Tips for Photographing Kids During the Summer Months
Warm, summery days have arrived and if you're like us, you love spending time outside. Lil is a busy little girl, and these days it's a bit harder to get photos of her because I can't just plop her on a blanket, make silly noises and have her stare at me with her big blue eyes. Those days have passed. Sigh...
So what's a shutter-happy mama to do? I have a few tips for you to use, whether you use a dSLR or an iPhone, to get great photos of your littles as they enjoy all the festivities and fun that summer has to offer. And to make it easy to remember, just think OLAF! And for the sake of this type of post, I'll use my personal photos of Lily, shot on iPhone and dSLR.
Yes, Olaf is a snowman who loves warm hugs and summer, and it's also an acronym for the tips I'm about to give you!
Outside. Lighting. Action. Family & friends.
Ok, so more like OLAFF...
Summer Photo Tip #1: OUTSIDE
Sounds obvious, right? Go outside! You're going to get most of your best summer photos outside because you're going to get the most natural light outside. Not only that, but most of your action will be outside. Locations will be your backdrop to your activities. A river, a mountain, a beach, a campground, your backyard, the neighborhood cul de sac, the playground, the cute ice cream shop in the center of town, the park, the farmers market...The possibilities are endless. All you need is a sense of adventure and lots of sunscreen.
Summer Photo Tip #2: LIGHTING
Now that you're outside, it's important to know the difference between types of light, namely sunlight.
When you're out in the sun between 9am and 4pm, with no source of shade, that's called full sun. Your photos will be bright and colorful, but skin may appear washed out depending on skin tone. You may experience harsh shadows on the faces of your kids, as the sun is high in the sky. Green grass, colorful playground slides, blue plastic pools and a number of other environmental items may reflect colored light onto skin and faces, giving your kids a green/blue/red cast.
If you're like Lily, Sean and I and have super pale, sensitive skin, shade is your best friend. Hoist an umbrella or canopy, find a big tree to sit and play under, or just avoid midday sun as best you can. Staying in the shade, you'll still get plenty of bright outdoor light without harsh shadows on faces. Photos can be brightened and adjusted using a photo editing app, so don't worry if it looks too dark.
Early Morning & Late Afternoon
A photographer's favorite time to shoot, in the 2 hours after sunrise and before sunset. The sun is low, it's (usually) cooler, and the light is present but much softer and flattering, no matter where you are.
An overcast sky is nature's lightbox, and it's a beautiful thing. Light isn't too bright, no harsh shadows on faces, and I'll just reiterate, usually not as hot. This is my favorite weather for taking photos during the day at the beach, where there's no shade and scenery can get very bright and washed out. This photo below was taken around 9am on a Sunday morning at Duxbury Beach on an overcast day in July.
Extra tip: going to the beach on an overcast morning will likely give you more open space and less sunburned bodies to step over to get your action shots.
Summer Photo Tip #3: ACTION
Think about capturing your kiddo in action. These are the little things that will tell your family narrative, memories to look back on and remember what it was like when they were young and tiny. The little things they enjoyed, the giggles of running through a sprinkler, the chocolate faces after demolishing an ice cream cone...these are the moments to remember.
And it's not like they're going to look at you and smile anyways.
Get really close. Think about different angles, shooting from above or below. Frame your subject with their surroundings, be it a storefront, trees, grass, or carefully placed pool noodles.
Summer Photo Tip #4: Family & Friends
The best summer memories are made with family & friends. Whether it's a cookout, a day at the beach or just hanging out in the backyard, hand off your camera and play with your kids. Get wet, get messy, and get pictures of it. If there's one lesson I can pass on for family photography, it's to be present in your family photos.
Set aside feelings of self-consciousness and fear. Have fun with your kids. Snap silly selfies. Show the world that you were there when the giant inflatable pool deflated and flooded the backyard, when your kids buried you in the sand and you got the worst sunburn of your life, when you forgot about the time and sat around the campfire late into the night telling stories and having a laugh. Include siblings, cousins, friends, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
Photograph who and what you love and you'll never take a bad picture. Honest to God. There are times a moment trumps technicality. A smile or hug outshines grain and focus. The feeling is more important than the f-stop.
That's it for now! What are your plans for the summer? How do you plan to capture your memories? Do you primarily use your phone camera, or a digital SLR? What are you most looking forward to?
Next I'll be sharing my favorite picture editing apps for your phone and devices!