Summer photography
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Part 1 – summer is close to home too!

Lesson 10 Module 5

Summer is also at home

Let's face it, however much we might wish for it, summer is not all about fancy holidays, or even the less fancy holidays. Summer memories are made close to home too and often they are the ones that are the most memorable, because because we are at our most relaxed. There is less underlying stress and pressure To.Have.Goddamn.Fun.Because.We.Paid.A.Fortune.To.Be.Here. And I guess most importantly, they are what's real. 

So when we talk about photographing summer, I want to talk about those times too. I want to encourage you as much as possible to not forgo photographing them, but instead to embrace their ordinary beauty. 

We have already talked about adopting a storytelling approach and this is something I would really love for you to keep going with. But I want to give you a few more strategies for capturing those beautifully ordinary moments, because they are all too often overlooked. 


1. SUMMER BINGO

Put together - or better still, if they're the right ages - get your kids to compile a list of summer activities or highlights or just words you associate with it and make it your plan to 'click' them all off as you go through the summer. That way you can be sure that you haven't missed anything that's important to them! It doesn't mean you need to be limited to those, but it makes a good start. Pst, we have a list we will be sharing with you too!

Print your bingo list or frame it so the items can be marked off in a tangible way. Print the photos, display them so you can see what you captured and what you're still missing. 


2. Photo a day

I know our community, and I know that many of our community members are nearly half way through their 365 project, where they have committed themselves to capturing a photo a day for an entire year. It's an amazing way to really push your photographic skills, but it is a pretty big commitment - especially in the darker, colder months. On the other hand, it teaches you, like nothing else out there, to celebrate and capture the most ordinary moments in your family life, because when you look back at them, that's what really makes up the majority of our kids' lives. And to dip your toe in that pond, you could decide that you will take a photo a day for just the summer holidays. 

My top 10 tips for capturing photo a day ( as recommended by our community! ) 

 

  1. Not every photo will be perfect. Or even good. Or even passable. But they will capture key moments and emotions that would have gone unnoticed otherwise. 
  2. Not every photo has to be taken on your 'proper camera'. Phone pictures are just as valid! 
  3. Get your kids cooperation secured right at the start - tell them what you're doing, at the end of the day let the kids decide what photo will be 'the photo of the day', make it real and tangible for them
  4. At the end of your project -  print the photos - a summer adventures photo book will be a treasured memory, whether you stay close to home or venture further out. 
  5. If you miss a day, no biggie - just make sure you don't miss more than one in the row! It's OK to substitute or take two the next day, or bank one early too if you know you will struggle to get any camera time. 
  6. It's ok to take photos NOT of your kids to give them a break
  7. Download the photos daily and if you do edit them, spend as little time on the edits as possible - I find uploading directly from the camera to my phone and to Lightroom mobile is what works best for me
  8. Some days nothing really happens, and the kids watch stuff on their screens, or bicker with each other like it's an Olympic sport. Capture that. 
  9. Some days so much happens that you could pick 10 photos of the day and still feel like you have more than you need - it's fine, there is no Photo-a-day police. You can have more than one. 
  10. Connect with others who are doing a similar thing - our 365 groups have been hugely motivating and supportive and have carried me through periods when I really didn't feel like picking up a camera

3. Day in the life

If Photo-a-day feels too much, try smaller but more concentrated approach and commit to documenting a day in life of your family.

(Not everyday! That way madness lies!)

But pick a few days - some when seemingly nothing happens and some where lots happens, and commit to taking photos of your family consistently throughout that day. 

There are two general approaches to this : 

a) Shoot what you see :

As you go through the day, keep an eye out on everything that's going on : from brushing their teeth, to that midday nap, trip to the shops to get some milk or  the mess left after the friends have gone. It requires you to be more alert throughout the day and keep assessing what you see, but at the same time, you're less likely to miss a thing 

b) Timed 

You set yourself a timer to go off at various intervals and when you hear it, you pick up that camera and capture whatever is  happening. It's a less pressured approach because you're essentially relying on the frequency of the alerts to ensure you get the day's events consistently, but you may not be able to catch all the things that the other approach might guarantee. 

Or you could try a hybrid approach and set a timer to remind you to pick that camera up, but at the same time also photograph things as they inspire you. 

At the end of the day, gather together your best, key shots and share with your family! 

4. Themed weeks

Give your family a theme for the week - superhero week, reading week, outdoorsy week, fast week, gourmet week, arty week, new 'things' week  etc and see how it inspires both your activities and what you can capture. Alternatively, theme your photo practice weeks  - maybe one week you'll be spotting leading lines, the next only using a wide angle lens, the next hunting for rainbows - the possibilities are endless! 


5. Experiments

Its not so much a strategy, as a reminder that when you take photos often, and when you take photos of things that are less unique, more mundane, you take the pressure away from the photos having to be perfect and open the door to experimentation. 

So maybe after you captured your kids doing what they do, and they're still busy, try out something new to broaden your skills: 

  • try freelensing
  • play with your shutter speed and intentional blur
  • try back button focusing
  • try using flash
  • pick that go pro that you never really knew what to do with and try capture something with it
  • get inspired by someone else's' photo and see if you can recreate a similar outcome
  • switch things up - If you normally shoot with a phone, dust off that camera and see what you can do. If you normally shoot with a camera, use your phone and see how creative you can be with it.
  • under expose or over expose on purpose

I could go on and on with those lists but I think you get the gist. Whatever you do, be mindful and present with your camera. At the end of the summer, you will be thanking me. ( Flowers are fine. Champagne is better) 


And now with that in mind, I'd like to give you a couple of ideas for something summery to photograph close to home. 

Pen