When you think of California, beautiful women in bikinis, long hot summers, and waves crashing upon some gorgeous, sun-soaked beach may come to mind. I wanted to capture an iconic California-themed photoshoot that would showcase these iconic Cali motifs. Here's how I planned and executed a stunning swimsuit fashion shoot that had all that & more with two of the most beautiful models I know.
After thoroughly burning through all my quarantine projects, I began daydreaming about what creative photoshoots I would do after lockdown lifted. At the top of the list was a swimsuit fashion photoshoot. Spending some time on the beach sounded like the perfect way to remedy the cabin fever that COVID-19 forced upon us all.
El Matador Beach
The most challenging part of this shoot was nailing down a location. SoCal has many choices when it comes to a beach photoshoot. One choice was Huntington Beach with its iconic pier. It's a great location for a shoot, but a place that I've used for a photoshoot before, so I decided against it.
The next competitor was Santa Monica beach, which is a great location! I almost went with this one, but ultimately decided it would be a little too crowded. I ended up choosing the gorgeous and unique El Matador Beach in Malibu. With its unique rock formations, it would be a great place to pose models and add some needed variety to an otherwise plain beach scene.
With a location in mind, I sourced my models, Alyssa and Audrey. I asked them both to bring a few swimsuits each to model so we had plenty of variety. In preparation for the outfit changes, I packed a my very helpful portable changing tent which later turned out to be invaluable for our shoot.
El Matador Beach was quite crowded when we arrived towards the late afternoon. We wandered along the shoreline until the crowd began to thin out. Along the way we saw several photographers doing their own portrait sessions. Side note: when I arrive to a new location and see other photographers there, it generally tells me that I picked a good spot! Once we were clear of people and photographers, we set down our bags and got to work.
Swimsuit Photoshoot Tips
You have to be careful when shooting at the beach, especially when you're a flash photographer like myself. All this expensive electronic equipment will be toast the minute it touches seawater. To protect my equipment (and my wallet), I always bring a dedicated lighting assistant to these kinds of shoots. With my assistant holding onto those lightstands for dear life, we were able to get right up in the water with our models and get some great shots.
As the sun slowly slipped over the horizon, we made the most of the Blue Hour lighting before concluding our shoot. I used a backup Speedlight without a modifier as an improvised hair/kicker light. We used the opportunity to pose our two models together as our finale shots before it became too dark to work.
By the time we finished our shoot, it was dark. We were wet and exhausted, but thoroughly pleased with the images we captured. It was one of the few photoshoots where everything just seemed to go right, which was exceptional. Come take a look at the final result of the Swimsuit Fashion Photoshoot:
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Austen Hunter Photography is a Pensacola, Florida photographer who specializes in senior picture photography, beach photography, fashion photography, graduation photography, military portrait photography and headshot photography in a bold, graphic style, from Destin and 30A Florida, to Pensacola to Orange Beach and Gulf Shores Alabama. Austen Hunter has been published internationally and is known for his bold, graphic, and clean photographic style. He uses a variety of both natural light and off-camera flash to capture images. People usually book Austen for outdoor portrait sessions or sessions conducted at his home studio.