There’s so many summer photography ideas waiting for you, it could be overwhelming.
That’s why we carefully picked 17 interesting themes to get you started with summer photography.
1. Haunt the Sunlight
First of all, take your camera and go outside. Your job is to find and capture the hottest and shiniest moments of summer!
No season has such wonderful sunlight and such long daytime. Take advantage of thаt.
This is your quest. Go around the city and look for sunlight coming through fresh leaves. Look for shining windows, for sunlit squares, for glistening bicycle wheels or fountain drops that now look like diamonds.
Find the best manifestations of sunshine and capture them in all their glory.
2. Taste the Berries
It depends on where you live. In a lot of places, summer is the only time berries are finally in season and don’t cost a fortune.
It’s the perfect time to put them to good use and shoot all the smoothie bowls, cocktails, and pies you were waiting for!
Even better, get creative and tell a small story.
A bunch of cherries can be a bunch of hot air balloons and carry a tiny house far, far away. Or you can combine berries with chalk drawings to photograph all the recipes you’re about to try!
You can also make a summer stash trying to preserve the most precious gifts of the season.
3. Go for a Picnic
It’s finally warm and sunny, so why not eat outside? You can just pack some coffee and a couple of sandwiches. Or you can arrange a fancy lunch with champagne, but a picnic is still a picnic.
Which is to say, the spread is astonishingly good for a camera.
If you are inclined to food photography, pay closer attention to appetizers and drinks.
How well do they pair with a tablecloth or a blanket? How do you arrange your props and how does every item work for a story?
I would need to think very hard to imagine things more precious than that.
4. Try to Catch Some Soap Bubbles
Mesmerizing, but short-lived and elusive, soap bubbles are a symbol of summer, which comes and goes so quickly!
You can take a photo and preserve their beauty forever in many ways. You can shoot portraits with your model blowing soap bubbles! Maybe you can get one of the large bubble wands which provide gigantic bubbles.
Or you can find a sweet and childlike scene where bubbles would be more than appropriate (say, ask your model to sit on swings).
Another way is capturing the scenes inside soap bubbles.
And last, but not least, soap bubbles in still life images have a proud history.
They are one of the most common symbols in classical vanitas paintings. They represent the transience of life, the brief beauty of it.
You can follow that tradition and create a modern still life with bubbles symbolizing something intangible, precious and beautiful.
5. Follow the Shadow Patterns
Sunlight and leaves create fantastic combinations, which practically beg you to take a shot.
Try to notice when sunlight creates beautiful ornaments on buildings, pavement or your model’s face and hands.
Or maybe you’re lucky to have exactly the same sunlight from your windows. Then you can take the most beautiful photo of summer breakfast.
These patterns are so varied and found in so many places. You can complete the entire 365 days project only with them.
Train your brain to notice the beauty of ordinary things. You’ll never run out of photography ideas.
6. Capture Short-Lived Beauty of Dandelions
In my part of the world, dandelions bloom from the middle of June to late August. They usually go straight to my summer photography list.
Dandelion puffballs are very fragile. Keep them separate from each other when you harvest them and keep them away from the wind.
Also, try using small amounts of hair spray to preserve their form. After you have your props ready, let your imagination run wild!
Dandelions can be a rich source for metaphors. Compare their seeds to parachutes or make a puffball gem in a golden ring.
7. Get Moving With Summer Sports
Surely, you have a volleyball or a basketball court in your neighborhood. Wait for a golden hour and go photo hunting!
If these sports aren’t your thing and you’re lucky to live near the sea, try surfing.
Even if you don’t go into the deep end of the water, scenes with surfers on a beach, preparing to face the waves, can be worthy of capturing.
Also, I was surprised how cool skating looks! All these jumps and tricks skaters can do are mesmerizing!
Maybe you should add them into your Summer Photo List too!
8. Play With Summer Food
It’s a perfect time for food photography! Ripe fruits are everywhere, and they are, finally, affordable.
Find your favorite recipes or photograph fruits as they are, in all their natural beauty.
Another thing you can do is to show the ingredients of your favorite fruit salad.
For this shot, I used a brick of floral foam you can find in any big flower shop. It’s perfect for holding small items like a fork, even with some fruits on it.
I placed my fork into the floral foam brick, pierced a fruit on it and used long needles to fix smaller fruits steady. Add some water splashes (or maybe a proper dressing?) and voila, your fruit salad photo is ready!
