Top tips and advice for better beach shots.
Do you want to brush up on your beach photography skills? Or have you ever wanted to know what goes on behind the scenes during a photoshoot?....
Here I list a few pieces of advice and tips to get the most out of your beach photography session. Although I am not a professional photographer, I am an entrepreneur and self-confessed beach bum, so some of these tips will be from my perspective as an island apparel brand owner.
What details are important to me, what elements do I look for in the backdrop/scenery, how to showcase a product in a natural way etc.
I have also asked some interesting questions to the talented photographer who captured these AMAZING shots on the most recent shoot for Dushi Designs.
She has some great advice for you so keep scrolling!
Everytime I plan a photoshoot I always create a mood board for inspiration. I consider each and every detail from location to props to poses to angles and even facial expressions that I want to capture.
Each shot has to represent the brand in the right way and emit those island vibes that are synonymous with Dushi Designs.
Although I tend to plan my shoots months in advance, this one was more of a spur of the moment kinda thing.
It has been my goal for the longest time to work with a female photographer on the island but Aruba's photography scene is mostly male dominated. My two favourite island girl photographers, Shadee & Melissa are both studying in Holland so I have been kind of stumped on who else I could shoot with.
I have collaborated with many different talented guys over the last few years, each one brings something new to the table, each has their own unique style and editing process and I have to say that although the majority of the shoots have been amazing, there have been a couple of times when I have felt that maybe a female photographer would be better suited to what I am looking for.
When it comes to photography I guess there are no rules as such. Each shoot is completely different and depends on the location, purpose of the photoshoot etc.
Here's some general advice specifically for beach photography and then a few of my own tips for shooting at the beach.
TOP TIPS FOR BEACH PHOTOGRAPHY
1. Timing is everything. Early in the morning gives the best light as the sun is lower and closer to the horizon and late afternoon, just before the sun goes down, you have the well known "golden hour". Not only is the lighting beautiful at these times of day, chances are the beach will be less crowded too.
2. Look around you, use your imagination and get creative. If you didn't bring any props to the beach then incorporate what's already around you... Sand, seashells, pebbles, a fallen palm leaf (don't go snapping one off the tree though!) use these in the foreground to create a frame around your subject.
3. Get your horizons straight. Aim to get these as straight as possible but don't beat yourself up if it's slightly off, this can be leveled out in the editing process.
4. The beach is beautiful and you might be tempted to focus on the sand and sea... But those shots can get boring, so try adding in a boat that's washed ashore, a colourful lifeguard station, a pier/jetty etc. Use what's around you to tell a story. For example if there is a nice walkway or path to the beach you could have someone jogging away from you towards the beach and then looking back over their shoulder, beckoning you to join them.
5. Don't let the weather ruin your shoot. If you was praying and hoping for glorious sunshine but you arrive at the beach to find less than "perfect" weather you can always try and take a few creative shots anyway. Get under a beach hut and capture the raindrops falling from the palapa, a stormy sky can make a dramatic impact so shoot away as those dark and moody clouds come rolling in.
Never a let an opportunity pass you by...
As they say, "A day at the beach is never wasted!".
My mind is constantly swirling with ideas and a million different concepts when it comes to photoshoots but there are some specific things that I want (and need) each shot to capture.
Here is a list of my personal personal criteria when it comes to photoshoots.
Must include a clear view of the product and/or slogan.
As I am in the business of selling apparel I need people and potential customers to be able to see the item so they know for sure what they are purchasing. A close up shot of a girl or guys face may look beautiful but when the slogan on the t-shirt has been cropped off then I cannot use that shot on my website, online store or social media. Also the colour must be a true representation so the editing process has to be mindful of this. As much as I love those vintage style filters and presets... They just simply don't work with product photography.
Product must be shown "natural" as well as styled.
One "issue" that I repeatedly come across at shoots is that the girls LOVE to hoist up their t-shirts and tie them in a knot making the unisex tee a tight fitting cropped top... Although this look is super cute and sexy it doesn't show my customers the real length/size/fit of the tee. So I like to show a mixture of shots of one product... T-shirt worn loose, t-shirt tucked in, t-shirt tied in a knot, t-shirt with sleeves rolled up etc... You get the idea. I love to ask the models how they would personally wear it too, I respect and appreciate their input and value their own sense of style.
