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9 Ideas to Help You Make the Most of Summer Photography

Updated: Jul 1, 2023


Summer event

Summer is not generally considered to be the best time for photography, particularly for landscape photography. The light in summer can be very harsh, there’s not a lot of variation in colour and most landscape subjects don’t look their best.


Aside from using summer to scout locations that you might come back to in other seasons, is there anything you can do to develop your photography during the summer months?


I don’t want to leave my camera aside for the summer so here are 9 ideas to help you make the most of summer photography.


#1. DO URBAN/STREET PHOTOGRAPHY


Summer is often the best time to do urban photography as the sun produces strong areas of light and shadow providing ample opportunities for creative photography. In addition, summer is the time when people are out and about, streets are bustling with activity and there are numerous opportunities to find interesting images. This makes street photography particularly appealing.



Strolling along the streets

I must admit that I am more likely to do street photography when it is warm outside and I don’t have to contend with biting cold or constant rain. But aside from that, summer brings out the best of our city streets and towns. It is the time when streets are full of colour and energy and a great mix of all human activity. While landscapes will wait for autumn to come around to look their best, the streets are looking their best in summer and this is when there is potential to capture some truly unique moments.


I love early mornings for street photography, when people are starting off their day. I love to watch them travel, meet others and carry out their morning routines.


Midday offers different opportunities with different people populating the streets, while weekends bring out families, groups of young people and festivities while colourful characters adorn the streets.


Night photography in summer can also be an exciting activity, capturing nightlife and fantastic city lights, sunsets and silhouettes.

Summer nights can provide good images

Summer is without doubt the season that brings people out into the streets so it is ideal for street photography.


#2. GIVE MACRO PHOTOGRAPHY A TRY


Summer is a great season for macro photography. Flowers are at their best, insects are in abundance and if conditions are dry and warm we can get as close as possible to our tiny subjects, especially if it involves lying on the ground.


Macro is an interesting genre of photography. It allows us to capture images of subjects that are usually ignored or taken for granted. We see them close-up and in great detail and it is fascinating to bring the small world to the attention of our viewers.


Macro photography increases our powers of observation and gives us the chance to reveal the extraordinary in the ordinary. It requires patience and perseverance as there is often a long wait to capture our subject, but when we do the results are so worthwhile.


Close-ups can work well in summer

I don't have a dedicated macro lens, but I do like to try close-up photography whenever I can.


#3. GO TO THE COAST


While all seasons are good for coastal photography, and many photographers feel that the calm conditions in summer are not ideal for capturing dramatic seascape images, I would suggest that we can look at this in another way.


Why not go to the coast in the early morning or late evening and witness the magnificent colours of the sky over the horizon as day begins and ends?


Why not soak in the calm atmosphere of the sea as it ebbs and flows and try some long exposure images?


Why not explore rock formations, coastal vegetation, sandy beaches?


Why not try some abstract photography?


Abstract seaweed pattern

The coastline is constantly changing and there is always something to be seen and photographed.


#4. VISIT A SEASIDE TOWN


Seaside towns are great for doing candid photography in summertime. They are lively and usually buzzing with activity. If you don’t want to do street or candid photography there are all kinds of interesting shapes to be found in seaside places.


Shapes and patterns are all around

Amusement arcades, funfairs, street vendors, food and ice cream stalls all provide unique subjects for us to capture and they also offer opportunities to experiment with compositions such as sub-framing.


No matter how small the seaside town may be, summer will bring out it’s best side.


#5. TELL A STORY THROUGH YOUR IMAGES


Another idea for summer photography is to try storytelling through photography . UK photographer James Popsys advocates taking a photo about something rather than of something. He believes that if a photograph is about something the viewer will stop awhile, think about what is happening, ask questions and guess what the story is about, whereas an image of something is just that, an image of something and fairly self-explanatory.


It can be difficult at times to know if an image tells a story, and if that story is interesting to others. For example, I believe that the first image here tells a story. We wonder what the man is doing and can guess that he is getting his boat ready to take it into the water.

Image about something

image of something

By contrast, the second image, taken in roughly the same location, is just an image of a lone tree.


By focusing on storytelling, even in summer we can capture some compelling images.


#6. DO A PROJECT


Doing a project can give you an interest and a focus for summer photography. I like to pick something that has potential to be ongoing. For example, my first project was boats and I looked for unique and interesting ways to photograph boats whenever I saw them. In fact I still love to photograph boats so this project is ongoing.


Last summer I began to photograph motorcycles and this has extended into this year.


Motorcycle project

Motorcycle project

I keep all the images from my projects in separate folders and I intend to use them for photobooks. I find that this is an interesting way to keep photographing regardless of the weather conditions, and the fact that I have an end product in mind keeps me motivated.


#7. TAKE ON A CHALLENGE


This is a similar idea to a project except that it is usually shorter in duration. I have taken part in several photography challenges during the past year and I find that going out with a challenge in mind helps to keep me focused.


The latest challenge I am taking is to photograph movement so I kept this in mind on a recent visit to the coast.


Movement challenge

Movement challenge

#8. WORK ON YOUR COMPOSITION TECHNIQUES


This might be the least interesting of the summer photography ideas but it is useful. Sometimes I go out in ideal conditions and I come away with a poor image because I didn’t get the composition quite right. Using less optimal conditions to work on composition and experiment with different techniques works for me because it takes away the pressure to return with a good image for my efforts. In this case, improvement is the goal and hopefully the rewards in the form of good images will be seen at a later stage.


Leading line

Attempt to balance image

#9. GO WHERE THE SUMMER CROWD GOES


Summer is great for carnivals, street parades, field events, festivals, visitor attractions and many more occasions where people gather. They are colourful, energetic, diverse and often provide very unique and interesting photographic opportunities. Why not check out a summer event near you!


Summer event

Summer event

The strong sunlight can be seen in the photograph (taken with my phone!) so it can't be classed as a good image, but sometimes you can catch a moment when the sun isn't so strong. The main thing is to be there!


FINAL THOUGHTS


Summer may not be the best season for landscape photography but that does not mean that there isn’t something to photograph. I find that it’s the season to branch out, try something new and discover all the photographic opportunities that I might be missing.


So don’t let summer get in the way of your photography. Embrace it, challenge yourself and enjoy what you discover.


Visitor attraction

Viewing Tower, Avondale, County Wicklow, Ireland

Visitor attraction


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