Creating casual beach portraits in the fall or winter

Just because summer is gone doesn’t mean you can’t shoot gorgeous beach portraits. Don’t be afraid to go to the beach in cool weather. For a casual fall or winter beach photo shoot, get yourself a nice warm wool jumper and jeans with a bikini. There are many reasons why now is the perfect time.

Benefits of cold weather

Aside from the obvious fresh air and vitamin D (which may be minimal), the crowds are less and the sun less harsh. This time of year the light is usually soft and the even light is beautiful. Clouds, well, they can be your friends too. It’s like having a giant diffuser on top of your model. You can get dramatic moody skies that can add impact.


It was windy and rainy, but we were lucky enough to keep checking the weather forecast and picking the perfect day. No rain, no wind. Sea breezes often blow on the coast, which may be pleasant in summer, but cold and miserable in winter. So be sure to check the weather forecast for the beach you plan to visit.

what to take

I chose the Sony 85mm because I have room to move around. I love the soft bokeh of this lens, perfect for portraits. However, you can choose between the 50mm price or the 24-70mm zoom. Longer focal lengths give more blur and compression, depending on the distance between the model and the background.

I brought a Godox AD200 and a small softbox, which I ended up not using (although it’s good to be prepared in case the light is too dull). Please note that softboxes and parasols may float in the air on windy days. I used a silver reflector to reflect the light onto Emily’s face.

I dressed Emily in blue jeans and sneakers for a casual look and a nice wool jumper in neutral tones. Make-up and hair are super light and casual. The only props we used were some daisies growing nearby. And our beautiful backdrop, Brighton Beach, Melbourne.

Where are you going

My model Emily did a little scouting around. She often walks on these beaches because they are close to her home. I want water and sand, nice beach grass and not too far to walk, she said parking would be convenient too.

She took a picture with her phone a few days ago, so we picked a few spots and chose this one, but it’s a good idea to have a few backups in case of crowds or wind. Protected beaches are often the best. A circular polarizing filter might also help if you want to get more detail underwater.

Look for interesting backgrounds. Or at least look for something fun and not too confusing. Some shots showed the city of Melbourne and some others the iconic Brighton Beach bathing boxes. To be honest, I shoot mostly at f/2.8, and the background is so blurry that it’s hard to see any detail at all.


I used a Sony a7R III, an 85mm GM lens. Shot in Aperture Priority mode from f/2.8 to f/4.0, ISO Auto, minimum shutter speed 1/125s.

We kept it simple. I looked for a place that minimized distractions and still retained a beach ‘feel’. Sit on the sand, walk by the water, or sit near the grass. Simply beautiful.

Check out our video for a little behind-the-scenes look at where we shot and the gear we used.

Model: Emily Reinhardt

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