Life’s a Beach: Photographers who take their craft to the sand

August 11th, 2014
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What could make a creative job such as photography even more appealing? How about spending your day on the beach? These three professional photographers— who all happen to live in sunny California—found their bliss, and careers, by the ocean. Here’s a peek inside each: one who focuses on waves, one on family portraits and the other on world traveling. Lay back, grab a tropical drink, and enjoy.

online photo gallery wave chaser promo

What got you interested in beach photography?

I was on a surf trip in Bali in 2007. The waves, scenery, and culture were unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I wanted to capture its beauty and share it with family and friends.

Do you surf?

Yes, since before I can remember. I have been in the water either surfing, body boarding, or taking photos ever since.

Describe a typical workday.

A typical day involves prepping all of my gear the night before. I am up before sunrise and in the water waiting for the sun to come up. After a few hours in the water, I am on my way home to download and edit images. If the conditions stay good, it’s great to get another session midday. And then it’s back to the beach in the afternoon to capture the sunset.

online photo gallery imageWhat’s your favorite location of all the ones you’ve shot?

The island of Bali in Indonesia is at the top of my list. The water is crystal blue and about 85 degrees. The waves are world class, and the backdrop of limestone cliffs with lush vegetation and cliff-hanging homes is breathtaking.

What is your biggest challenge when shooting in the waves?

The hardest part is dealing with the waves themselves. Swimming around in 10 feet plus surf is no easy task. You then have to position yourself in a very small zone… too far out and you miss the shot, and too far in and the wave breaks on your head and you get pounded. It’s a constant battle to stay in position while at the same time having to compose a good image and choose the proper settings.

See more of John’s work at

the family vacationer online photo galleryWho are your clients?

Half of my clients are local, and the other half are families vacationing in San Diego.

Have you always lived in San Diego?

Navy brat in the house! My dad was a fighter pilot and commanded an aircraft carrier, so I grew up all over the world. I went to junior high in Japan. We landed in San Diego for my senior year of high school, and I went to school in Malibu. After a few years in San Jose after college, my husband and I realized that we did not belong in Silicon Valley. We moved back to San Diego where he continued his IT career.

You were a teacher before. How did you switch to becoming a photographer?

I was a math professor at a junior college, but once our kids arrived, teaching didn’t fit with our family values. We had decided even before we got married that I would be home with our children, so I stopped teaching. When my husband got laid off during the dot-com crash, he found a new job, but it came with a severe pay cut. We either had to sell the house and move, or I had to start making a good income. That’s how Barefoot Memories was born. I had been taking photos just for fun, friends, and family. Everyone kept saying, “We would totally pay for this!” And I always brushed it off—until the layoff. Then, I decided to make this business work. It was sink or swim.

family posing for online photo galleryWhat’s your favorite part about shooting at the beach?

There’s a beach that I’ve probably been to over 1,000 times, but I don’t get bored or sick of it because it is a different experience every single time I am there.

You primarily shoot families. What’s your favorite part?

I love being done in a short amount of time, unlike a wedding that takes a huge chunk of the day or an entire weekend. Interacting with kids and parents in a casual setting, we can be loose, fun, goofy, and just dork around on the beach.

What’s more of a challenge: shooting antsy kids or difficult adults?

Adults for sure. I’ve come home bleeding from two shoots because of misbehaving children. But I’ll still take an antsy toddler over a cranky dad any day.

What’s the biggest piece of advice you would give a photographer wanting to shoot on the beach?

Study the beach—the tides, the sand, the light—and do not get pigeonholed into thinking that the only good light at the beach is during golden hour, 90 minutes before sunset.

See more of Carey’s work at 

the globe trotter online photo galleryWhat got you into interested in beach photography?

Inspired by a lifetime of traveling, I was raised on salt water and snow. I grew up across the U.S. in such places as the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia, Ohio and North Carolina, and along with the coastal beaches of Georgia, Texas, Florida and California, developing an itch for exploration. Continuing the journey, my recent travels include Java, Bali, Nicaragua, and Barbados.

Do you live by the water?

Yes, my family and I live about five to six blocks from the beach, and my studio/gallery is located just a few blocks from the Oceanside Pier.

What’s your favorite part of shooting by the ocean?

It sure beats staring at a computer monitor all day.

online photo gallery image of surfer duck divingWhat’s the most challenging part about shooting by (or in) the ocean?

Dealing with the environment: heat, sunburn, drowning, urchins, sharp coral reefs, sand and salt are no friend of camera equipment and lenses.

What’s your favorite part about traveling for shoots?

The bumps in the road added to the adventure and experience. From flat tires, to missed flights, to running into friends at faraway places.

*Promotion valid until March 31, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. PST. Promotional discount off the subscription price of a new Portfolio, PortfolioPlus, ProSuite annual plan will be automatically applied at checkout with code ZENFOLIO50. Discount applies to the first year only. Cannot be combined with any other promotion.

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