Tips for Better Summer Photography

Warm, sunny days and summer vacations encourage you to get out more with your camera. How can you take full advantage of the season to create great images?


“Canoes on Lake Moraine” captured by edwademd (Click image to see more from edwademd.)

1. Tell the story of summer

Photography is a form of communication. You want your images to tell the story of summer and how it makes you feel. Think about what summer means to you, and strive to capture that in your images.

Does summer mean picnics, building sand castles at the beach, car rides with the top down, or playing Frisbee with the dog? Do you think of blue skies, blazing heat, and cornfields? Is summer a time to spend at the cottage with your family, fishing, swimming in the lake, and roasting marshmallows on the camp fire? Does it mean eating ice cream, soaking up the air-conditioning at the mall, and wearing flip flops?

These activities can all be turned into iconic images that capture the mood of summer. The most important thing is for you to make your images personal and to photograph the subjects that represent summer for you.

2. Use color effectively

I live in Canada, where winter paints everything in black and white and creates a colorless landscape. Each year, I look forward to summer, because it brings with it rich and saturated colors. Including strong, bright colors in your pictures already gives an indication to the viewer that it’s summertime. In addition, the choice of which specific colors you include can help you tell your summer stories more effectively; color choice can determine the mood of the image. Warm colors bring to mind the warm temperatures we enjoy in summer. Using warm tones in your images or a splash of vibrant red, orange, or yellow, lends an impression of heat to your photograph. In contrast, you can also make use of cool colors to create a feeling of refreshment. For instance, the blue of a swimming pool can help your viewer imagine the restorative power of a dip in chilly water.


“Summer Funnin” captured by John Davies (Click image to see more from John Davies.)

The trick is to use color deliberately so that it enhances your message. An orange beach towel can make the sand look hotter than a purple one. A blue patio umbrella can make the shade look cooler than a red one.

3. Avoid harsh light

The bright and sunny days of summer are often the worst time to take pictures. If you are photographing people in the middle of the day, the bright light can create dark shadows on their faces or cause them to squint if they are looking into the sun. To avoid this, try to move people into the shade to photograph them. Alternatively, if the shot is being posed, you can use a diffuser to soften the light. A diffuser is simply a piece of translucent material which scatters light rays. Diffusers reduce glare and harsh shadows. They eliminate unattractive contrast and even out the tonality in an image.

Rather than buying a diffuser, you can have a friend assist you by holding up a bed sheet or frosted white shower curtain. Remember to place the sheet or diffuser between the sun and your subject. Another way to avoid the harsh light of the summer is to shoot during the “golden hour.” Golden hour is the half hour before and half hour after sunrise or sunset. At this time of day, the sun’s rays fall at more of an angle, creating longer and softer shadows and warmer, gentler light. Sometimes it’s best to spend the afternoon in the pool and then pull out your camera in the evening!


“Summertime Sunshine” captured by Stewart Butterfield (Click image to see more from Stewart Butterfield.)

With these tips in hand, get out there and start photographing! Capture warm and colorful images of the subjects that say “summer” to you.

About the Author:
Julie Waterhouse is the author and photographer behind the Ultimate Photo Tips website. Stop by for more photo tips and inspiration. Julie is passionate about photography, and loves to teach workshops, coach one-on-one, and share her passion in any way she can. Her photo tips website was born out of a desire to reach even more budding photographers. Julie is a digital fine art photographer who resides in Markham, Canada, close to the local farmland and woods she loves to photograph.

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