Tips for shooting images at the seaside

posted on 2nd of september, 2009

You guessed, I will talk about how you can take successful stock photos on your vacation. All you need is a camera and your eyes.
(in order not to have any feeling hurt in this article I will only use my images for exemplification)

The main idea when making images for stock is to think stock, for example if I am on the beach and I want a stock photo I either look for a way to make a landscape with no people in it if the light allows me to, like in this picture with the umbrella, the white sand and the blue sea, or the one showing the shoreline (this was taken in rather remote location where there were very few people), OR I shoot an image with people but also with a concept incorporated like this photo of lovers looking at the sea.
Some images will be successful for their great looks in terms of colors and composition others for their concept. Of course you can't always be a photographic genius, for example this one is not such a great concept, the only thing that attracts is the colors but the composition is there, a medium image that might attract sales however.

What I am trying to point out that thinking stock means, no harsh big shadows, no blown areas, compositions that are attractive, no misplaced objects or people and if you do have people in the image have a concept, simple portraits made in our vacations hardly ever sell.
This is a vacation portrait, but has a mood, has the sadness of saying goodbye and the angle of the shoot also helps.
All these images brought me sales thanks to concept and composition. For all the years I've been working as an editor and I still can not decide which is more important in the end, concept or composition, although the balance seems to be moving towards concept, than again, even a great concept won't bale you out of a lousy composition. So, you see, it's very important to have both, it's like the stock mantra, then come lighting, noise reduction and other things.

Another moment people shoot a lot is either the sunrise or the sunset. Again, composition is important, here on the left I have a sunrise, it is centered but that small boat on the sea balances the composition, also the horizon should not be exactly in the middle, that kind of makes the image flat. Having something else other than the sun, sea and sky in your image will help it look more in 3d and less like a oil painting. What you also need to remember is that when shooting a sunrise you have to set your camera on manual, or you will have the sun and the rest will be black, and that is not very appealing in stock. Actually, you need to try and have as little black as possible without blowing up the sky and the sun itself. Try more exposures for your sunrise, don't limit to one image AND use a tripod, or a big backpack, it will make your image straight, tilting horizons are not appealing ... at all. In this image, the waves are still visible even if the sun is barely rising

Be creative with the sunrise, here is and image that sells thanks to the very simple, yet very strong message, power, energy and man.

This last image, the sun goddess, is a composition of two images created in an editing software with layers and masks. I had fun doing it and it turned out ok in terms of sales, so don't avoid being creative.

When shooting the sunset same things apply, color may differ a bit, depending on the atmosphere.

Other things that you can shoot are water sports, waves breaking or rocky shores, boats sailing, just make sure your composition and concept are there, don't tilt your horizon, this is the most frequent mistake in images taken at the seaside, and be careful with the light, shooting in midday might not be such a great idea.

And if you shoot portraits/people, and the light is to strong use the flash on your camera for fill, remember you can turn your camera upside down as well, it might be odd but it will turn you holiday snapshot into a stock worthy image.

Happy shooting and too many approvals.

Comments (24)

Posted by Georgemuresan on September 07, 2009
Hi Nikitu, you are right about the eyes, it is written:

Luke 11:34 -  The light of the body is the eye: when your eye is true, all your body is full of light; but when it is evil, your body is dark.
35.  So take care that the light which is in you is not dark.
36.  If, then, all your body is light, with no part of it dark, it will be completely full of light, as when a flame with its bright shining gives you light. Good work Nikitu.
Posted by Jameskho on September 03, 2009
That's a great tip thanks Ioana. I will experiment with that approach. I believe the accuracy of assessing the light with my own eyes needs to be built up through experience. Thanks again !
Posted by Deborah79 on September 03, 2009
I will follow your suggestion for my next travel photos..Thanks!
Posted by Justmeyo on September 03, 2009
Great article and exceptional photos,thanks for tips also
Posted by Nikitu on September 03, 2009
Well, I don't remember it by heart and don't have it anymore. I used a lot when I did all manual work, on film on an old camera. But if you use your camera to measure the exposure on the sun and on the ground the correct exposure for a good sunset would be somewhere in between these values.
What will really bring you experience is assessing the light with your own eyes and think in photographic terms (like in the joke). And more tries, never limit to one or two.
Posted by Jameskho on September 03, 2009
Thanks Ioana for the tips, do you mind sharing the list for me to improve further ?:)
Posted by Asyan on September 03, 2009
Posted by Nikitu on September 03, 2009
You know, there was a joke about a photographer and his girlfriend watching the sunset on a beach. And he was thinking "here I am with the woman I love and I'm thinking f8 with 1/250"
Posted by Noonie on September 02, 2009
Could I borrow your list since you don't need it anymore?
Posted by Wildmac on September 02, 2009
Great article! Thank you Ioana. Looking forward to the next chapters, but relax and have a great holiday first :0)
Posted by Dmccale on September 02, 2009
great post and awesome photos
Posted by Picstudio on September 02, 2009
beautiful pics, your composition is great.
Posted by Aginger on September 02, 2009
Great photos with good tips, thank you
Posted by Mani33 on September 02, 2009
Thanks ;)
Posted by Nikitu on September 02, 2009
Jameskho, for a while I kept in my photo bag a list of exposure times and aperture together with a vital things to do when you shoot (well it was very long ago), and I found that very helpful.

Yes Maen, I couldn't let you down now, could I?!
Posted by Mani33 on September 02, 2009
I knew you won't do it after the retirement :))
Posted by Jameskho on September 02, 2009
Thanks for your very informative article. I am sure it would be helpful to keep those tips in mind before attempting the shots. Think stock ! I too have some difficulties getting focus and composition right while shooting flowers and macro stuff. Looking forward to read your upcoming articles ! Happy vacation !
Posted by Nikitu on September 02, 2009
I'll put it on the list, actually, even if it's such a well covered subject few images are really great, so I'll cover this subject when I am back.
Posted by Asyan on September 02, 2009
Ok. Right now I'm trying to shoot flowers, but It's seems like I have problems whit focus and composition and I think a article about shooting flowers in nature will be welcome, but this after you come back from your well deserved vacation, now you need to rest, relax and have some fun :)
Posted by Nikitu on September 02, 2009
Adamjw, also important, don't forget the sunscreen :)
Asyan, I hope I will continue with articles like this one, that are helpful. I would also be happy to take requests about certain subjects that you find difficult to shoot.
Posted by Asyan on September 02, 2009
Stock bible… sounds like a very good idea...ok… you can put me on the "followers" list! :D
Posted by Adamjw on September 02, 2009
very helpful info. I am having a seaside break shortly and will keep all this in mind.Thanks
Posted by Nikitu on September 02, 2009
I'm on vacation from Saturday, till then I am still working, besides someone here asked for a stock bible so I thought I might write the first chapters :D.
Posted by Asyan on September 02, 2009
Thank you, it was useful! But you supposed to prepare yourself for your vacation right now, how come you are still writing blogs? :)

Comments (24)

This article has been read 2223 times. 12 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Ioana Grecu.

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Senior Editor/Admin and Social Media Wizard at Dreamstime. I have enjoyed photography ever since my father first introduced me in the world of arts as a child. Although I have not chosen a career as a photographer I happened to come across a job here, at your favorite microstock site, in 2005. That is when things took a 180 degrees turn and photography took its well deserved place in my life. I have seen hundreds if not thousands of photographers grow and mature into their portfolios and that is an experience I would never trade. I would encourage anyone to follow their hearts and read a l... [Read more]

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