Aside from baseball, my other favorite summer time activity has to be the beach. During my childhood, as often as humanly possible, my mom would pack the car with beach chairs, boogie boards, towels, sandwiches, sun screen, and all the beach shovels and pails we could find to keep us entertained for hours.
The nice thing about photography at the beach is the amount of light and subjects available to you. The light allows you to shoot with quick shutter speeds to turn a rolling wave into what almost seems like a wall of ice it’s so still. At public beaches, there’s no lack of interesting characters. From the children who are busy at work with their sand castle to the ones who for a day have grown sets of gills and fins, kids are always entertaining. Adults also manage to do the darnedest things, like smearing waaaay too much sun screen onto their child.
If you’re looking for candids without getting caught, you can do a couple of things. First, check your settings! Make sure you bring your ISO to 100 because, like I said before, too much light is the issue you’re going to be facing. For many of my photos, the f-stop is at 5.6 (the limit of my 55-200 Nikor lens), meaning that the shutter speed was up at 1/1000 of a second. After you’ve looked at all of these things, hold your camera in your lap, if you’re sitting, or if you’re standing, place it at your waist. And click. Simple as that. This method is called the Cartier-Bresson street technique. Now, you’re probably going to ask me, “Jen, what about focusing on my subject?” The fun part about your f-stop is the bigger the number, the greater your field of depth. That means even if you focused on the wave crashing, the person getting smacked by that wave (or riding it) should still be in focus.
The second thing you can do is take a picture of the subject when their back is turned towards you. I end up doing this a lot, since I really like the back of people’s heads. That’s not sarcasm, I just can’t think of a better way to put it. The third option is just ask permission. It never hurts to ask, and most people don’t mind being photographed, or letting you photograph their child. Just make sure you explain who you are and why, and carry around business cards so they can view your website. It’s great publicity!