How To Photograph Your Summer

Summer is here! And that means there are lots of great photo opportunities for photographing your family. This is Meg from Snap Happy Mom and I want to give you tips on how to get great summer pictures in any situation!

Here are a couple photo opportunities and tips for what to think about in each situation.

Summer Photo Tips

Beach Pictures
When you take pictures at the beach, you want to think about two things.

The first is to be very careful about your background. The sandy beach will almost always be more crowded than the water. And you don’t want random strangers in your photos! Use the water as your background instead of the beach – it’s prettier, less cluttered with people, and does a great jump indicating where you went on vacation.

The second thing to remember about beach pictures is to think about the light. If the sun is shining on the water, it will probably be extra bright and reflected everywhere, which can be distracting. Instead of shooting at lunch time, try to shoot at the very beginning and very end of the day to get less contrast on the water. Make sure you focus on the people in the shot to get a correct exposure, and not the bright water around them.


Swimming Pictures

My first tip for swim pictures is to use your zoom lens, since the pool itself limits your mobility and ability to find the perfect angle. It’s usually a lot easier to get pictures when your children are near the edge, since you see less and less of them as they move away from the edge.

Swim pictures are all about anticipating the action. It’s hard to get a good picture when someone is swimming underwater, so plan your pictures around when your kids are jumping in, floating, and sitting on the edge. Older children can be photographed playing in the water as well. Just be safe and don’t pull out your camera if you’re supposed to be watching children!

I have lots more tips here about taking better photos during swim lessons, including what kind of day is ideal for beautiful photos.


Vacation Pictures

When you go on vacation, I want you to focus on capturing your memories on your camera. A lot of people feel like they should take pictures of the places and landscapes they visit, and while those are part of your vacation record, I want you to photograph the memories you are making more than anything else. You can always go back to visit the place, but you won’t get to relive that trip with your kids at that age. Get pictures of your family doing things, not just smiling at the camera in front of a gorgeous landscape!

Look for action shots that really feature the place you are in. Whatever you’re doing, photograph it! Take pictures while hiking, window shopping, exploring, eating, walking, playing, relaxing and everything else you do. Try to capture the emotion of what you’re doing – like how excited my son was to drive the tractor, or the expression when your child gets to meet their favorite character at an amusement park. The point is to take pictures of your family doing things they don’t get to do anywhere else.


Fireworks pictures

Firework pictures are fun, although they have add an element of chance into your photos, since you don’t know exactly when they’ll go off! It can be just as fun to capture fireworks you set off yourself as it is to get get the big holiday shows.

Put your camera on shutter or manual mode, spending on what you know how to use. You want to adjust to a higher f/number (f/11 or higher). You can keep your ISO low if the fireworks are close, since they are pretty bright.

You’ll need to prop your camera up or use a tripod- you can’t handhold a shutter this slow! Turn off your flash, focus on the sky manually and then start experimenting with your shutter to get the effect you want. It totally depends, but it’s usually between 1 and 3 seconds for fireworks. Fiddle with the exposure until you get it right; the longer it’s open, the more “streaks” of color you’ll get!

Sparkler Pictures

If your kids are old enough to play with sparklers safely, then it’s super fun to teach them to write or draw sparkly pictures. You’ll want a long shutter speed, low aperture, high ISO, and a tripod to make this work! (Start with the settings above, except with a ISO of at least 1000.)

The trick is to just keep moving that sparkler while the shutter is open. You can either keep your body totally still so it shows up in the photos, or move your feet to become “invisible” to your camera. Don’t forget to write letters backwards!


Lazy Summer Days

Lastly, I think it’s worthwhile to photography your summer vacation at home; the long afternoons of reading, playing, and spending time together at home. The break from school is such a difference from the rest of the year, so capture it! I love to sneak a picture when we come home with a new pile of library books, or catch my kids just snoozing on the couch. Not all of your summer has to be outing and adventures – the lazy days at home are great too!


What’s your favorite part of summer? Make sure you record it!



Meg is passionate about teaching moms how to use their own cameras! She believes families should have professional photos taken each year, but wants mothers to have the skills and confidence to photograph the candid moments that happen all year long! Meg's blog, Snap Happy Mom, offers tips and tutorials for all the things moms want to know about photography, including how to get your children to smile naturally, and how to choose a camera and learn how to use it. Meg has three adorable children at home, and works as a photographer in Arizona.

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