Day at the beach

So last week I talked about the HDR photos I took during a portrait session at the beach two weeks ago.  Well, as cool as those photos were... and they were pretty cool if I do say so myself, what about the portraits I took?  Good question... I'm glad you asked.  You did ask, right?  If you didn't this is going to be really awkward.  I don't want to push these on you.  Okay, I'm just going to pretend you asked and go from there.

So two weeks ago some good friends asked if I would take their family photo, and they wanted to do it at the beach.  No problem I said... then i thought... problem.  Well, it's not really a problem as long as you think about what you want to do and what you want to get ahead of time.  First question I had to ask was "what kind of photo do you want."  The thing about taking photos at the beach is that if you want the water in the picture, you pretty much have to be standing facing east.  Now I know there are inlets, jetties, outcroppings (I don't even know what those things are), etc. that let you get the beach in your shot without facing east, but pretty much you have to face east, with your backs facing west.  So the reason that's a problem is what if they don't want a sunset, or the colors that go along with one, in their photo.  Maybe they don't want to be lit by flash, which you'd pretty much have to do if you're taking a portrait at sunset.  So that means no photos after about 4:00pm.  So they decided that they didn't want sunset and they did potentially want some black and white photos, so we decided on as early as they could tolerate in the morning.  That ended up being about 8:00am.  Remember, the best light in the first part of the day is around sunrise.  Now, I couldn't convince them to get up that early, but I figured I could work with 8:00.  Now since we were facing east, with the ocean behind us, that meant that the sun could potentially be in their face.  We dealt with that by blocking the sun when we could and when we couldn't, I let them close their eyes until right before I was ready to take the shot.  1... 2... 3... OPEN!!  That worked pretty well, but I did have to discard a bunch of photos where eyes were closed or they were making mean faces at me for making them look into the sun.  

Another thing to consider is the colors your subject are going to be wearing.  You don't want them to be a miss-match of colors and textures so they look more like they came out of a clown car rather than preparing for a photo shoot.  Try things that are not too distracting.  Trust me, if you have a portrait of a family and one of the members is wearing bright yellow shirt, that's ALL people are going to notice in the photo.  If you have somebody in stripes and somebody else with circles, that will look weird too.  So consider things that don't scream for attention and make sure they all work together.  They don't all have to be the same color, as we had for this day, but complimentary colors work great.  All earth tones are one of my favorite looks for photos outside, but there are lots of options out there.

Below are some of my favorites from the day. Hope you like them! In fact, let me know what you think at mattshellphoto@gmail.com


1... 2... 3... OPEN YOUR EYES!  That's a great trick to use when your subject have to close their eyes because they're looking into the sun.

Don't forget, all your photos don't have to be in color.  Try experimenting with what works in color and what might make a bigger impact in b&w or even as a duotone image like this one.

Try to shoot all your portraits both in landscape and portrait orientation.  You never know which you'll end up liking better.

Sometimes over or under exposed shots with the sun behind your subjects can make for a really interesting photo.

Sometimes black and white makes for a more interesting photo with more impact.  Take the color out takes out some of the reality.

Don't forget to have fun!!