Our studio takes thousands of family beach portrait shots a summer. The biggest obstacle we run into is clutter. Everything from trash on the beach to people walking in the background when the beaches are busy. Even a small piece of trash or a cigarette butt can destroy an image. Clutter can turn a beautiful professional portrait into what can look like a snapshot. When setting up a portrait shot, consider simplifying the background to avoid photo clutter. Take the time to move things that can be a distraction. If you take a photo of someone in front of a busy background, when someone else looks at the picture their eyes will be pulled to the distractions.
Your photos should focus the viewer on the person, and only afterwards their surroundings. Instead of getting an entire beach scene in the photo, just get enough so the viewer knows the person is in front of ocean. Try and crop out any hotels or people walking by. You cannot get entire beach scene in a photo and still record the details of a person’s face, so unless you are just going for the effect of comparing the person’s size with the largeness of their surroundings, focus on one background detail and let the person’s image fill most of the viewfinder. These small tips will save you hours in the graphic process if you are aware of your surroundings.