Capture model mid-laugh.
This is one of my all time favourite shots to capture during a shoot and I find these are usually taken before or after the model has "posed". For me these are candid moments and they instantly make me smile when I see them. Sometimes I will be standing behind the photographer telling a stupid joke or saying something silly to catch the model off guard to get one of those mid-laugh shots. Or you know that thing you do when you fake a laugh and then it actually turns into a real belly laugh?... We all do that right?! Or is that just me?!!!!
Make sure the aqua colour of the sea is in frame.
Dushi Designs brand colours include a vibrant pop of aqua blue so by making sure the Caribbean Sea is visible in the shot is really important to me. And of course we live on One Happy Island... Famous for it's beautiful beaches... So obviously I want to showcase the pristine sand and sea!
Add a tropical prop.
Palm trees and pineapples instantly say "island vibes" and this is exactly what I want my pictures to say to you! If you take a peek at my insta feed you will see that I post a lot of those kind of shots. Why? Because Dushi Designs is an island-inspired apparel brand. Yes, I sell t-shirts and beach accessories but I also want to mentally transport you to an island paradise every time you see Dushi Designs. By incorporating these things as props in to a shoot adds a dose of tropical goodness that is guaranteed to give island-lust every time.
BEHIND THE SCENES:
When I first stumbled across Quinty on Instagram I instantly did a little happy dance because I was so pleased to see a female photographer smashing it on the island.
Sadly though, I never reached out to her because I naively assumed she only did family photography and I thought she would probably not want to do a shoot for Dushi Designs.
So I just continued to admire her work from afar, that was until last month when she announced she would be leaving the island!!!!
*cue the panic and hysteria*
Immediately I sent her a DM and asked her if she had any free time to squeeze me in before she boards the plane and is out of here... Luckily she said "YES!"
*cue the cartwheels and cheers*
Being on a tight schedule meant that I did not have as much time as usual to plan and prepare so it was a case of picking a location on the island and putting together the fastest Pinterest board I have ever made!
Now all I needed to do was find a model....
Jenzully did a collab for Dushi Designs a long time ago but I never got the opportunity to arrange another shoot with her until now. Thankfully all our diaries matched and we fixed a date, time and place. The shoot was now ON!
We met at Aruba's most famous and photographed tree on Eagle Beach and straight away I got the vibe that this was going to be a great day. You know that feeling you get when you meet someone for the first time and you just sense a good positive energy? That's exactly how I felt when I met both Quinty and Jenzully.
The shoot started right away. I had the outfit changes and props, Jenzully brought some accessories and Quinty had the camera in her hands ready to get those killer shots!
It was fast-paced, Quinty was clicking away, Jenzully was moving and flowing, and I was standing in the background in awe, thinking "WOW! This is the kind of shoot I have been dreaming of!"
We managed to shoot at three locations in total. We got the obligatory palm trees and of course it wouldn't be a Dushi Designs shoot unless a juicy pineapple made an appearance!
This time I wanted to feature the pineapple a little more in the shots instead of it just being placed by the products or laying on the sand. I had the idea to throw the pineapple at Jenzully off camera and then she catch it in frame. My first idea was for a coconut but I couldn't find any laying around on the ground and I didn't quite fancy shimmying up a tree to get one!
It took quite a few attempts to get "THE" shot, and there was a few times that I almost had Jenzully's eye out with the pineapple crown because I threw it a little too hard or high (oops!) but in the end it was a team effort and we all nailed it!
From this entire shoot (which, by the way, was over 1000 awesome shots that I had to narrow down to just 40) I have to say that my absolute favourite is this one:
To me, this says, "DUSHI VIBES" in one single photo!
It has everything I would want in a shot:
Sea in the background ✔️
Tropical palm tree ✔️
Candid moment ✔️
Happy girl laughing ✔️
Blue sky ✔️
Shadow on the sand ✔️
No one in the background ✔️
T-shirt worn natural ✔️
Features a pineapple ✔️
Tells a story ✔️
This scene is perfect to me. It has all the elements to make you stop and think,
"This. Is. Island. Life."
But you know what's funny..... You can't even see the graphic on the front of the t-shirt that I am trying to sell!!!!! Ha! Ha! Ha! Ha!
But I still LOVE IT anyway!!!!
It just goes to show that rules are made to be broken, right?
