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10 Fun and Creative Beach Photography Ideas to Try

Last updated: January 18, 2024 - 10 min read
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Coming from a town on the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea, the beach has a special place in my heart. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I’m writing an article about beach photography.
I decided to share w few beach photography ideas for fun and creative images with you. Some of them can even be developed into a family project or be used as activities for the whole family.

 

10 Fun and Creative Beach Photography Ideas to Try

These beach photography ideas help capture the essence of sun, sand, and waves. From playful scenes to mesmerizing seascapes, unleash your creativity. Make beach memories truly unforgettable!

1. Try Miniature Photography With Toy Figures

When we were kids, we used to play a lot at the beach. So why not do it now as adults too?
I took a few Playmobil people. And I tried my hand at photographing miniature scenes of the beach lifestyle. Place the toy on the beach and frame the image like a portrait.
You can apply different composition rules to make the image more interesting. Something I like to do when taking photos of toys in open spaces is to get low.
From a low perspective, the toy will take up more space in the frame. It makes it look bigger than it is in real life.
This is a great chance to get kids involved, whether it’s your own child, nephews, nieces, etc. Get them interested in photography. Or just spend quality time and have fun playing together.

A Playmobil character with a surfboard posed on a rocky beach
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

2. Tell a Beach Story With a Series of Photos

Another idea is to create a story through photos. You can take three or four photos that follow a motif, plot, or development. The story doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate.
In fact, the simpler the story, the better. It will be easier to understand by viewers.
You can take photos of the kids building a sand castle. Photos could be of them digging in the sand and piling it up. And then you could show the castle finished and them destroying it.
You can also take photos documenting your day at the beach. Take pictures of friends and family placing their towels, enjoying the sun, swimming, playing in the water, looking at the sunset, etc.
You can go one step further after you get used to building little stories. Try to keep using the same shooting style throughout your photos. This gives them a sense of uniformity as a series of photos.
Use the same camera, lens, and settings (as much as possible). And if you edit your photos, give them the same look. You can even create or use a preset in editing software.

Triptych of beach photos of a couple running and sandcastles being built
Photos by Yehor Serdiuk (Adobe Stock)

 

3. Take Creative Pictures With LED Lights Fairy Lights

Nowadays, getting LED lights that work on batteries is easy and affordable. Thanks to that and their portability, you can easily take them to the beach to play with.
The perfect time is sunrise or sunset. There’s still natural light, but it is not too strong to overwhelm the LEDs. The beach is perfect because there aren’t too many artificial light sources.
If you can, bring a jar or any other transparent object to put the lights inside. You can create fantasy scenes or dreamy photos as if you are collecting or releasing stars or fairies.
If you use a shallow depth of field (an aperture of f/4 or below), the out-of-focus LED lights will create a nice bokeh effect.
Other beach photography ideas you can try are holding the lights in your hands, placing them around your body, or arranging them on the ground. Or have another person hold one end of them.

A person standing and facing the ocean, holding fairy lights behind them on a beach a sunset
(Adobe Stock)

 

4. Draw or Write in the Sand

Don’t worry if you want to be creative and don’t have the equipment from the previous photography tips, don’t worry. All you need for this one is a stick (or just your finger) and a clear area of sand.
Draw simple shapes like hearts or arrows. Or write the date, the name of the place you are, or your favorite quote! You can even combine the drawing with your model and get a unique portrait.

A child drawing a sun in sand on a beach by the ocean
Photo by Kostia (Adobe Stock)

 

5. Try Long-Exposure Photography

Long-exposure photography requires more equipment than the other ideas. But it is totally worth it!
Long-exposure photography is done by opening the shutter speed for a long period of time. Doing this makes the moving subjects in the frame look silky.
The effect looks especially beautiful with water and clouds. The beach is a perfect place for this type of photography.
You will need a tripod and filters. The tripod helps you to keep the camera steady.

A long-exposure photo of an ocean cover from above with a beach and rock formations
Shot with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. 50mm, f/22, 4 seconds, ISO 100. Photo by Mirko Fabian (Unsplash)

 

As for the filters, the shutter speed is so low. So even if you set the ISO as low as possible and closed the aperture, you would still get overexposed photos.
Filters allow you to block the excess light. For this, you need neutral density (ND) filters. And they can be attached to your lens (like protection filters) or come with a filter holder.
ND filters block different light intensities. And some block light in a gradient.
I recommend you go to your local supplier’s store and ask them for a basic set of filters to play around with. See if you like long exposure before investing in an expensive set of filters.
Long exposures require you to slow down, set up a tripod, and practice. Besides your long-exposure equipment, bring your beach towel and something to drink. Enjoy the moment!

