I recently hosted a number of Mommy & Me Photography classes and had so much fun teaching tips and tricks to a group of moms who wanted to learn how to take quality photos of their kids. When setting up these classes, I stressed that no fancy equipment was necessary. The only prerequisite was an interest to learn and eagerness to apply the new skills instantly with hands-on guidance by me. Throughout the class I reinforced the process composing a great image by thinking of background, position and light. At the end of one particular class I was asked “What do I do when there is nothing around and the sun is really bright?” My first thought was the beach. With summer quickly approaching I wanted to provide my top 3 beach photography tips that will improve your images instantly.
A beach provides a variety of frame worthy photo opportunities, however it is not short in photography challenges. Depending on the time and location a beach can be crowded, which causes cluttered backgrounds and not so flattering beach goers. As you see in the images below my background is clutter free and celebrates the sand, surf and sky.
Tip #1: Get Low
When working with clients or even my own child you will find me constantly moving into various positions to capture the right angle. Being in a squat or even laying down provides a unique perspective. On a crowded beach you could also use this “low” position to your advantage by minimizing the amount of “clutter” in the background. In the image of the child throwing the rocks I actually used a waterproof go-pro camera, which is a fun creative tool to use at the beach. You can even allow your kids to participate in taking images and capture memories from their perspective.
Tip #2: Details
Detail images really enhance the story of a beach vacation or day trip. Those little things that might only happen at the certain time in life, for example, baby toes in the water, sand on a toddler’s face, a special toy car that is brought everywhere they go. A detail that when you look back marks a certain time and fond memory.
Tip #3: Light (morning, mid-day and evening) Light is one of the most important elements of photography. As a professional photographer I am constantly looking for the best light when working on-location with a client. Capturing the light correctly will transform a good image to great. You might not have the opportunity to be on the beach at the ideal morning or evening light, but you can still take great images during the mid-day sun.
Utilize a sun umbrella, sun tent or even a hat to soften the light on a child’s face and prevent them from squinting and/or having a harsh shadow on their face.
Move around your subject to test where the best light is falling, start with the sun at your back.
Always take more than one image, as soon as you stop that is when a child will crack a smile or make a cute face.
This year has been full of fun and exciting projects. When I was building this post I couldn’t believe all that I accomplished during the past year. I landed my first magazine cover, which was a huge bucket list item for me. Lifestyle photography was a large part of my assignments this year and I was happy to capture images for families and incorporate this style of photography to my new big project, Make & Taste blog. Make & Taste has also brought on food photography assignments and I’m so happy I can apply both styles for one purpose. I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring and grateful for all your support along the way. The below work is a small snippet of my favorite images over the year.
On July 1st, Holl and Lane Magazine will launch the 8th issue and I’m so excited that one of my images was chosen for the cover. The image choose was captured many months ago and I wanted to share some of the behind the scenes images of capturing the cover shot. It was around 30 degrees and my model, Eden, did such a great job managing outfit changes and direction.
Scouting a location for a photo shoot can improve your images as well as your client’s experience. This step allows you to identify certain areas to focus on and arrive with a general idea of the images that you want to create. Physically visiting a location is ideal, but not always possible. When this happens online research is the next best thing. The tips below also apply to anyone looking to photograph their own family or event. Here are some quick tips on what information I gather during a scouting session.
Travel to the location and parking. How easy is it and are there key details needed to find the location. Most of the time I will plug the location into Google Maps app on my phone. I will also cross reference the directions provided on the designated locations website. You want your client to arrive to the location without any problems/frustration so providing information on any current road work, landmarks and where to park are appreciated.
Size of location. If the location has many gathering points, like at a public garden, finding a meeting spot is helpful. Once you and your client are at the designated meeting spot, you can travel to your first backdrop for photos.
Favorite Backdrops. I look for and take photos of different areas for potential shoots. I take a portrait and landscape image and if I really like a spot I will capture different angles. In the example below I used my iPhone 6 to capture these shots. I rarely find the need to take out professional gear for the purposes of the scouting session. During the photo shoot I concentrate on a few, not all, vignettes I find. I tailor the session and location to fit my client’s needs.
Same location, different season. Living in New England, each season can drastically transform a location. If possible, visiting a favorite location throughout the year can offer different perspectives on the same location.
Reference list. There are many ways to store all the information you gather
from a scouting trip and I have recently started using the Evernote App.
You can create “notebooks” for example “Photography Scouting” and attached photos and notes to each item.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments section, I would love to hear from you.
In the meantime here are some images from my latest scouting trip to the Wadsworth Mansion Middletown, CT.
This summer has been full of fun adventures with my family. We traveled to Chatham, MA several times since it’s only a few hours away on Cape Cod. I have been spending summers in Chatham since I was a kid, almost 30 years now, yikes! The most fun was experiencing all the “firsts” with my two year old son. I’m so happy he loves the beach and it was a joy watching him run through the waves and throw rocks into the ocean. Before becoming a mom I would have slept in on vacation, but now that’s not the case. It’s a good thing that I’m a morning person because the 6am wake up wasn’t too much of a shock to the system, especially since we could be walking the beach together by 6:30am. I wanted to share some of my favorite images taken to tell the story of our summer at the beach. Most of these images were shot with my iPhone 6 as I decided to travel light and leave the majority of my gear at home. I’m also including how I pack for a toddler to help any mom’s out there looking for some tips.
Let me know what you think in the comments and don’t forget to follow @nbedardphotog on Instagram to see more images and behind-the-scence of Nicole Bedard Photography.
First thing first, packing. I have always used this secret tool when packing for my son, from infant to toddler. This tool is probably overlooked by most and discarded, so next time you purchase sheets and/or pillow shams, keep the plastic containers. That’s right, I retained the plastic containers and used them to pack clothes, diapers and a baby monitor. Why? It’s a lot easier and faster to find what you are looking for when you can see the items. If you were to pack all the items loosely in the bag you would be digging around and wasting time. Hope this tip helps! Happy packing. (the weekender bag used is by Blue Claw Co.) Here are a few of my favorite images from our family adventures. Early morning walks and digging.