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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkVallarta Living | Art Talk | February 2009 

Photography Tips of the Week - Photographing at the Beach
email this pageprint this pageemail usLarry & Linda Bennett - PVNN

Photo Tips of the Week are written by Larry Bennett, a professional photographer living in Puerto Vallarta. To view more of his work, visit
Few subjects make warmer memories than your vacation days on the beaches around the Banderas Bay. And few subjects offer more picture taking opportunities and challenges. So let's see what it's going to take to make those vacation memories something to be proud of and to show your friends back home.

Catch the Beach Action

Beach life and antics abound; you need to photograph them to reveal the fun and unique atmosphere found on the beach. Show your friends and family in action, building sand castles, surfing the waves or just sitting holding hands with that special person. Put the viewer of your photos into the scene by shooting the image at the subject's eye level, making it look like your viewer is right there when the photo was taken.

Tell the Story

All images tell a story. Start by when you arrive at the beach, it's a perfect beginning for a photo story. Photograph the entire day and all the fun events including lunch, beach vendors, people, and new friends. As you leave for the day, turn and snap that good bye shot it's an end to a perfect photo story.

Avoid Shadows and Shadowing

Avoid shadows by using the sun. Yes, use the sun. Never shot directly into the sun. Put your subject at least 90 degrees away from the direct sun. Shot when the sun is behind the clouds, when possible, for a softer light.

A cloudy day is my favorite day to take photographs at the beach. Fill flash works wonderful for filling in those facial shadows or for shooting when your subject is in the shade of an umbrella or tree. Most cameras have built in flash units, use them. You will be surprised how that hidden face under a brim of a hat will be brighter if you use your flash.

Include the Water in your Images

Include the water but again use the 90 degree rule to help prevent white out and to give your photos a bluer blue. Including water in your scene can sooth, invigorate and even refresh those sometimes boring beach pictures.

When shooting images of the water, with the water as your subject make sure your horizon is level and in the upper or lower third of your screen, never in the middle. Try it and you will see what I mean when I say this will refresh those boring water photos. I like to place the waters horizon on the lower third while taking sunset photos and the upper third when shooting photographs of boats, people surfing, kids playing, etc.

Some of My Favorite Subjects to Shoot on the Beach

I love the vendors! They are always willing to pose and smile and I always thank them by offering them a cold drink. Beach hangouts, restaurants, fishing piers, boardwalks, and boats always make good subjects. I can fill a flash card pretty easy using these subjects. Also, when photographing people, the rule of thumb is to be polite and ask someone before you take their picture.

Use a Single Use Camera

Single use cameras are great for the day at the beach. Some of the newer ones even shoot underwater. These cameras are very hardy, you can bury them, drop them, let them float on the waves and they still take pretty good images.

Finally you are Home or Back at the Hotel

Clean your equipment. For those of you using high end cameras, please listen. I have sacrificed far too many cameras to the sea gods so please learn from my mistakes, wash your equipment! Take a damp (not wet) towel and wipe it down, everything but your glass. Then dry your camera good with a dry towel. If you have canned air, it is a good idea to use it both prior and after wiping your camera to make sure all the sand is gone.

Photo Tips of the week are written by Larry Bennett, a professional photographer living in Puerto Vallarta. These tips are to be just tips, refer to your cameras owner's manual for specifics on your camera. Readers are welcome to enjoy Larry's website at

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
the included information for research and educational purposes m3 © 2009 BanderasNews ® all rights reserved carpe aestus