About Us

Tiki Nelson


Portraits by the Sea is a photography studio specializing in beach portraits. Fashion and model photographer Tiki Nelson has been photographing locals and visitors to Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast since 1991. His career started in the 6th grade when he and a classmate decided they wanted to have a yearbook like the high school students. Winning financial and logistical support for their entrepreneurial enthusiasm, the school’s principal and city newspaper editor helped them see this project though. Tiki has been shooting ever since! He has worked directly in photography most of his life or in related fields such as broadcast television and satellite surveillance. All the while he would moonlight, taking portraits, shooting weddings and other events. He has been self-employed since 1985. His favorite genre of photography is fashion and although there isn’t a lot of call for it in this area, he has been able to implement a fashion flair to some of his portraits. His style has earned him a reputation that attracts graduating seniors from around the country. Tiki’s photography has been seen on billboards, newspapers and the covers of such magazines as the “Emerald Coast Magazine” and “RDH”. He was also an official photographer at President Bush’s Inaugural ball in 1989. His commercial client list includes Nordstroms, Barbizon, Washington Claims Association, Boeing Corporation, Private Investigators of Northern Virginia, Georgia Gulf Corporation, Utah Division of Aging and many others.

Tiki has a master’s degree from the University of West Florida in communication arts; a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Chapman University, California; and an associate’s degree in drama from Brigham Young University, Idaho. Tiki graduated from the U.S. Navy’s A, B, and C schools of photography and served as an official U.S. Naval photographer. He also studied photography at Rochester Institute of Technology.

He is one of the very few photographers that uses a professional 21 megapixel studio camera on the beach to achieve spectacular clarity and resolution in his family portraits. While there are many 10 megapixel cameras on the market (including consumer grade), not all megapixels are created equal! He only shoots in RAW format which can roughly be equated to a “negative” on film and requires “light room” processing by skilled professionals. Professional digital has a depth of 16 bits which is twice that of consumer class cameras. So, in a nut shell, yes, he can create superior photographs of higher quality and achieve larger sized prints than you can with your consumer camera, not to mention, most of the competition! What does all this mean to you? It means that you will get unequaled quality, sharpness and resolution in your portraits, even in the super large wall portraits!

Aside from family beach photography, Tiki also provides Model and Fashion sessions, specializing in teens and pre-teens. Other services include Food, Advertising, Publicity, Product, Passport, High School Senior, Digital, Glamour and Boudoir photography. The studio is located in Fort Walton Beach, situated on the Gulf Coast of Florida’s panhandle; better known as the Emerald Coast because of its emerald blue-green waters.

The next time you visit Destin, Seaside, Seagrove, Rosemary Beach, Sandestin, Santa Rosa Beach, Grayton Beach, Navarre or Fort Walton Beach, Florida; don’t settle for the typical photos or snapshots. Make it a truly memorable occasion with a cherished family beach portrait from Portraits by the Sea.