Tips for Photographing the Coastal Landscape

Tips for Photographing the Coastal Landscape

Drawn to the seaside

Photographers are frequently drawn to our coasts and shores, with such a wealth of subjects to photograph, you can see why; spectacular sunsets and sunrises over large expanses of sky and sea, the dramatic motion of  the sea and waves in a storm, a serene fishing harbour, or just walking along the shore when the tides out photographing the wildlife and birds.

Same rules

The same ‘rules’ still apply when photographing our coasts and sea-shores as with any other landscapes; a good tripod or monopod for those dramatic sunsets and seascapes to help prevent camera shake, ‘the rule of thirds’ to get a more interesting picture rather than having the horizon exactly in the centre of your image, and a level horizon for better composition.


Low tide on the Essex coast UK. © A Webber


Some coastal areas have big tidal ranges; knowing the times and dates of the tides is crucial so you can plan your trip for the type of  photography you want to do. Keep a copy of the the local tide tables so you can plan your trip and to prevent yourself from getting stranded at low tide.

I live near the coast and love the spring tides, there’s always so much more subject matter for photographing. When the tide is high there’s so much more activity on the water such as fishing boats, private yachts of all shapes and sizes, and, wind and kite surfers; they’re always good for getting an action shot. When the tide is at it’s lowest (as in the picture above), there’s just as much to photograph such as wading birds, jetsam on the shore, moored boats tilted on there sides, and, of course, the large open skys and sunsets.

House boats. © A Webber

Cornwall © A Webber


The light on our coasts can vary from moody Autumn fog and mists blowing onshore, to colourful dramatic sunsets. Try looking for reflections, not just on the water, but on a wet beach, or mud flats and rock pools when the tide has receded.

Sunset at low tide. © A Webber

Different shores

Coasts and seashores vary depending on where you live, but there’s always something of interest to capture; waves breaking on a rocky shore during a Winter storm can make a dramatic picture. That same rocky shore, on a calm Summer day offers us quite different subjects to shoot, such as rock pools full of  life and vegitation exposed on the rocks.

Sun bleached drift wood © A Webber

Here’s what other photographers have captured on our coasts:


A great capture of a surfer by TravOC

Great depth of field in this image by monkeyatlarge

A dramatic image of waves breaking on rocks captured by Wonderlane

A Starfish captured in a tidal pool by LisaW123

A simple but effective shot of grasses near the shore, image by Allie Caulfield

A great shot by Craig Camp

Featured image: Seal pups on an Essex coast by Anthony Webber