Picture Perfect Beach Portraits By Tamara Lackey

1 hr 21 min

The beach environment, while beautiful, can present a range of challenges; from harsh light to blowing sand, that can easily take a toll on your subjects, your gear, and yourself. In this class, you’ll learn how to work with families, small children, and couples in ways that make the most of wonderful photography situations. Tamara Lackey will give you tips to help keep your subjects engaged and your gear safe so you can get the perfect shots!

Video transcripts available with a subscription.

Join Tamara on the beach as she goes over all of the concepts that will be covered in this class.
The first shoot involves a family of four on the beach, where Tamara has to manage children while posing the family and working with the environment.
With the family in shade the challenge is to add some light to the subjects to be able to use an exposure that prevents the background from blowing out.
To help manage the energy level of the kids over the course of a shoot it helps to work in smaller groups, so that the family members not in the scene can take a break.
Another way to work with the sun is to use it to backlight your subjects.
Some posing positions may seem unusual to your subjects, but the results on camera can look fantastic.
Some beaches may have tents or cabanas available for use, which make for a great way to escape the harsh sun and wind.
A new family brings a new location and a new time of day. As we move into the later afternoon the light will improve. Seeking out shaded locations for atmospheric shots is a good way to warm up the subjects.
The shady side of a dune can make for a great backlit location while waiting for the sun to sink lower.
The path to the beach can provide lot's of opportunities for fun family interaction.
You've got to be prepared to get wet and covered in sand to get the shot.
Profile photo of Tamara Lackey

Meet your instructor

Tamara Lackey


Tamara Lackey is a renowned portrait photographer and Nikon USA Ambassador whose lifestyle photography, from children’s portraits to celebrity portraits, has appeared in dozens of media outlets, including O - The Oprah Magazine, Men’s Journal, Vogue, Nikon World, The Martha Stewart Show and The Today Show. The recipient of the 2014 W...

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Join the Discussion
  1. Profile photo of pignalchris pignalchris

    Hi Tamara – is there a specific reason beside adding a bit of context to the background that you shot with the pillars ? i am thinking positioning yourself with your back to the sun with the couple at the very edge of the shadow with just the sea in the background, that way the couple is in the shadow, you get maximum bounce from the water and a clean background

  2. Profile photo of Alex Corbett Alex Corbett

    Wonderful class!! always learn something from Tamara..and those kids are adorable!!
    Probably the 4th time I’ve watched the class.

  3. Profile photo of Brandon Vogts Brandon Vogts

    I know the focus here is photography, but would loved to have seen a post-processing segment. The shots turned out great, but I know there’s no way they looked anywhere near the way they did on screen, straight out of camera. As digital photographers, these days most of us tend to shoot with post in mind—we strive for the best shot straight out of camera, but I know a lot of work went into producing the final images and would learn a lot from seeing the SOOC raw files versus the finished product.

  4. Profile photo of Tamara Lackey Tamara Lackey

    Hah, Peter and jh49ers – just saw your comments and I TOTALLY AGREE!!
    Tough enough to have to hurdle one’s voice over the water and elements AND try to get kids’ attention in such a distracting environment – but to do so on a microphone, too? Ack. Hope the advils work. Feel free to check out my Business Side of Tamara Lackey course to hear my normal speaking voice : )

    1. Profile photo of William William

      It would really be useful to see the metadata along with your shots. That’s something we could linger over. I understand the difficulties you faced and would love to have seen you review your shots and see which ones you pick out as keepers after the shoot.

  5. Profile photo of frazzelled frazzelled

    Very hard to hear what settings she used in those outdoor scenes. They were said really quickly, and in Nilkon-ese, so I kept missing them. And they were really the only useful info to be gotten from this course… A bit of a waste of time for me really. But Tamara seems like a really nice lady :)

  6. Profile photo of jh49ers jh49ers

    I’m sure she’s a great photographer. However, she has the most irritating voice I’ve ever heard. I had to turn it off after 15 minutes and pop a handful of Advils.

    1. Profile photo of billydoo billydoo

      I had a hard time watching as well.

  7. Profile photo of Peter Peter

    Terrible voice 😱 I like the way she puts the camera on the sand in part 1 ,6.56

  8. Profile photo of Cindy Cindy

    Wonderful class! Thank you, Tamara. It would be interesting to know how you have your AF points set up, especially for those shots where you were shooting without looking through the view finder. All-points auto, zone, single point?

  9. Profile photo of Philip Bach Philip Bach

    Wow Tamara is flexible for sure. Being 74 I don’t think I could get some of those shots. It was a fun course with many things I can use. Shooting into the sun, getting into the water and having the subjects get into some fun poses. Thanks, Tamara.

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