Photography: How to Use Summer Light to Your Advantage

BlogHer Original Post

I get so excited for photography in the summer time.

It's when my favorite subjects (my children) are surrounding me all the time doing things I want to document.

Whether it's just a perfect sunlit afternoon,

a walk on the beach at sunset,

or capturing fireworks on the 4th of July,

  or just the overall fun of summer,


here are some things I have found that work!

1) Check your lighting and turn off your flash!

Lighting is key in taking good pictures. If you look for beautiful light, you are almost certain to end up with beautiful pictures. In the summer, there is good light everywhere.

When I first started family photography, I did it purely on my driveway in front of my garage. I know, that sounds very picturesque, right? But I got great results. I bought a black, king-sized flat sheet and hooked it up to the bottom of my open garage and shot away. Something about the light bouncing off the pavement with the backdrop created beautiful light:

Porches or garages are great in the shade. This next one was on our back porch. Again, the pavement creates a great reflector of beautiful sunlight to light up faces.

Open doorways, with you outside and your child or children looking out the door, also provides you with great light. This one was just inside our back door.

(Investing in a $9.99 fan creates a neat effect, too.)

Even though shady areas work great, don't limit yourself to just that. In the early morning or evening when the sun slants just so, there is gorgeous light to be found.

If it's too hot outside, you don't need to invest in expensive lighting equipment if you want to get good indoor shots.  You just need to know where to look for the light. Almost every home has got some good lighting somewhere if you just look for it. I utilize beautiful light inside my house wherever I have north-facing windows.

2) Learn your camera and watch tutorials on the internet.

Know which aperture to use when you want to take a portrait (the lower the number the better) and how fast your shutter speed should be for shots like this:



Know your ISO settings and know to adjust them when the sun starts sinking down low.





Some of the best summer shots can be found at night. If you know your camera well enough, you can capture things like this:



and this:


(More sparkler pictures in this post.)

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