6 Tips for Taking Summer Photos

Four pairs of flip flops in a row on beach

It’s been over a year since many of us could travel and take summer photos (remember vacations?) This season promises to rectify that, so here are some of our favorite summer photo tips. We’ll review specific photo types as well as subjects. And remember the mantra: quality over quantity!

Interestingly, professional photographers view summer as being the most challenging time of the year for photography. So let’s start with the technical stuff. Since most of us use our phones for shooting, that’s what we’ll focus on first, followed by our favorite subjects to photograph.

Burst Photos

Burst mode is a powerful tool, and great for capturing summer action like diving into a pool. In Burst mode, your phone’s camera will take multiple images per second (iPhone will shoot 10 frames per second). Therefore, you’ll get a lot of similar shots unless there is a big difference between each frame. Burst is great for activities, but not so much for other shots like landscapes or portraits. The other issue: be sure to edit your burst photos when done, keeping only the shots you want. You don’t need 10, 20 or 30 similars when a few will tell the story. But note: you can also make fun gifs with each Burst sequence before editing out the still frames you no longer need.

When taking a one-off still photo, focus on one shot at a time. No need to take dozens! It will also be easier to edit later. Mindful photography will result in better images and improve your eye. More editing tips below.

Live Photos

Love it or hate it, it’s an option. Live Photos records a video 1.5 seconds before you take the picture and 1.5 seconds after you take the picture. See our post on Live Photos for more ideas. Note that this is a preset option on iPhones 6 onward. You can learn how to dismantle it here if it’s not your preference.


Editing photos is something we are all constantly trying to catch up on. Most people view this as a chore – but editing is really about storytelling. You are choosing the images that tell your story.

A quick editing tip: click on the Heart icon which automatically identifies them as a Favorite and moves a virtual copy to an album in Apple Photos for quick access when looking for these photos later on.

If you are shooting with a DLSR or other camera phone, there are quite a few apps and photo catalogs that have similar rating systems. We use Lightroom’s star system.

The most crucial aspect of editing is timing. Mark them as soon as you can while the photo and memory are still fresh. Your ability to choose the best images will be a much easier. Plus, you will have started a great editing practice.

Botanical Beauties

Seasonal flowers and gardens reach their pinnacle during the summer months. From suburban yards to urban window boxes and parks to the countryside, greenery and colors abound. Take advantage of nature’s glorious display by using different techniques. If shooting with a DSLR, reach for your zoom or macro lens for a focused close-up. Experiment with a shallow depth of field for beautifully blurred out backgrounds. Or try your wide angle for a swath of color.

The Golden Hour

Summer’s harsh daylight and stark shadows can make photography difficult when trying to shoot family and friends in a flattering light. Instead, opt for an overcast day for your portraits, or seek shade. The best light, however, is during the golden hour – the time frame is just before sunrise and right around sunset. The sun’s rays are longer, warmer and gentler and create a softer light. Objects and landscapes look better as well – infused with a romance and magic that only summer can produce.

Weather or Not

Of course it’s not all sun and fun in summer – thunderstorms, showers and hazy, hot and humid days are also part of summer. If you are a storm chaser, a darkened summer sky can offer some dramatic photography opportunities: think bolts of lightning, moody cloud formations, rainbows and sun rays peeking thru, or steel grey skies and white capped water. Experiment with long exposures but you’ll need a tripod for that. If you prefer to keep cool and play indoors, museums, historical sites, and churches all offer interesting and often architecturally significant subjects to focus on.

We hope these summer photo tips help you make the most out of your summer photos!