Ah, summer. Long wistful sunny days. It’s the season that reminds me of my childhood the most. Picnic, trips to the beach, bike rides in the countryside with a fishing net in tow and a jam jar (full of tadpoles) dangling from my handlebars.
With the summer holidays on the horizon I wanted to give you some summer photography tips to help you capture memories with your little ones; whether that is on your phone or a DSLR camera. As usual it is all about the light and managing it to get the perfect shot every time.
Being an on location photographer in the UK poses it’s challenges. It’s not just about dodging the rain; but photographing in the sunny months brings up it’s own set of challenges.
So let’s talk about the sun. Yes, you remember the sun don’t you? It’s that big bright hot ball of light we sometimes see in the sky! Bless the good old UK weather!
It’s a common misnomer that bright sunshine is the best time to take photographs. Well it’s not, trust me. Shooting in harsh midday sun is never flattering or comfortable for your subject. Direct sunlight not only makes your subject squint but also it is very unflattering on the face causing areas of bright light and dark shadows. So what can you do to rectify this and get the best images you can? Here are my 3 top tips.
Look for areas of shade
I use the term ‘open shade’. Basically shaded areas that are not enclosed. A perfect example is the wall of a building that is shaded by the sun but still has lots of open light around it which will reflect onto your subject. Or on the edge of a shaded area (such as a canopy of trees). Experiment with moving your model into different parts of the shade and look at the light on their face. I typically favour the edge of the shade as it disperses into the daylight. Avoid shade directly under trees if you can as there can often be harsh dappled light coming through the trees and that can create hot spots in your image. Try and find an area of soft in direct light and you’ll be onto a winner.
Turn away from the sun
If you have no choice but to shoot in full sun try turning your subject away from the sun so that the light is behind them and not shining onto their face. If you are shooting with a DSLR camera make sure your meter is on centre weighted or spot metering and take a reading from your subjects face. If you are shooting on your phone tap your finger on the screen on the face and you should be able to make your subject brighter. Yes your background will be very bright but it can create a nice look. Play around with it as it’s a tricky one to master.
Photograph at different times of the day
I shoot the vast majority of my summer sessions in the evening. I typically start my sessions at about 8pm (sometimes later). Think for a moment about what the light looks like at the end of a sunny day just before the sun goes down. Photographers call this ‘The Golden Hour’. The sun is less harsh and lower in the sky. The warm glow of light at this time of day is perfect for portrait photography. You can get a similar effect first thing in the morning just after sunrise but the problem is you’d need to be up at 4am! Look for a gentle of halo of light around your subjects hair – to me that’s just magical.
Practice is the key. Movement is also a massive part of getting the perfect shot. Experiment with moving your model into different light and move yourself! Try out different angles and light and very soon you will find the ideal way to create summer image you love.
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