can use a hammock, a beach chair, or simply a beach towel. The colors and design of these props can help you customize the look.
Belly down
Credit: Andrea Piacquadio
Another sunbathing pose that doesn’t require props is lying down with your belly on the sand. You can also choose to use a towel to add a pop of color.
You can take the picture from the front or the side.
Credit: The Digital Dreem
If the water is calm enough, you can try having just half the model underwater. This way, you’ll have half the face in the portrait. This is a perfect opportunity to play with reflections, too.

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