How to Photograph Beautiful Beach Weddings

Santa Cruz Beautiful Beach Weddings

For a good reason, Santa Cruz beach weddings have become increasingly popular. The natural beauty of the ocean, the sand, and the sun create a stunning backdrop. If you’re planning a Santa Cruz beach wedding, you’ll want to capture every moment. You want stunning photographs you can cherish for years. In this blog post, I’ll share some tips on photographing a beach wedding as a Santa Cruz beach wedding photographer.

Maui Beach Wedding Photographer

I photographed many weddings in Maui, which was great because it’s warm. It’s a destination wedding location and generally low-stress for the couple. These days, I, Kyer Wiltshire, photograph Santa Cruz beach weddings. I also work as a destination wedding photographer.

If you don’t know Santa Cruz, let me tell you, it’s one of the most beautiful places in California to get married. We have a stunning coastline, soft sand, and waves crashing against the shore. It makes for an idyllic setting for any beach wedding.

Photographing Santa Cruz beach weddings has presented me with unique challenges. However, with careful planning and attention to detail, you can create stunning images that capture the day’s magic.

santa cruz beach wedding photographer

In Santa Cruz, Maui, or any beach area, it’s essential to know your location.

As with any photography session, location is critical. Places like Santa Cruz and Maui have many beautiful beaches, each with unique features. Scout the location beforehand and note the time of day and the sun’s direction. Are there any potential obstacles that could get in the way of your shots? Doing this allows you to plan your shots and ensure you capture the best possible moments.

Santa Cruz beach wedding photorapher

Be prepared for the elements and crashing waves.

During a Santa Cruz beach wedding, you must be prepared for the elements. The beach can be a challenging environment to work in. There is wind, sand, and saltwater. All are potential hazards. While I enjoy pushing edges to get the shot, I have ruined a fine lens and a camera with salt water. The good news is that I didn’t lose any wedding photos. I sometimes use a waterproof camera bag and a lens hood, depending on the situation. Bring extra batteries and memory cards, and a cleaning kit. You’ll also want your camera settings adjusted for the conditions. I recommend using a fast shutter speed to capture movement.

Santa Cruz Beach Wedding photographer

With a Beautiful Santa Cruz Beach Wedding, I Always Focus on Composition and Framing

Regarding composition and framing, the beach provides a wealth of opportunities. The beach’s natural elements, such as the waves, dunes, and rocks, create exciting and dynamic compositions. Look for lines and shapes that lead the viewer’s eye. How about a curved coastline or a winding path through the sand? Use natural elements like archways, trees, or waves to frame your subjects and create a more dynamic composition.

Capture candid moments

One of the best things about beach weddings is the relaxed atmosphere they create. Please take advantage of this by capturing candid moments between the bride and groom and their guests. These natural shots can often be the most beautiful and heartfelt. They also help to tell the day’s story more authentically.

Capture the unique flavor of the moment. In the Maui wedding photo below, the Native Hawaiian officiant blows a pū (conch shell horn) as they share their first kiss as a married couple.

Maui beach wedding

With a Santa Cruz Beach Wedding, I always plan for lighting.

Proper lighting is critical in photography, and the beach can be a tricky environment to work in. Avoid harsh shadows and overexposure. Shooting early morning or late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky is best. If you have to shoot during the middle of the day, try to find some shaded areas where you can take your photos. This will help to soften the light and make your bride and groom look more natural.

Because they’re generally shorter, most beach weddings can take place around sunset. The first 20 minutes after sunset is also a good time for portraits. The light is flat, and this is good for skin tones. You also don’t have to worry about harsh shadows.

In photography, always shoot raw. You’re also generally better off underexposing a photo than over-exposing. In raw, you can bring up the dark details. If the sky is overexposed too much, it will not be possible to darken it without it looking “burnt.”

LGBT wedding Santa Cruz

Shoot in Manual Mode

When photographing a beach wedding, shooting in manual mode with auto ISO will give you greater control over your camera settings and allow you to create more creative and unique shots. Here are some key settings to consider:

  • Aperture: A wide aperture (f/1.8-f/2.8) will create a shallow depth of field, which is ideal for portraits and close-up shots. All prime lenses can shoot in the wide aperture range. More expensive and heavy zoom lenses can as well.
  • Shutter Speed: Use a fast shutter speed (1/500 or higher) to freeze motion, such as waves crashing or people walking along the beach. If there is much light and you are shooting with a wide aperture, you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid overexposure.
  • White Balance: Consider using a custom white balance setting to ensure accurate color. Remember to set it back to automatic when you’re done.
Maui Sunset Wedding

Photographing a beach wedding can be a beautiful and rewarding experience. By following these tips and being prepared for the elements, you can create stunning photographs that capture the essence of the bride and groom’s special day. Remember to be creative, use the environment to your advantage, and work closely with the wedding party.