Getting the Most Out of Your Summer Photos

There is so much going on in the summer and it is the perfect time to grab photographic memories of your kids. The challenge during the summer is that the sun can be bright, really bright.  Our cameras cannot record the same information that our eyes see but by making a few adjustments you can end up with some incredible images to look back on.

1. Protect your gear

The beach, pool and spray park have amazing photography opportunities but protect your gear.  If I take my camera to the beach, I usually wrap it up in a bag to keep the sand off it and clean it when I get home.   If you are trying to get into underwater photography there are special housings (i.e., special waterproof cases) you can buy for your phone or camera.  Also, popular right now is a go pro underwater camera.

2. Capture the sky and vibrant colors

kids fishing during sunset in New Hampshire

I find the skies in the summer to be amazing – vibrant, colorful, and dramatic. Use this to your advantage.  Back up and capture the scenery that your child is playing in. If it is in the middle of the day the sky will be vibrant blue.  In the evening, you’ll get colorful sunsets. One of my favorite times to photograph the sky is before or after a storm with the dramatic clouds.

3. Fight the urge to “say cheese”

picking strawberries in Massachusetts farm

We all do it – “Hey, look at me. Over here. Smile. No, over here. Smile.” It can frustrating for you and for them. What do you want your summer memories to be, time spent yelling about smiling or time spent enjoying your days? During the summer just let kids be kids and stop asking them to take a break from what they are doing and smile for you.  When the light is harsh it is better to not have your kids look at you anyway. Let them be engrossed in their task and snap away. There will be a better time and better light for the classic smile photo plus you’ll end up with some photos of genuine joy and engagement.

 

4. Know your light

During the summer, the sun is bright. The harsh light can make it challenging for beginners to take photographs because when the sun is high in the sky it can be hard to expose properly.  Our cameras don’t retain the same information that our eyes do. Before snapping a photo stop and take a moment to see how the light is falling on your kids or whatever it is you are photographing.

 

You need to be careful about how you position your children in this type of sunlight.   In the photos below, you’ll notice how there are strong shadows and bright highlights. In the photo above, my son is playing in the water.  You can see where the light is brightest but it doesn’t matter in the photograph because half of his body is turned.     By just letting him play, so I was able to capture the beautiful, vibrant colors along with his genuine smile.

 

5. What’s summer without water

girl in spray park in Cambridge

If you don’t have underwater housing it’s okay. I don’t. Set rules with your kids so they don’t throw the water balloon at you or aim the hose at the camera.  I usually will grab a few shots of the kids sliding on the slip-n-slide, or the first water balloon toss and then I’ll put the camera away and join in the fun.  While we are at the lake, I’ll venture out a few feet to give the illusion of being in the water.

6. Think about your composition

kids swimming in New Hampshire

If you have a few moments, think about how you can creatively compose your photographs.  Last summer, my son had a goal of swimming out to the platform in the lake. The only lens I had on me was a 35mm so I wasn’t able to take a close-up image of him on it; however, I used the bushes to frame the accomplishment.

Lately, I’ve been just using my cell phone.  Personally, I find I get a little lazy with my cell phone and need to remind myself to think about how I’m holding my phone and about my composition.  This summer, we did a hike to Mt. Mansfield and I wanted to capture the view. In the photo below, I used the rule of thirds – one third of the image includes the mountain and two-thirds of the image includes the sky.

7. Create a bucket list

silhouette at playground in Boston

Before even breaking out the camera create a list of things you enjoy about summer and experiences you want to share with your kids.  Whether it is running through the sprinkler, a summer picnic, the way your child licks an ice cream cone or jumps into the pool, this bucket list will help you document what you are feeling. It will also allow you to put the camera down and enjoy the time together.

Your list can include anything but here are some ideas to get you started. Think of it as a summer long scavenger hunt.

  1. Long shadows
  2. Jumping
  3. Different modes of transportation (i.e., the T,  boat, bus, etc.)
  4. Bubbles
  5. Faceless portrait
  6. Boredom
  7. Water
  8. Bugs
  9. New playground spot
  10. Reflection
  11. Dappled light
  12. Wind

 

boy running through the water in MaineFamily canoeing in New Hampshirekids fishing during sunset in New Hampshire

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