travel insights
The Ultimate Guide to Taking Beach Photos This Summer
By The Team @ Explorest

The Ultimate Guide to Taking Beach Photos This Summer

We're sharing all of our tips and tricks!

There are a few dead giveaways that it’s summer: the sun sticks around longer, the scent of sunscreen lingers in the air and the temptation of a relaxing beach day seems impossible to resist. With more days of warm weather and dreamy sunsets that kiss the horizon, it's hard not to enjoy having your toes in the sand as you listen to the crash of waves—especially with a camera on hand to capture memories that'll last a lifetime.

No matter which beach you're at in the world (don't forget to check out our guide to the Eight Best Photo Spots in San Diego!), there are a few tips and tricks we swear by to get the best photo. Summer shots not only illustrate the sun-kissed wonder of the season, they also give you the perfect opportunity to hone in on some of your photo skills. Below, we're rounding up the five ways, including our pro tips, to photograph your most Insta-worthy beach photo of the summer.

Choose Your Adventure

Some people are happier to lay on the sand and soak in the sun. Others though? They want to surf, bike, run, play volleyball—the list to chase an endless summer goes on and on! So before venturing out to your location, we recommend deciding on your summer vibe. Are you trying to capture neutral, relaxing photos of the shoreline and landscape? Or would you rather photograph vibrant action shots of the high-energy commotion on the coast. Knowing what you want to photograph beforehand will help you to decide what gear you need to take and how to spend your hours of daylight to get the best beach photos this summer.

Pro tip: Invite a friend along so you always have the option to incorporate a model in your shot. They'll appreciate getting some of their own photos and you'll have even more options than if you were traveling solo.

Sandy Beach Body Surfer

credit: @nolanomura — discover this location in Explorest

Scout out Your Location

Sure, you may not have the guts to go cliff jumping, but even on the calm shore you're able to take full advantage of the beauty of the oceanic landscape and photograph some of the best beach photos. All areas of the coast are photogenic and whether other beachgoers are swimming, surfing or boogie boarding, there’s a good chance you’ll see someone in the water at some point. It could be a friend who uses the opportunity to step into the unknown and swim with the fishes on a sunny day, or it could even be you if you're able to take the plunge and photograph an under-the-sea self-portrait. No matter the scene, use the location to your advantage and explore up and down the shoreline to find the perfect spot to stop and snap your shots.

Pro tip: Use Google Maps before visiting so you can scope out the scene. In 3D mode, you'll be able to see the lay of the land and plan out where you want to start your photoshoot. This will save you time, as well as help you to decide what to pack in terms of gear (like camera and lens) and clothing (like shoes and sun protection).

Cannon Beach view of Haystack Rock

credit: @zachnicholz — discover this location in Explorest

Curate Your Look

Repeat after us: every body is a bikini body! And no matter if you feel like you’re in your prime or not, celebrating the skin you’re in is always in season. Rock a one-piece suit and hat or pose with a group of your friends. If you live in the moment and have fun with it, you're guaranteed to take one of the best beach photos of the summer. And always remember, confidence is the best accessory you can wear.

Pro tip: To avoid crowds, thus giving yourself front-and-center attention, try to go to the beach early in the morning before the beach-goers amass.

Venice Beach Lifeguard Tower

credit: @thelifeofjessica — discover this location in Explorest

Check the Weather

You know how the saying goes—no sunrise or sunset is the same, and if you’re lucky enough, you'll have an entire season of summer to practice taking the best beach photos as the sun dips behind the mesmerizing horizon. Capturing a great sunset also requires a lot of patience, so take your time noticing how the light changes with cascading shades of yellow, pink and orange. We also recommend visiting the beach multiple times a week to practice photographing with the light and notice how the time of day affects your images. And always keep the water in mind! Whatever the weather conditions are that day will be reflected in the water. So if the lighting is bright, your photo could be overexposed and create a glare, instead of a reflection.

This might be the only time we say this, but while you're there, don’t forget to put your camera down! Seaside sunsets are one-of-a-kind and you'll want to be present for a breathtaking moment.

Pro tip: Check the weather conditions the day before you visit and then the morning of so you know exactly what to expect. It also helps to know the exact time of the sunset. If there aren't the right conditions for a sunset, try shooting during the day instead.

Sunset Beach

credit: @vincelimphoto — discover this location in Explorest

Have Fun

Beach or not, the number one photography tip we have is to always have fun! Taking photos should be a relaxing, enjoyable activity. Your technical skillset can improve, but your attitude will dictate the way you feel about the photos you capture. Photos are memories captured in a single frame, so if you make the best of the day, you'll be able to take the best beach photos of the summer.

Pro tip: Set the tone with an uplifting playlist. Listening to lively music can boost your mood, which will translate into the photos you take.

Venice Pride Flag Lifeguard Tower

credit: @tommylundberg — discover this location in Explorest