Reading Tides & Why It’s Important for Your Photoshoot

Reading tides is a big deal when planning a photoshoot at the beach, but many couples forget to factor them in. The height and timing of the tides can make or break your whole experience – they can even be dangerous if you’re not careful. I always recommend working with local vendors who know their way around the area. They can help you navigate all the tidal ins and outs and ensure your shoot goes off without a hitch. Trust me, you don’t want to show up at the beach only to find out the tide is too high or too low for what you had in mind. That’s a recipe for disappointment. But with a local expert on your team, you can plan around the tides and make the most of your time at the coast.

Reading Tide Tables

Reading tides can seem a bit daunting at first, but they’re actually quite straightforward once you get the hang of them. Typically, you’ll see two high tides and two low tides per day, roughly six hours apart. The measurements represent the tide height above or below the “chart datum” – an average of low tide levels. High tides are indicated by the larger, positive numbers, while low tides are the smaller, sometimes negative numbers. For the best beach access and exploration, you’ll want to time your photoshoot around low tide. It’s also important to note that the tide heights can vary quite a bit, so a “low” tide one day may be very different the next. A local photographer will likely know the variation of the tides in that specific area.

You can check out this helpful REI article on how to read a tide table. If you’ll be at the Oregon Coast specifically, click here for the Oregon Coast tide charts!

The Impacts of Tides

Tides can change the whole vibe and accessibility of a coastal location. When the tide is low, you can get to all kinds of cool spots that are totally underwater at high tide – like tide pools, sandbars, and rocky areas. That opens up a ton of creative photo opportunities that you’d miss out on otherwise. But on the flip side, high tides can limit your access to the beach and even put you in some sketchy situations if you’re not careful. In places like Oregon, we get these “king tides” in the winter that can be super dangerous, with massive waves and water levels that can sneak up on you before you know it. So you have to pay attention to the tides and plan accordingly. Otherwise, you might show up, ready to explore the beach, only to find that most of it is underwater or too risky to access.

Are you planning your Oregon Coast elopement? Check out my ultimate list of Oregon Coast elopement locations!

Reading Tides & Your Timeline

When planning a coastal photoshoot, always check those tide tables and work closely with your photographer and other vendors to find the perfect time of day. Low tide is usually the best for getting out on the beach and exploring all the cool, exposed stuff, like tide pools and sandbars. But high tide can also create some beautiful, moody backdrops. Speaking of moody, you’ll love this Oregon elopement near Depoe Bay!

The tides aren’t just about the water levels, though. They can also impact things like how many people are around, what kind of wildlife you might see, and even the lighting and weather conditions. So you have to pay attention to all those little details to be sure your photoshoot is a smooth experience you’ll never forget. With a little planning and the help of some locals, you can time everything just right and capture some truly epic shots.

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