Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

June 24, 2010

Stories Of Summer : Capturing Summer With Photos By Kelly Willette

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The longer days, the lack of schedules and the warmer weather of summer work together to create the perfect combination for catching up on photos of your kids. Photographing is a daily activity in our home during these long, lazy days. I’d love to share some summer photo tips to help you document your summer days.


Sometimes with a photo, it is all about the angle. By lowering your body position, your photo can tell an entirely new story. Getting down low is especially beneficial when photographing at a pool…by squatting down and being on the same level as your subject, you are able to block out any unwanted subjects from your photo.

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For stopping the action during summer sports and moving kids, be sure to keep your camera’s shutter speed up. Also, make sure your camera is in burst or continuous shooting mode. This will enable you to capture every move and not miss the pivotal shot.

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Use your zoom lens or a wide angled lens to capture the entire scene around you. This will truly capture the scale of the world around your child and will help preserve the memory of where you were. So I encourage you to vary your lens length. Take some wide angle (zoomed out) shots and some up close (zoomed in) shots.

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I recommend using your camera’s matrix or evaluative metering mode when capture skies. Matrix or evaluative metering mode meters for the entire scene your camera captures, which ensures that both your subject AND the sky are properly exposed. Perfect for capturing those beautiful summer skies.

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And if you find that by capturing the entire scene that the background is too busy (full of color that detracts from your child), there is no shame in converting your photo to black and white. Sometimes a black and white will change the entire look and mood of your photo.


The extra light summer brings creates a few photography challenges. One of which is the harsh shadows you can get with full sun when the sun is high in the sky. You can tackle this problem a couple of different ways. One, you can move your subject into full shade. Or, if this isn’t an option (due to a sporting event, being at the beach, etc.), you can use what is called fill flash. I usually preach to my students NOT to use the flash, but this is an instance when you’ll be glad that you did use it. Fill flash lessens the harsh shadows and evens out the lighting on your subject’s face.

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Be sure to take advantage of the longer days and glorious sunsets of summer by attempting to capture a silhouette of your child against the sunset. To do this, wait until the sun is really low in the sky, usually about an hour or half hour before sunset is ideal), then have you child just play, dance, or jump. You need to have your camera in manual mode for this to work. Meter (spot or partial meter) off of your child. My settings for this photo were: aperture 2.8 (I wanted the background to be a bit blurry for my shot), shutter speed of 1/4000 (a fast shutter speed enabled me to blacken out my child but still allowed the sky to be properly exposed), and an ISO of 100.


Rainy days and lazy days in the house are some of the best moments to capture your child in his or her glory. I like to swoop in and snag a shot while my son is playing independently. With him not knowing that I’m photographing him, the photos are natural and real. Be sure to catch your children deep in play on the next rainy day – without them being aware of the camera.

When photographing indoors, I recommend turning OFF your flash. In order to compensate for the lack of flash light, you may need to increase your camera’s ISO or decrease your aperture/f-stop to allow as much light as you can into the lens.

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Don’t forget the small details. Get in close to capture summer. Some of the best summer shots are ones which are tightly framed and creatively cropped.

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What are some quintessential summer details that you’d like to capture? I have a list of “100 summer photo ideas” on my blog that you may find useful as you brainstorm how to best capture your summer.


ABOUT KELLY : Kelly McMahon Willette is a photographer based in Ghent, Norfolk ,Virginia, and she helps other moms with cameras and photographers with her business products and workshops geared towards them. Her products include a series of seven posing guides, her business workshops, and her newest product, the photographer’s marketing calendar. Her blogsite contains weekly free downloads and photo tips. She makes a mean beef stew, can still remember/sing all the words to the Beastie Boys’ “Paul Revere” and has learned to do most things with one hand since having her second baby this year. You can find her work and products at


  • 1.
    dawn said…

    These are beautiful photos. I love the beach ones. Thank you for sharing all these tips and photos for us. I’m heading off to your blog for the list of 100.

  • 2.
    Christy said…

    I’m in awe. Your children are beautiful- I’m an amateur photographer still stuck on auto. You give me hope.

  • 3.
    Haley D. said…

    Your photos are amazing! Thanks for the great tips. Now I’m off to check out your blog.

  • 4.
    MichelleK said…

    wow, thanks for sharing

  • 5.
    Candace said…

    Thank you for sharing this amazing photographer! I checked out Kelly’s blog and instantly bookmarked it. She has such beautiful examples of baby and child photography…I might have to get one of her posing guides soon! Thanks Ali!

  • 6.
    Monika Wright said…

    This is a post I will read many times. Now, off to your blog to learn more!

  • 7.
    Margaret said…

    ali, u might be interested in this:

  • 8.
    Lee Currie said…

    Kelly is fabulous, I’ve learned so much from her over the past year and her e-book is filled with fun stuff! Love her :)

  • 9.
    Suzie said…

    Wonderful tips. Thank you so much. I’m not a great photographer, and I think these tips will help me become better and make me want to take more pictures.

  • 10.
    annette said…

    love the photo tips and photos. Thanks for sharing

  • 11.

    What great tips. Definitely inspiring. What I find the hardest are the action shots and getting them nice and sharp. I tend to forget to use burst mode, so thanks for the reminder.

  • 12.
    tania smith said…

    Excellent point about changing the feel of a photo by switching it to black & white. Sometimes the photos are just better all around when you convert them. you really zero in on your son’s expression with that photo being B&W. Thank you for sharing such wonderful tips!

  • 13.
    kimberly said…

    Thank you for all these wonderful tips, I will be trying out a sunset silhouette tonight!

  • 14.
    clarisseteagen said…

    I love this blogpost. All the photographs look so perfect. :D
    You’re a really good photographer. nice one going on. . .

  • 15.

    I’ve been looking for the best travel blogs in the net and your list will truly help me find the best spots for my travels. It really captured my interest. I love the pictures, the places and lot more..Keep it up!

  • 16.
    {vicki} said…

    I definately want to take some silhouettes!!!!!!!

  • 17.
    Kasi said…

    I’m a little late reading this post, but this was AWESOME advice. I went to her blog and printed that list of 100 ideas. Fun! I found an old unused and dusty candy jar today that I put in the garage sale box, but I think I’ll repurpose it as the activity jar for the summer!

  • 18.
    HeyJude! said…

    Wow! Wow, wow!!!! Thank you so much. Found you by following a link from UK Scrappers. I am so spending the weekend with my camera. Brilliant, awesome ideas. Thank you so much. And beautiful children. Jude.x

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