9. Chill With Cold Drinks
Staying hydrated is important for any human. And taking shots of beautiful drinks is fun!
Pay close attention to your styling, pick the best leaves and berries, make sure your ice cubes are transparent and crisp.
Try to keep your light source from the back of the glasses, so they appear glowing and shiny.
My favorite trick with drink photography is gluing everything to a backdrop and turning it upside down, so the splashes look like they’re defying gravity!
Give it a try, we have a full tutorial on this technique.
10. Make a Splash!
Remember your picnic? Try adding to it a splash of orange juice or a soda!
Usually, splash photography relies on special lighting, impulse lights (like speedlights) provide such a short speed duration. The liquid appears to be frozen in motion.
Doing this thick with shutter speed is hard because there’s usually not enough light. But summer has light in abundance!
Set your shutter speed at least on1/4000 and try this splash shot you always wanted to take!
11. Look Up
Here’s another summer challenge for you. Look up, photograph summer scenes and details from an unusual angle.
Shoot sunlight walls of houses. Photograph patches of sky visible through branches of trees.
Take a shot of something above you.
12. Don’t Forget About Popsicles
I can’t imagine summer days without some ice-cream! It always awakens pleasant memories.
I love to work with it even if it’s melting unforgivably fast.
There are many ways you can make a popsicle a hero of your photo. First, dive into food photography and just try to take the most delicious shot ever.
Second, attempt something more complicated, creating a story around your main object.
Here’s a story of summer homework assigned to a sweet tooth.
And finally, you can take an ice cream cone. Fill it with anything you like, anything that reminds you of summer and childhood.
Flowers, toys, notes, etc. Create your own summer flavor!
13. Look for Beauty in Details
This may be one of my favorite ideas for summer projects. Take your camera, go for a walk, try to find details that encapsulate summer with all its lightheartedness and fun.
Look for surfboards leaning to a sunlit wall, for a bubble wand forgotten on a fountain rim, for a weird baseball cap or with pair of sunglasses of a mannequin in a display window.
Think what summer means to you and then look for a detail that can represent exactly this feeling.
Even if you won’t be able to find a gorgeous shot, you will have a perfect diary of your own summer.
14. Say Something Nice With Real Type
An abundance of berries and flowers invites you to try your hand at food typography or any other kind of real type.
The first thing that jumps into my mind is writings on wet sand at the beach, but we shouldn’t stop here!
Try arranging a couple of nice words with blades of grass and some dandelions. Try to write something about hot weather with melting ice cream.
Or use all the cherries you can to simply say Yummy, that would be enough for a start.
15. Don’t Miss a Single Sunset
If you’re a landscape photographer, you can document an entire summer only in sunsets and it will be a fantastic art project on its own merits.
Summer sunset is also a perfect time for a specific variety of portrait and conceptual photography, namely silhouettes.
Making your subjects featureless apart from their outline against a bright background is the most effective way to tell a story.
You can make almost anything into a silhouette, but some objects are better than others.
Silhouettes can’t draw on the colors or textures to hold the interest of your viewer. Make sure you choose a strong and recognizable shape.
Make sure the silhouette is distinct, especially if it overlaps with other forms. Turn your camera flash off and go exploring a new two-dimensional world!
16. Play With Vivid Colors
In addition to other perks, summer is a perfect time to slightly change your usual color palette.
You can give it a more vivid and bright feeling.
You can start with making a travel flat lay using high color contrast, pick a bright background, add some paper tropical leaves and a pair of sunglasses, add a red passport or a blue wide-brimmed hat.
Shoot directly from above. Throw some more complementary colors. Rinse and repeat.
17. Never Stop Exploring
For photographers who look for genuine emotions and authentic scenes, summer journeys are a perfect gift.
You don’t even need to travel far away. Visit a small village near your city, go see the other bank of the river you see every day, visit your grandma.
Take a car or buy a train ticket, invite your friends.
We often think that proper travel is to travel abroad.
You can go just outside your hometown boundaries and find the most beautiful bridge or a roadside cafe with the most delightful pasties ever.
Give it a try!
The most important thing about summer photography is remembering the real treasures.
The technical stuff is surely important. But why you want to take your photos in the first place and what stories you’re trying to tell is paramount.
Go out and enjoy your summer. Take the best shots you can and have fun!