5 ways to take fantastic photos this summer

Summer is nearly upon us and with the last couple of weeks of term whizzing by if you have school age children they will soon have six weeks off to have lots of fun. The summer holidays are a time of getting outdoors, going on holiday and generally having adventures, so they are a perfect time to get your camera out and capture those memories. However summer can prove challenging when it comes to taking photos- think bright sunlight, harsh shadows, pesky sand and of course water!

But, it’s one of my favourite time of year to take photos, so I thought I would give my top five tips for photographing your kids this summer…

Watch the sun and seek out shade

It’s funny because we all want the sun to shine all summer long but in fact the midday blazing high sun is the worst kind of weather to shoot photos in. It makes children squint, it casts horrible shadows on faces and it just generally isn’t the most flattering time of day to shoot.  Of course there are some memories you just don’t want to miss, but if you can try, find some shade.

As an example see this photo below. I love it regardless as it shows my little girl having fun splashing in the sea but at this time the sun was quite high and you can see it casts quite a lot of shadows on her face. It was about 4pm at this point so you can see that if I had done it at midday it would have been even worse.

Image source: Mummy Daddy and Me Image source: Mummy Daddy and Me

These photos below were all taken in the shade outdoors and are some of my favourites. It was still light enough that I didn’t get a grainy image, but I don’t get any of those harsh shadows.

Seek out the golden glow

 My absolute favourite type of photography is shooting the golden hour, where you get that beautiful hazy, golden effect on all your photos. Of course this kind of style doesn’t appeal to everyone, but it is my favourite. It is that time in the morning or evening when the sun is low in the sky. The time it is like that really depends on the time of year, but take advantage of the children being off school and let them stay up late to take photos.

Think about the photo you are taking

Photographing pictures of children is difficult. They don’t stop moving, usually don’t want their photo taken, or just are generally finished doing whatever they were doing by the time you take your camera out. But if you can take a couple of minutes to really think about what you are taking a photo of and try and frame your shot.

For example think about the background you are taking a photo of and what will be behind them. In both the below photos you wouldn’t think it but the beach was actually quite busy and there were lots of people swimming in the sea and walking along the beach. But by moving myself to a different position and also waiting for people to walk past it made it look as if the beach was deserted bar us. Sometimes clutter in the background is good, it makes it more like real life, but for certain photos it can look so much better if you think about what is around you before you take the photo.

Photograph movement

 It can be really hard to photograph your child moving about and so many times I have got back home after a fun day out to realise half my photos are blurry because I haven’t got my photo settings right. But half the fun of summer is being outdoors and enjoying the sunshine, so it is the perfect time to capture the fun your children are having.

If you have a small compact camera, then sometimes they are really good at freezing movement, but your best bet is to use a DSLR on manual mode. As a rule of thumb if you are photographing movement and want to freeze it, then you need your shutter speed to be really fast. Shutter speed is how much light is let into the camera when the shutter is open. So if you want to freeze motion in a photograph then you want it to be at least 1/500 if you are photographing children. On the opposite end of the scale if you want to add a sense of blur to a photo then you would set you shutter speed to be fast, e.g 1/50 or 1/100.

For example to get some fun shots of my little girl being thrown in the pool I set my settings to be shutter speed 1/640, aperture 3.2 and ISO 160.

Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me

And for this one I set my settings to exactly the same as above…

Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me

Use your Camera Phone

 I get really nervous about taking my expensive camera to the beach or by the pool- all the water, sand and suncream, not to mention the heat just generally makes me worried. Don’t be afraid to use your camera phone, you can still get amazing photos from it.

Below are a selection of photos from our recent summer holiday, all taken with my phone. My favourite apps for editing phone photos are VSCO cam and Afterlight.

Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me Image source: Mummy Daddy & Me

Katie Ellison
Katie Ellison

Katie Ellison has been writing on her blog Mummy Daddy Me since 2011, a visual diary of the adventures her little family of 5 get up to. It's a record of all the ordinary moments, extraordinary moments and all those ones in between. You can see more of her photos on her favourite photos page.

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