How to Photograph Your Infant or Toddler at the Beach

Taking photos of your infant or toddler at the beach? All you need is a smartphone and some know how.

A beach is a magical place. There, infants can dip their sandy toes into the foamy ocean water, smell the salty air and feel the breeze tickle their skin. At the beach, toddlers become mermaids, or pirates, or archaeologists, digging moats and collecting treasures like seashells or colorful sea glass.

There are adventures to be had at the shore, and it’s your job as the mom to capture all these precious moments so they can be frozen in time forever. All you need is a smartphone and some know-how to take the best DIY beach photos ever! Here are some elements to consider:

Time of day matters (lighting)

Photographing little humans in the bright afternoon sunshine typically procures two less-than-stellar results: squinty eyes and dark shadows cast by hats or noses. Unless that’s a look you’re striving for, take your kids’ beach portraits at sunrise or sunset when the light is softer and more forgiving. You can also get some really beautiful colors in the sky, which amps up the magic factor. Remember to turn off your flash!

If you happen to be at a beach with trees, or you have your oversized umbrella with you, feel free to snap pics at any time of day – just be sure your toddler or infant is completely within the shaded area.

Beach photography should take place during sunrise or sunset to avoid squinty eyes and dark shadows underneath the eyes.Beach photography should take place during sunrise or sunset to avoid squinty eyes and dark shadows.

Got puddles? Use ’em (composition)

Making water the foreground of your image allows for a super interesting composition. It also gives depth to your photo so that it appears more 3-D than 2-D, according to Digital Photography School.

To grab a playful shot of your baby, seat him or her in a shallow body of water – puddles are perfect. Squat down low so that the puddle fills the bottom half of your frame. Snap as many pics as you can while he or she splashes around joyfully. The more photos you take, the better the chance of nabbing a frameable shot.

To achieve a more serene, artsy photograph, capture your child’s reflection in a puddle. Ideally, you’d position your child behind the puddle so that it’s just out of reach; you want the water as still as possible to get the desired effect.

Safety is of utmost importance – the puddle should be extremely shallow and you or another adult should be within arm’s length of your child at all times.

When it comes to photographing your child at the beach, make water the foreground to get an interesting shot.When it comes to photographing your child at the beach, make water the foreground to get an interesting shot with depth.

Shoot from above (perspective)

From an artistic standpoint, shooting from above offers a unique perspective for most anyone who will look at your finished image. It’s interesting because of its novelty.

From a sentimental standpoint, shooting from above captures you looking down on your baby as you so often do when going about your day-to-day life. Before you know it, you’ll be staring your child square in the eye (or perhaps looking up at him or her!), so it’s a wonderful thing to preserve this fleeting moment in time – as well as those precious ringlet curls.

Feel free to reach your own hand out to your child and snap a shot of him or her holding it. Symbolically, it says a lot, and it’ll really tug on your heart strings in years to come.

One of the best baby picture photo ideas is shooting your child from above.One of the best baby picture pose ideas is shooting your child from above.

Don’t forget the fun (details)

Looking for more baby beach picture ideas? Amp up the fun factor and set the scene by incorporating bright details into your photos. As Cole’s Classroom pointed out, there’s typically an abundance of colorful objects at the beach – inflatable balls and rafts, plastic pails and shovels, towels, ice cream cones with rainbow sprinkles – you get the idea. Use them to add interest or a focal point.

Two poses to try: Drape a towel over your baby’s head, or hold an ice cream cone in front of his or her face, slightly off to the side.

Colorful elements add a fun visual touch to your baby beach photos.Colorful elements add a fun visual touch to your baby beach photos.

When you take time to consider lighting, composition, perspective and details, your photos transcend the ordinary and become extraordinary. You don’t need to be a professional photographer to take dazzling photos of your children – all it takes is a willingness to learn a few beach photography tips and the patience to try and try again until you get it right.

Erin Balsa is a Boston-based mom of two who met her husband on an airplane. Her interests include reading, writing and sleeping through the night.