Updated: Sep 26
What images come to mind when you envision summer? Perhaps you think of the green grasses, starry skies, a cold glass of lemonade, and the smiling faces of loved ones. As we look back on the year, our favorite shots were generally taken during bright, playful summer moments.
With just a few weeks left of the bustling summer season, here are our summer photography tips for capturing your best images!
#1 Make the Most of “Golden Hour”
During summer, the best time for optimal lighting (soft, clear illumination) is one hour after sunrise or one hour before sunset. These times of day bring warm, soft light and are called “golden hours.” Photos during golden hours often look a bit magical, happy, and have dimension. The warm tones make the skin appear even and tanned, and add a “glowy” effect to the illuminated faces.
If you want to take amazing summer vacation photos, set the alarm in the morning, or find a less crowded area as evening sets in. You can also look for an overcast day to filter out harsh light and perfectly illuminate faces and landscapes with a soft, natural light.
#2 Learn to Work with Harsh Sunlight
You can still gather some fantastic summer shots during the mid-day summer fun! Some photographers love the contrast and sharp shadows harsh light can create. If so, go ahead and shoot at various angles to see what results you like best.
If you prefer not to have dark shadows in the frame, one summer photography tip is to find, a shady spot for people to gather. A lightly shaded spot can help eliminate funky shadows and squinty eyes.
If you are shooting during the bright afternoon, keep your composition simple: have one specific subject positioned off-center and zoomed out, and shoot with a neutral, consistent background. This will eliminate shadowed faces. You may want to lower your exposure levels as well, to avoid washed-out photos.
#3 Perfect your Portraits
Whether you have a smartphone or camera with a portrait mode option or not, you can capture some awesome summer portrait shots with the right positioning.
Getting a shot from above your subject can lead to an amazing portrait image. Ask your subject to sit down, or do a bit of climbing so you can position the camera slightly above them. Have them tilt their chin slightly upward, toward you (and the in the direction of the light source) allowing the sunlight to catch the reflection in their eyes. This will create a “catchlight” or glimmer in the eyes that brings the picture alive.
Climbing not your thing? You can also take a shot level with your subject and get great portraits. One of our favorite summer photo tips is to make sure the sun is directly behind you and your subject is in front of you. Tap your screen on your subject to be sure your photo focuses on their face. Play with the light until you’ve got it shining on them just right for the colors of the face to be illuminated.
If daylight is running out and you are still capturing those perfect summer photos, try taking a few dramatic silhouette shots. A dark subject outline, with a bright, high contrast background can lead to a romantic, engaging, and mysterious image. To capture a great silhouette, you need a backlit subject. Sun –> Subject –> Photographer.
This means the sun is behind your subject and you are shooting from in front of your subject. Put the brightest source of light directly behind your subject to create high contrast and more interest. Capture the colors in the sky or the silhouettes of trees off to the side to frame the picture perfectly.
#5 Action Shots
Summer is a fun time full of life, movement, and action: jumping into the pool, kids running through a park, or friends waterskiing on your lake trip. Capture all these lively summer photos with action shots. The easiest way to capture movement and take quality action shots is by using your BURST mode (available on both iOS and Android devices.)
Open your camera app, compose your shot, and then press and hold down the shutter button. As you hold the button, your camera will take a rapid series of multiple shots. Your subject may be moving wildly, but your burst mode will capture the movement and give you a selection of images.
Feeling inspired to take more summer pictures? The great thing about digital cameras is you can take as many images as you want, play around with your settings, and save the best summer shots in a beautiful custom photo book. By applying these summer photography tips, you will capture your best photos yet.
We can’t wait to see what fantastic images you capture this summer!