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28 Jun 2023
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Travel Tips

Whether you're looking to snap that perfect photo for Instagram or simply capture an important family memory, the Outer Banks is not only an ideal vacation destination, but it's also a photographer's paradise. With clean, pristine beaches, sunsets that are sure to take your breath away, history landmarks and lighthouses, and wildlife like you'll find in few places around the world, the Outer Banks offers endless opportunities to capture that perfect photograph that you'll cherish for a lifetime. Cell phone cameras have come a long way in the past decade, so don't worry about investing in experience gear. Whether you're a professional photograph looking to hone in on your craft or a dedicated beginner, these photography tips will help you make the most of your time on the Outer Banks.

Embrace the Golden Hour

The magical "golden hour" really is the key to capturing that award-winning photograph on the Outer Banks. The golden hour is the time just after sunrise or right before sunset. During this time, sunlight causes the sky to be redder and softer, casting a captivating glow over even the most everyday image. Filmmakers and photographers alike capitalize on this timing in order to create a memorable scene. Be sure to get to the beach early in the morning for an ideal shot or hang out around sunset in one of our suggested picturesque spots where you'll be able to capture the vibrant oranges and pinks of the sky behind the setting sun.

Take Advantage of "Leading Lines"

Utilizing "leading lines" is a technique where photographers can essentialy guide the viewers' eye through a photo based on natural or manmade lines. And in the case of the Outer Banks, the natural coastline boasts long stretches of sand, definitive horizions, dunes, and piers that can easily add a distinct visual division to your photographs. This will not only help increase the depth of your photos but it will also draw viewers to your pictures, capturing their gaze as they follow the natural geography with their eyes. Try to find places that create these distinctive lines such as a shoreline curving beneath the sky, a row of beach chairs, umbrellas, or surfboards, or a pier that juts out into the ocean, dividing the space.

Explore Different Subjects & Composition

Let your imagination run wild when it comes to composition. There are endless opportunities to create visually stunning photographs all over the Outer Banks. Whether you're staying in the northern Outer Banks and want to take advantage of the Currituck Beach Lighthouse or the Corolla Wild Horses or if the southern banks with the wide stretches of untouched sand and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse are more attuned to your interests, you're sure to find something that interests you and gives you the chance to take the ultimate photo that will leave your social media followers impressed. Use the rule of thirds to keep the subject off-center (this one works great with lighthouses) or try your hand at different angles. You can also try including frames like beachgrass or shells. Let your creativity run wild and don't worry about what other people will think, It's important to capture the photo that means the most to you.

Capture the Wildlife

One of the recurring themes that you'll find in photos of the Outer Banks is the wildlife, and that's for good reason. The Outer Banks is home to an abundance of wildlife including the wild horses but also birds like heron and pelicans, deer, wolves, and ocean creatures like dolphins, whales, and turtles. Capturing these creatures in their natural habitat is sure to create a striking photo. Do some research to find the best locations and time to spot the specific wildlife you're hoping to capture and don't forget to be patient and respectful. This was their home first, so don't change or damage anything while filming. Choose zoom lenses to help you get that spectacular close-up shot without disturbing the animals themselves. Your photo will mean so much more if it's part of conservation efforts and the ongoing commitment to allow the beach wildlife to thrive.

Look for Iconic Landmarks

Just like there's something fantastic about capturing wildlife, there's also something really magical about taking advantage of the numerous historical buildings and landmarks that dot the Outer Banks landscape. These areas are often already primed for the perfect shot and make fantastic subjects for any photography project. Consider capturing the iconic Cape Hatteras Lighthouse or a sunset at Jockey's Ridge State Park. Don't forget about the Wright Brothers Memorial or the famous Queen Elizabeth II at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Feel free to experiment with different camera angles or plan your visits at certain times of the day, to see how the light plays with the subject. Be sure to learn as much as you can about the history of these landmarks, as well, and share the story of the history on the Outer Banks with your viewers. That's one of the things that makes art so powerful! Tell a story that people will remember. 

Mix It Up

Don't get stuck photographing one thing or one specific type of thing. Try different filters or lenses to see what you like. Give action photography a chance, using faster shutter speeds to get that one-in-a-lifetime shot of a kiteboarder or windsurfer. But also pay attention to the little things. Good lighting and some editing can turn something as small as a seashell or sea foam on the shore into a photographic masterpiece. This gives you the chance to tell your story through images in a way that truly embraces everything that the Outer Banks stands for. Let yourself breathe and explore.

Book Your Next Outer Banks Vacation Today & Let Your Creativity Soar!

The Outer Banks, known around the world for its unique beauty, offers a wide range of subjects for all types of art from film to photography to fine arts and painting. There's even pottery infused with the lost hair of Corolla Wild Horses (a fun gift for the family, if you're in the market). Book your next vacation and let your creativity be unleashed! Capture the brilliance of the natural world or get that perfect picture for your family's next Christmas card. Either way, this spectacular coastal destination is sure to imprint lifelong memories on your heart and epic photos on your Instagram.

Give our wonderful Guest Services Team a call today at (866) 884-0267 or take a look at our available rentals to get started planning your next historic adventure to the Outer Banks. And don't forget about our layaway plan, which makes booking your dream vacation easier than ever. So don't wait. We're booking Outer Banks vacation rentals year round and we're excited to help you create memories to last a lifetime. We're here to help make your OBX vacation fun, exciting, and hassle-free. Give us a call today! Be sure to provide accurate information and make any necessary payments. 

Explore our website and give us a call to help kick-start your unforgettable Outer Banks vacation today.  Be sure to follow us on FacebookInstagramYouTubePinterest, and TikTok to stay up to date on all of our specials, new & featured homes, and tips & tricks for making the most of your next Outer Banks vacation.

We’ll see you at the beach.


About the Author:  Lauren is an Outer Banks local, mom, trained historian, and travel enthusiast. When she isn’t writing for the Seaside Vacations Travel Blog, Lauren can usually be found with her nose in a book or cuddling with her cats. 



LISTEN To the Outer Banks podcast Episode #18 - Outer Banks Photography With Local Photographer Wes Snyder