Ah, summer. Endless days and even longer nights. It's the perfect time to focus on capturing what makes the days special for your family. Committing to a daily, or even weekly, shooting project can help you capture the small details that are your summer from the drops of water that drip off your son's hair at the pool to the chipped nail polish always visible through your daughter's sandals. The obvious moments, such as how you spent your beach vacation, deserve to be captured as well but through daily shooting these memories can be captured as a story rather than as snapshots of where you went.
Light can be difficult to work with during the very sunny summer months. Detra Perrotti, creator of the original online photography workshop Finding the Light is a master of shooting under these challenging conditions and offers and incredible amount of guidance and feedback during her course.
Detra recommends always being prepared by having your camera out and ready, it's best to be prepared than regret missing the moment later! I can attest that you never know where beautiful light will present itself. Thanks to Detra, I can now place my children in the right spot, even under the harshest lighting conditions, to capture the moment. Another great lesson I learned was when and how to use a reflector, with my favorite being the Lasolite Tri Flip 8-in-1 because it has a handle and a flat side making it possible for me to use alone. I've also learned to look for pockets of light and unique patterns of hard light that are fleeting and hard to replicate. Beautiful outdoor photos are possible all summer long!
If like me, summer heat often drives you indoors, it is still possible to get great summer photos using the summer light to your advantage.
Detra recommends using indoor lighting to backlight your photos she says:
I love shooting into the light indoors, it really sets a magical feeling to the everyday moments captured! Embrace the shadows, and remember itʼs the feeling you're after, not perfection! These types of shots usually are not sharp clear portraits but more of artistic creation! If needed I will suggest to my child to go over to the that sunny spot and play, sometimes that works lol! When my daughter was small I would tell her to go to the bright spot and cover her eyes and count to three, we made it a game!! You could have them look out window, have them count the clouds etc. This will usually allow a heavenly light if you backup and capture it all!
Colie James, who teaches the online workshops Telling Stories with Lifestyle Photography and The Business of Telling Stories, makes a living from documenting the everyday of her clients and teaching others how to tell both their stories and the stories of others. Her workshops offer detailed tips on how to move your images from snapshots to stories, with an entire section devoted to one of my summer goals capturing a Day in the Life of a child or a family. She offers some tips to help focus your summer images:
Tip: Make a list of 5 things that currently happen in your everyday life worth documenting.
Tip: Always take the shot, then consider if there is any way to improve it and shoot again.
Other wonderful photographers who specialize in capturing the everyday are Ginger Untzela who captures the beauty of her own family daily as well as documenting the reality of life when a loved one has Alzheimer's Disease in her personal project Life with Pito. Her Finding the Beauty workshop teaches participants to find and capture the beauty of everyday life, even when there are challenges.
Through the amazing contact I've had with accomplished everyday photographers I've learned the importance of using the right lens to capture it all. Wide angle lenses that can capture the entire scene and truly tell a story are essential. But, at other times you will want to stand back, be the observer and let the story unfold without your subjects being aware of your presence. Sigma makes high quality affordable lenses that meet both these needs. Neither Sigma's 12-24mm 4.5-5.6 nor their 70-200 2.8 will disappoint!
One thing everyone who shoots everyday can agree on is that it's essential to always have your camera with you. With all of the other things you need to carry over the summer it can be hard to find a place for your camera when preparing for an outing. A lifesaver for me has been the Shutterbag Heirloom. Not only is it gorgeous and made out of high-quality leather, but it seems impossible to fill and can be worn five different ways, including as a backpack for those days your gear feels too heavy. For a different but classic look, Epiphanie also makes bags large enough to carry a ton comfortably, with my favorite being the Clover.
Another thing nearly everyone can agree on is actually getting in some photos with your family. The Manfrotto Befree Tripod is a fantastic lightweight tripod that can handle a good amount of weight and folds down small enough to carry around.
Now get out and capture those fleeing summer memories!