Holy Crowds Batman!
That up there was the scene that greeted me in La Jolla when I arrived for a shoot last week.
I saw it and thought to myself, “THIS has the makings of a great blog post about how to make a crowded beach look empty!”
If I had to choose an empty beach or a crowded beach for a family photo session, OF COURSE I’d choose the empty beach, but crowds don’t scare me. They just require a little extra care, thought, and planning.
Here are four tips for what to do when you want to take pictures on a crowded beach, but you don’t want a thousand people in the background:
1) Choose a mid-range lens instead of a long zoom! Normally, I LOVE LOVE LOVE my 70-200 lens for beach sessions, but for crowded days, it’s not a great lens to use. With that 70-200 lens, you have to back up from your subject quite a bit. On a crowded beach, you’ll end up with people walking between you and your subject. For this session, I chose my 24-70 lens so I wouldn’t have to be as far away from the people.
2) Choose a location that’s uncomfortable for beach-goers. This may take some walking and exploring, but it’s worth it. This photo shoot had 13 people, so all 14 of us walked for quite a while to get to a spot that was more rocky and not as “easy going” for beach bummin’ folks. I told the group that we’d need to walk & that it would be worth it, and they all agreed (they were scared of the crowds, but they trusted me).
You can see the type of location we chose here:
That image leads me into tip #3:
3) There aren’t as many people in the SKY! Everyone at the beach is on the sand or in the water (usually!). Choose shooting angles where you shoot the water and a lot of sky, like in that image of the dad with his baby boy up there. If you find a rocky spot, it’s pretty likely that there won’t be many people swimming in the water behind your subjects, too! In that image, there are probably at least 20 people in the background, but they’re WAYYYYY far away, so you can’t even tell.
4) Remember that closeups are great, too!
For quite a few shots, I got up close and created some nice closeups for this family:
I still left the beach & water in a lot of them, like this next one, so you can see the beautiful beach, but it’s not a big huge scenic shot:
So, you have my permission to be a little bummed when you show up to a crowded beach, but don’t be scared!!