Summer is here! Kids are out of school, calendars are filled with fun activities, and along with all that you have going on, your camera is probably going to get a lot of use in the next couple of months. Isn’t this the most exhausting yet amazing time of year?!
We are a bunch that thrives on adventure and experience as much of the outdoor world as we possibly can, but one thing that is SO important to me is that I live in these moments as much as I document them. It’s so easy to get lost behind the camera and think that EVERY second of every event is worth documenting, but I’ve learned to take a step back, go in with a plan, and end the summer with a photo book filled with details of a good summer and a heart filled with good stories.
If you feel like you overwhelm yourself with shooting in the summer months only to end it with an overwhelming amount of digital files and a sense of regret for spending way too much time behind the camera, I’m so excited to share with you my 4 tips to documenting your summer story.
Today, I want to start by talking about one of my favorite things to document, especially in the summer: details! Frankly, I’d say they are one of the biggest parts of the story. The summer foods we look forward to all winter, sticky fingers, wet hair, bugs, the grill cooking burgers, sunscreen bottles…you get the point. Whether you are spending your summer taking afternoon walks to the park and day trips to the museum, or going hiking in far off jungles for weeks at a time, what are the details of that story?
If shooting details is way outside of your comfort zone, below are a few things to get you thinking about what you can be looking for.
What does your summer taste like?! Don’t document every meal, document the special summer meals. We went on a trip to Iceland a few weeks ago and we ate a lot of American-style food, I didn’t take photos of that, but it was the photos of Icelandic fare that I made sure I snapped photos of. When we go on our family weekend camping trips, I won’t take photos of the peanut butter sandwiches my kids eat for lunch, but the special jambalaya that I make in the skillet over the fire that is significant to this season. The juicy watermelon, the melting ice cream, the fresh berries, and the cilantro from the garden I insist on putting in everything…those are the photos I’m going to take. Maybe every summer you go to a special hot dog stand or picnic spot in the park or make pitchers of frozen margaritas (I’m on my way, if that’s the case!) Those are special and those are your flavors of the season.
Landscape and environment
What does your summer look like? Are there trees? Skyscrapers? Sun? Snow? Water? Show that. When we were in Iceland, I wanted to make sure that I took photos that make my kids say “Wow! I can’t believe mom and dad went here!” when they look at them when they are older. I wanted to show the animals, the mountains, the lupines, and how much fun we had. Maybe you want your kids (or whoever you are passing your photos onto) to say, “They always loved walking on that beach!” or “This is the street that Mom made us all hold hands EVERY single time.” And don’t forget to show where summer happens. Whether you’re at home, a hotel, or a tent, it’s an important detail in your summer story!
What are your favorite things or your kids’ favorite things of the summer? We all tell those stories, “Johnny ALWAYS carried that bear around when he was a kid.” but then for some reason, the photo of Johnny and the bear doesn’t exist…take the photo of the bear! The favorite raft that always get’s laid on or the hat that doesn’t get taken off without tears. They are part of everyday and often get overlooked, but chances are, next summer Johnny won’t have the bear, the raft will be flat, and there will be a different hat.
Okay, so I hope those give you a few ideas of the details in your summer story that you can be documenting. One last piece of advice that I will echo throughout this series is know when to put the camera away. If blueberry pancakes are a summer staple, document it once, not every morning. Not only do you miss out, but your tribe might start to get annoyed and revolt. And really, who wants a revolt to go down in the summer?!
Happy detail hunting and I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about getting in the frame in your summer stories!
Ashley Manley is a serial personal project shooter with a love for documenting real moments on her small farm in Central Illinois. Aside from her family, the loves of her life are her fuji X-T2, fujinon 23mm lens, helping other photographers to stay inspired, all the black and white things, and wine in a box. She left social media at the beginning of 2017 but she loves new friends, so visit her website and shoot her an email already!