Simple and uncluttered backgrounds with depth, work best.
Natural beach portraits are among my favourites, but photographing totally candid can lead to failure. I find the best way is to take control and direct the kids, is usually more successful. Of course being ready for any magic moments is also valid.
I try to create the composition as I would a landscape/seascape photograph, then place your subjects in the zone you want them to walk through. Simple and uncluttered backgrounds with depth, work best.
This image is a good example of breaking some composition rules. Normally I would lower the horizon line to around the bottom third, but I didn’t want to raise the camera any higher, which would have lowered the horizon. The varying height of the boys was the challenge in this decision, but as the horizon line was so blurred and muted I believe it works fine. Normally you wouldn’t want a sharp horizon line running through the head or neck area.
Once the boys were in the zone I wanted, I asked them questions like, what sport they played or liked (find something that is common to them), this takes their mind off the photography. Then I asked them to talk about that while they are walking. Generally, this will create a more natural relaxed portrait.
There are many ways to go about this and each personality is different. What works for some, doesn’t necessarily work for others, but one thing I know, directing candids has a higher success rate than letting the kids loose and hoping.
Like I said previously, it’s a similar technique to a movie director making actors look real.
Until next time,