6. Have a Family Photoshoot at the Beach

Family beach pictures always hold beautiful memories. I always take more classic-looking portraits during my photo sessions because they are timeless. And clients like them a lot
But I combine them with not-so-typical family portraits to make sessions special. It doesn’t have to be complicated. For instance, tell them to sit and look at the sea while you take photos from behind.

A calm beach photo of a couple sitting and a small dog on the sand and gazing into the sea
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

Another idea is to take photos of baby trinkets. Tell the parents to hold the little shoes and an object with the baby’s name. With the sea in the background, it can be a beautiful family memory!
Close-up of a person holding a baby's shoes and name necklace on a beach photoshoot
Close-up with a name necklace. © Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

7. Look for Summer Symbols to Focus On

Certain objects around the beach will say “summer” to you. For me, parasols, bicycles, and Frisbees do this.
Try to take original photos of these meaningful, common objects. Take photos from unusual perspectives, play with color combinations or reflections, fill the frame, leave negative space, etc.

Serene beach photo of deckchairs and umbrella with the sea in the background
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

Have fun experimenting. You’ll be surprised by your results!
For example, you can have lots of fun with no more than your sunglasses. Put them in the sun and take photos of the reflections on them.
This is a great way to take a self-portrait or, if you are with others, even a group photo. And depending on the type of glasses, you can also capture the colors of the sky during twilight.
A pair of green framed sunglasses resting on the sand with the photographers reflection in one glass, cool beach photography ideas.
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

8. Use a Beach Background for Art

If you like arts and crafts, you can use the beach as a background to show off creations. This works well with nature-related art or crafts.
The sea and the sand are great backdrop elements. They add a bit of color without too many distracting elements.
If you want to try this beach photography idea, I recommend you do it during sunrise or sunset. That’s when the light and colors are softer. So you’ll avoid hard shadows over the art.

A DIY photo holder made from beach stones on the sand, a fabulous seascape in the background
This is a DIY photo holder I like to make using beach stones. © Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

9. Sun Stars and Silhouettes

Sunrises and sunsets are perfect for playing with “sun stars” and silhouettes. The sun is low, and its light comes at an angle. Both of these effects require backlighting.
To get backlight, you should face your camera toward the sun with the model between the camera and the sun. When the model blocks the sun completely, you get a silhouette.
Measure the exposure and adjust your camera settings according to the background. This ensures your model will appear totally black, like a shadow.
Maybe you prefer a less black silhouette so viewers can still see some of your model’s details. If so, you can play a bit with the settings and take the photo with a slightly high background exposure.

The silhouette of a person posing fro beach photography, a fabulous seascape and sunset in the background
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

Sun stars (starbursts) are easier to get when the sun is peaking from behind something like your model. Close the aperture—around f/14 is a good starting point.
Next, check if you need to readjust the camera settings for proper exposure. Then choose a focus, point, and shoot.
Something very important. Avoid looking directly at the sun while taking the photo. Doing this can seriously damage your eyes.

10. Photogarph a Message in a Bottle

You can create a photo of treasure from the depths with a little imagination and craft materials. In this case, it would be a message in a bottle.
All you need is a clear glass bottle with a cork, a piece of paper, and twine. I used a special bottle with LED lights, but without would work just fine.
I wanted a classic simple bottle. So I used a white-wine bottle. But you can find other, fancier ones. You can just roll up a piece of paper and put it in the bottle.

An SOS message inside a bottle in the sand - cool beach photography ideas
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

But you can also write a little message on the paper, making it look more authentic. And you can get an awesome ancient scroll effect. Just brush it with lemon juice and burn its edges a little bit.
A pirate note inside a bottle in the sand as one of many cool beach photography ideas
© Sarah Rodriguez-Martinez

 

Once the prop is ready, you can photograph it partly buried in the sand or floating in the water. And if you are with kids (or adults), you can take photos of them finding it.
Another use for the message in a bottle is to convey an actual message. Maybe create event invitations and later share the photo with your guests to inform them about the time and location!

Conclusion: Beach Photography Ideas to Try

The beach is a great place to try new ideas and let your creativity run wild. You can use props, build scenes, and create stories. The list can go on!
You can also try new photography techniques like long exposure and creating silhouettes and sun stars. Just remember to take sunscreen and water to avoid getting dehydrated! Be safe and have fun!
Do you want more creative inspiration for the beach? Check out our post on how to do a mermaid photoshoot next!