How to Take Awesome Summer Photos
by Jamie Canter on May 25th, 2016

​Both Lorry and I began our photography career as moms with cameras. We wanted to capture those moments that matter to us. We invested in nice DSLR cameras and learned how to use them. (This is key!)  With summer coming and lots of family time on the agenda, we wanted to share some tips about capturing your own family moments.

1. Find Good Light

It doesn't matter how good your camera is, if you don't have good light, you probably won't have photos worth keeping. Look for places where there is even light, which will either be shade with no dappled light (spots of light) or out in the sun.  It is very distracting to have a photo with specks of light all over someone's face. If the sun is out, put the sun behind whomever you are shooting. Your camera will still be able to take the photo and they are less likely to squint. If you are shooting with your phone, click the area on their face to make the camera focus on this area instead of the sun. If you are shooting inside, find a place next to a window where the light is coming in onto your family's faces.
Here's a photo I took one year at Christmas.  You can see the dappled light on his face and his shirt.  While the photo is still okay, it isn't that great.
​2. Avoid the 10-4.

Don't shoot outside between the times of 10 and 4 unless you can find a totally shaded area.  Your camera will be able to capture image just fine during this time, but because of the position of the sun, most people squint when outside without sunglasses.  Children's eyes are even more sensitive, so it will be harder to get a natural smile with eyes open in bright sunlight. Action shots where kids are jumping into the water or wrestling or playing ball are fine during this time, but posing for a shot will be harder.  Pick a day that you are going to take pictures and then start the day or end the day with photos, especially if you want photos to frame or put on the wall. The Golden Hours to take photos are the first hour after sunrise and the last hour before sunset.  The light is soft and flattering and you don't have to worry about it being in anyone's eyes or dappled light.
Here's a photo of my son during the dreaded 10-4. There is no chance for open eyes in this bright sunlight!
Here's a photo of my youngest from a beach trip long ago. Great shot but too much sun! 

​​3. Capture real moments

Don't tell your kids to say cheese - it makes for fake smiles and strained faces. Do something to make them laugh, wait a few seconds and then have them look right at you (say, "Look at me!") and snap the photo.  Another idea is to have them look at each other and when they do, they usually start laughing.  I love to capture laughing photos of my kids!  Plan an activity around the time you want to take photos (think early in the morning or late in the day) , so the kids are doing more than just taking photos. Get your camera out and just wait for moments to appear. 

4. Use Props

Bring a chalkboard to write a saying on it, like "Happy Birthday" or "Thank You" or "Merry Christmas from the Smiths."  You can have this photo printed as cards and give them away during the year to friends, teachers and family.  No matter what you spend to have the cards printed, they will still cost less than the $4-$5 you spend for each card at the store!!!

5. Free Art!

Capture interesting elements or landscape photos that will help you remember parts of a trip or place you visited.  Make prints of them and use them as art in your house.
I captured this on a trip to Hood River, Oregon.  So many gorgeous shots I have!
6. Learn how to use your camera!

Summer brings beach time, road trips and taking a break from the school year craziness, so use that time to learn how to use your camera. There is a YouTube video or blog for EVERY CAMERA that exists today, so you can find something that will tell you what all the buttons on your camera are for.  Learn how to shoot in Manual and you will really start to have fun! Check out these websites for some easy camera classes:
7. Print your photos!

Nothing makes a photographer more crazy than photos that never get printed. Photos are memories captured that bring a smile to our faces every time we see them.  Pick out a few of your favorites and put them on a wall,  in a frame, on your refrigerator, in your workspace or even in your car.  When the world gets crazy and you feel overwhelmed or even blue, looking at a photo of a capturedmoment will help you feel better and remember what is important. We call this photo therapy. Much cheaper than retail therapy!
The canvas on the left is a photo I took on a vacation trip to South Padre. I added the text and made a canvas out of it. The middle photo is from a location scout that I did and captured this photo of my youngest.  The far right is from a family photo shoot we did.  All of these photos make me smile and remind of the blessings I have!

Have fun!! Can't wait to see all the summer photos come across my Facebook and Instagram feed.

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Amy - May 26th, 2016 at 7:51 PM
Great tips!
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