15 Fantastic Summer Photography Ideas

by | Light


Are you running out of things to photograph? Are you looking for summer photography ideas? Something to push your photography and get your camera in your hands every day!

I teach my students all of the time that skills are like a muscle. You have to work those muscles, or they become a bit weak. A photography project helps you flex those photography muscles and also inspires you…who doesn’t need a little inspiration?

Every photographer, whether just starting or a seasoned pro, needs something to challenge them, ideas and inspiration, and there are a lot of summer photography ideas. Today, I’ve got you covered. Here are my top 15 summer photography ideas.

Summer Photography Ideas

Summer Photography Ideas

#1 Traditions

Most of us take photos of things meaningful to us and what is more meaningful than our family traditions. You don’t have to limit yourself to capturing memories of holiday traditions. That’s why #1 on my list of amazing summer photography ideas is traditions.

Begin capturing your summer traditions as well. Does your family have any summer traditions? Camping in that special spot? Boating on the lake? A yearly family reunion? Spend time capturing the little details of these events to reflect on for years.

#2 Playing in the Water

While this is easy to capture in the summer, swimming in the pool, tubing in the lake, or jumping through the ocean waves, try to think outside of the box when capturing this summer photography idea. Capture those relaxed, candid moments that make summer so special.

Bathtime, playing in a puddle, and even doing the dishes. And if you can’t enlist the help of a child to capture the fun, use a four-legged friend, a partner of a friend and get their support. Remember to keep an eye on your shutter speed and capture the movement of the water in your shots.

#3 Camping Out

Number three on my list of summer photography ideas is one that brings back memories. One of my favorite memories of a child was taking every blanket that I could find and creating a fort. Camping out whether, in your living room, in a tent in the great outdoors or sleep away camp is a summer staple in most of our memories.

Use this summer photo idea and capture the details of your campout. Your group laughing and roasting marshmallows on the open fire, setting up the tent, or searching for firewood, look for the little details. If you are feeling really creative, shoot a day in the life on your camping trip. Shoot one photo every waking hour and show the details of your day.

#4 Sunset

You can capture a sunset shot any time of the year, but there is something magical about summer sunsets! The light is better than at other times of the year, and the colors are more vibrant. Capture the colors on the big, puffy clouds after a storm. The way the sun slowly dips behind the water. Narrow your aperture and work on capturing sun flares, or use the perfect time of day to work on your silhouette photos.

#5 Bubbles

Whether it’s bubbles from a bubble machine, hand-made bubbles or bubbles from a sink of dishes, everyone loves bubbles…and they create cool photos. Making sure that you have good light, and planning for the bubble shot will help you be successful. Narrow your aperture to capture the detail, and get ready and shot. Capture someone blowing the bubbles from different angles all while remembering to compose your shots, and remember to shoot before and after they blow so that you get the best shot.

#6 Watermelon

If I have to think of one thing that immediately takes me back to those summer memories, it’s watermelon. Set up a shot of this bright melon, worthy of a food magazine. Think outside the box and capture the seeds or a watermelon seed spitting contest—your favorite “subject” digging into the summer fruit. The possibilities are endless.

Summer photography ideas

#7 Bedtime

It doesn’t matter if you are an adult or a child, after a long day in the sun and a nice bath, nothing is better than curling up in bed. One of my favorite photos is of my son all clean and cozy in bed reading. Bedtime photos create wonderful memories but you don’t want them to create stress. Put on some relaxing music, dim the lights and start shooting.

Look for unique perspectives and change your angles. Shoot the details of the moment. Their little fingers wrapped around a favorite blanket, or their lashes just as their eyes have close. And remember you don’t have to have little kids to shoot great bedtime shots. Enlist your teenagers or partners to help you shoot this challenge or even shoot your own bedtime routine. Your toothbrush, or face wash. Your bed with the sheets pulled back. The possibilities are endless.

