Summer is a busy and bright season. It can be an excellent time for photography since there’s so much happening, and nature looks great. However, the summer season can also be a challenging time – bright light isn’t always flattering, there’s often haze in the sky and the sun’s glare can get in the way. How can you make your summer photos look stunning? Here are some top tips to make your summer photos pop!
1. Know your conditions
Download a weather app and keep an eye on the sky. Mother Nature can either be your friend or enemy, depending on the type of photos you want to take, planning will help you find the best time for your photos. As much as we love the summer sun, even a dreary and rainy day can make a beautiful photo. Work with your environment!
2. Be prepared
Once you know the weather conditions, you can plan on what you’ll need for the day. A lens hood will come in handy to help reduce glare in your photos. A mini-tripod will be much easier to carry in the summer heat so consider a lighter alternative your main bulky one. Also, bringing along some sunblock and water is just generally good advice if you’re going to be outside for a while.
3. Bring the shade
Shading can add extra dimensions to a photo. Sometimes you’ll find natural shade in trees and buildings, but you can always make your own if there’s none around. Try using an umbrella to make shade where you need it. A good tip is to carry a piece of cardboard with you that you can use to block the sun when photographing people for example. Rather than getting a harsh shadow on someone’s face by putting their face in the shade, you will get a much nicer evenly lit image.
4. The path less travelled
Explore! You may find something unexpected. Whether it’s going on a natural trail or searching for quiet spots in the city, photography can be a great adventure. Be careful not to trespass or to enter dangerous areas. Other than that, the world is your oyster.
5. Tourist destination
Although going off the beaten track can be exciting, don’t be afraid of tourist spots. Get lost in the crowd. Summer is a busy and exciting season. Sometimes capturing that busy street may just help you capture the dynamic nature of summer.
6. Go to events
Plenty of holidays and events happen in summer that won’t appear in other seasons. Check to see what events are happening near you. It could be a food festival or pop-up theatre. Either way, you may just come across a great moment.
Infrared photos can be beautiful and fantastical when done right. If you want to see nature from a new perspective, try taking an infrared image. Summer is an excellent time for infrared, especially when the sun is glaring, because of the high contrast. Take advantage of the light and snap up those infrared photos. Even the city can look surreal!
8. Get a polarizing filter
A polarizing filter will help you get the best photos in the summer sun. If you’re struggling with reflections on water, glass or even the pavement in your photos, a filter is just what you need. You can also try taking the photo from a different angle or waiting until later in the day. But, that might mean a photo slipping away. A filter is a convenient and easy way to make sure you get rid of those unwanted reflections and cut through some of the haze in your image.
9. Enjoy the nightlife
There’s no better time to be a night owl than the summer. Not only are summer nights cooler, but they also look great on camera. Enjoy the cloudless nights where you can see the stars or capture the city just as the nightlights are coming on. Keep in mind though that summer usually means sunsets being later in the evening so be prepared to have to stay out later.
10. Set those alarms
Later sunset will also mean earlier sunrises. Make the effort to get out to photograph in the early hours as this will usually give you the best light not to mention fewer crowds. Make sure you set the alarm on your phone so you’re awake to get that photo. While everyone else is in bed, you can be out taking all the images you want. That being said, sleep is essential! Don’t skip too much rest. You want to be awake and active, so you’re at your creative best.
11. Take your time
Taking a break may even give you that creative idea you didn’t know you needed, according to Harvard researchers. This could be on location by just taking some time to enjoy the view before starting to take photos. Or you could just take a break from photography for a few days to recharge your energy levels. After all how many times have you had your best idea in the shower? If you’re getting frustrated or just feel like your brain is frazzled, take a step back. Grab a coffee or check your emails. You can’t force creativity.
12. Photograph the outdoors
What does summer mean to you? Maybe, like me, you think of being outdoor and in parks where some flowers will be in full bloom. Take advantage of flower gardens near you or go on nature walks to find them in the wild. You can zoom in to make the flowers the main focus of your photo or use them as a colourful background. You can also photograph people being outdoors. Whether it’s kids playing, someone cycling or even a couple enjoying a romantic picnic, it will all make great subjects for summer photos.
13. Experiment with editing
If you feel your photo is missing something or could be better, don’t be afraid to experiment. Try out different filters. Changing a bright summer photo to black and white can dramatically change the feeling of the image.
14. Use silhouettes
Silhouettes look simple but stunning. Summer is an excellent time for silhouettes as the sun is usually bright. You can plan and bring props to create your silhouette and ask your friends to pose or find something in your environment to use. Silhouettes may even happen spontaneously. If you come across a decent silhouette set up, change your settings from autofocus to manual to make sure your camera gets the best shot possible. Your camera may struggle with autofocus when capturing a silhouette! Expose your image for the background (i.e. the bright source of light) otherwise, your highlights will be clipped.
15. Plan for the future
Sometimes you will come across a location or subject and find that summer won’t be the best time to photograph it. It might be that the light doesn’t fall on it at that time of the year. Or it could be that it will just look better in the fall with colourful autumn colours. Keep a notepad and make notes on potential ideas and locations for future shoots in other seasons.
Summer can be a great time for photography. There will be people out and about enjoying the outdoors, there will be laughter, music and plenty of photo opportunities along the way. Whilst it can be more tiring, longer days mean more time to be able to photograph outside. Use the tips above and you will be on your way to capturing great summer photos.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.