For kids summer is a parade of playgrounds, beaches, parks and zoos, luscious berries and Mr Whippy. For parents it can sometimes be harder to remember to unplug and enjoy it, let alone capture it.
We’re back at school now but it feels like summer has only just begun and I hope there are lots more berry smeared faces and sticky popsicle hands still to come. So here are some of my “must capture” summer moments, and a couple of quick tips for how you can make the most of them.
Playgrounds and outdoor adventures
Most of our summer activities happen in full sun, which is the hardest time to take a good photograph. When the sun is at its highest it casts harsh shadows across squinting little faces. So when you’re photographing kids engaged in sunny outdoor activities look for innovative ways to capture the moment without shooting straight on to your child’s face.
Are the shadows they’re casting on the ground interesting? If you step back and photograph the whole scene can you capture the “feeling of summer”? Alternatively is there a pocket of open shade your child could play in instead? Open shade is where you can see shade shadow on the ground but there is nothing directly between you and the sky (e.g. you stand in the shadow cast by a row of trees). Have your child play in the shade but face out towards the light source so you can still capture catch lights in their eyes.
Summer Harvest & Frozen Treats
This is a great opportunity to play with colour. If you have time to think about what the kids are wearing and how it contrasts or compliments the colours of the seasonal foods you’ll love the result even more.
When photographing kids enjoying summer treats be ready to take a shot quickly! Set yourself up before handing over the goods. Try to get a picture before they dig in and then a close up of the messy hands and face after. Don’t forget to come down to kid height for these.
All that sun, sand and excitement is tiring! I love watching the peaceful sleep of exhausted little people. Don’t just stand and shoot from the doorway. This is a great time to come in really close and focus on the details like gorgeous eyelashes, smooth glowing skin, and sand scuffed feet.
The high noon sun is not going to aid you in getting a great shot. So look for alternatives to shooting straight on at a shadowy face. Can the details of the scene tell the story instead?
Sunrise and Sunset
There’s a reason we see so many gorgeous sunsets crowding peoples’ Instagram feeds this time of year! Along with sunrise (which can be painfully early) sunset is the best time to photograph during summer. Golden hour (the 90 minutes right before sunset) is that glorious time of day when you get soft, warm light and long low shadows. Golden hour comes late in summer, so it’s not always feasible with little ones, but if you can get out late in the day it’s well worth it to catch that soft golden glow.
The splash pad and swimming pool
All the same tips apply here, with one added thing. If you’re trying to capture movement or droplets frozen in motion you’re going to need to shoot with a camera on which you can control your shutter speed. You’ll want your SS as high as you can get it (which is pretty high on sunny summer days) to freeze all that splashing and spraying without motion blur.
Again, look at how the details can tell the story. Shadows on the ground, sunglasses covered in water spray, splashing feet etc.
What's your favourite kiwi summer image to capture? Is there a moment you struggle to photograph in the way you'd like to? Let me know in the comments.