#8 Friends

Summer is the perfect time for gathering with friends. Whether your kids are hanging out, having sleepovers with their friends, sitting and sharing those summer secrets, dangling their feet in the water, or you and your friends sharing a drink at happy hour, try to capture the natural smiles and relaxed atmosphere. Remember that not every photo has to be a posed, in-your-face type of situation. Focus on your subject, create some background blur, and secretly capture those summer memories with friends.

summer photography ideas

#9 Bike Ride

Heading on a bike ride this summer? Maybe you are watching a bike race, or your kids just riding in front of your house. Up that shutter speed and start snapping. Capture the details of the bike. The spokes of the wheel, the bell, or the streamers on the handlebars.

Line up your riders and have them race towards you, or even set up an obstacle course for them to use. If you are out on a family ride get a shot of everyone riding down paths or a quiet road. Remember that if you are on your bike you need to have your camera securely around your neck or wrist, you don’t want your fun day to end in a broken camera.

#10 Farmers Market

Every Tuesday and Friday in my village there is a farmer’s market. Even if I have nothing on my shopping list, I love stopping at the stalls and seeing the bright-colored fruits and vegetables. Food is always a great time to use the composition rule of filling the frame. Set up your colorful shots and capture the harvests of the summer. You can go at your photos from a more photojournalistic approach, capturing the farmer selling his crop, or the crowds lined up for their purchases.

#11 Lemonade

Summer and lemonade go hand in hand right? That’s why I have added lemonade to my list of summer photography ideas. Capture the whole process of making the lemonade. Start picking the lemons from your tree or picking them out and your grocery store or farmer’s market. Set up a pretty shot while you cut and squeeze the lemons, and then do a magazine-worthy shot of your final product in a pretty pitcher surrounded by lemons. Or if your kids are helping set up a lemonade stand with the finished lemonade.

#12 Books

Number twelve is an easy summer photography idea. Most kids have a summer reading list, and often times the adults have a bit more time on their hands to read themselves, so what better time to capture photos of books. Again, think outside of the box…shoot from behind, over the shoulder. Stack up all the books you hope to read or have read that summer and photograph the spines or individual pages.

#13 Travels

Many of us get out and explore over the summer holidays. It doesn’t matter if it’s a “staycation” where you are exploring your home town or you are taking “the trip of a lifetime” use this opportunity to capture timeless memories. Spend a bit of time and research some locations that you want to add to your travel photoshoot list.

Wake up before everyone gets going and capture the popular destinations with fewer tourists. Practice and experiment with the rules of composition and try to capture the locals to tell your story-remember to always ask permission. Remember to be patient, have your camera with you at all times and still have fun!

#14 Seashells

At the beach this summer? How could I have a list of summer photography ideas and not have seashells on it? Try capturing the details of the seashells, keeping in mind the rules of composition. Get down low, create some depth of field and shot that shot. Or fill the frame with the unique aspects of the shells. Line them up and use the rule of thirds. Is your beach full of shells? Lay on your stomach and capture the endless “sea” of shells.

#15 Wildflowers

My last summer photography idea for you is wildflowers. Do you have a beautiful garden full of wildflowers? Perhaps a sunflower field nearby? Put yourself in the middle of the field, surround yourself with flowers and start shooting. Your goal as the photographer is to get your viewer to “smell” the flowers through your photo! Play with the angles of the stems, and find some shadows created by the flowers. Remember that you don’t have to be in the field of flowers, capture the wildflowers in a vase at home.

You can focus on one of the 15 summer photography ideas this summer or tackle all 15. Remember, no matter what you decide, have fun, stick with it, shoot with purpose every time, and see what a difference practicing will make in your pictures! And…if you are ready to reach your photography goals even faster, check out The Beginner Photography Essentials Class here and understand ISO, SS, Aperture, WB and more!

Lifestyle Photographer & Mentor

Hi, I’m Dena, a natural light lifestyle photographer with 20+ years of experience capturing other people’s memories and teaching photographers how to understand and easily use their cameras.

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