This shoot was honestly so much fun!
Jenzully was a dream to work with, she knew exactly what I wanted and Quinty knew all the angles to get the best for my products whilst reflecting the brand ethos. She kept referring back to the mood board that I had created so we knew exactly what shots to prepare for next. Jenzully was as fast as Superman getting changed in a phonebox, so we was able to get multiple different products shot at lightning speed.
We all laughed and giggled and shared stories as we got to know each other better which definitely made us all feel more confident and comfortable too.
I would definitely rate this beach photoshoot 10/10!
I highly recommend Quinty. She is so talented and delivered exactly what I was hoping for and MORE. I just wish she didn't have to leave the island and could stay longer so we could squeeze in more shoots together!
Until then, I have these gorgeous images to swoon over and I know for sure I will be working with Jenzully again!
MOMENTS BY QUINTY
1. How/When did you get in to photography?
I have always loved photographing. I got my first camera on my 16th birthday and practiced the basic photography skills a lot. I did shoots in the weekends, besides to my school, and later beside my full time job. When I was 18 I invented the name Moments by Quinty. When I moved to Aruba in May 2018 I was a little afraid to make photography my job here. I wasn’t quite sure about my quality, so I first asked my friends for shoots and they loved the pictures and recommended me to other people. Last April I made a Facebook and Instagram page for my photography and it is growing really fast! I got a lot of requests via social media, so from last April I am busy improving my own business and I really love it.
2. What brought you to Aruba?
My husband is a Dutch Marine and is stationed on Aruba for 1,5 year. So I am one of the lucky Marine wives! When I was studying I always told him that when I graduate I want to go to Aruba when we have the chance to, and here we are!
3. Which type of camera do you shoot with?
I always shoot with the Nikon D750, and I just bought a new one: the Nikon D850, really excited for this! Most of my shots are captured with the Tamron 24-70 G2 lens, because I like to show the beautiful island in the background and this lens is able to make both wide shots and close-ups. I also use the Sigma 70-200 for more close up. I am addicted to finding the best gear so I can keep my quality high.
4. When is the best time of day to shoot at the beach?
I only do photoshoots in the early morning, around 8am and just before sunset. This is named golden hour, the pictures will get more ‘warmer’ colors at this time. Instead of this, in the early morning you will get the beautiful bright blue color of the sea. I never shoot in the middle of the day. The reason for this is that the sun is really high and the light very hard, this will make very weird shadows in people’s faces. And it is also very hot, haha.
5. What settings do you recommend to use on your camera?
There is not only one setting for a good shot. It really depends on the combination the light and the picture you have in mind. I always shoot in Manual mode, which means I adjust all settings by myself, I never use automode. I use my settings in a way that they will fit my style and that is not possible when shooting in automode, because the camera will choose the setting by itself. Tip for any starting photographer: don’t be afraid and practice with the manual mode!
6. How do you get your clients/models to relax so you get those candid shots?
When I meet my clients I give them a honest compliment, because they all look fabulous when coming for the photoshoot. I also keep talking with them, I show interest in who they are and keep them laughing the whole session. But this is not something I set up before, it is just who I am. What I like about my job is meeting new people and get to know them. While making pictures I keep talking to them, I tell them they’re doing great, give them advice for posing. I just don’t want silences because it gives them time to feel uncomfortable.
7. If you had to choose just one shot from the Dushi Designs shoot, which one is your favourite and why?
Ohhh that is a rude one! I really loved the entire session, from the shoot itself to the results! And I really loved the model, Jenzully, she was so nice and easy to work with. If I really have to choose, I’ll go for the one at the Fofoti tree. This one is really characteristic for the island and I love the vibe on the picture, there is movement in it, happiness and I love the sand going through her fingers.
8. What Is your favorite shooting location?
Haha, I have many. But my most favorite is Boca Catalina, this beach shows the many different sides of Aruba: it has grass, trees, palapas, palm trees, rocks, cactuses and a beautiful white beach. So if you want to capture Aruba in one location, this is the place to be!
If you have any photography tips or tricks or advice for shooting at the beach please leave a comment as it may be really useful for others who read this blog in the future.
You can find out more about Quinty and request a shoot via her website:
Follow Quinty on Instagram:
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To shop the looks featured in this blog please click on the photos or click the link below:
Camera Equipment used by Quinty:
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