Photographing the Seasons: Spring/Summer Photography Cues

Back in September, I posted a series of winter photography cues, musing about embracing each season for what it is. One thing that I am really passionate about in my photography is capturing the seasons, seeking out the best bits and making the most of the worst bits. During the colder half of the year, that means using adverse weather conditions to my advantage, and in summer it means finding ways to work with an onslaught of bold colour and bright light. I always struggle a bit with my camera at the beginning of summer, mainly because I hesitate in sharing all the vibrant hues that nature presents us with on my usually tonal Instagram feed. Pinks and yellows and purples all distract me from my usual rusts and greens, throwing me visually.

Yet I really love watching and capturing the changing seasons. I’m in my element when I’m outdoors, photographing nature, and this time of year is just bursting with inspiration. I can barely leave my house without spotting a bush bursting with flowers or a hazy horizon that I want to capture. I’m learning to embrace the harsh light on cloudless days and use the sunshine to my advantage. For these photos, shot in a rapeseed field that I’ve had my eye on for weeks, I recruited my boyfriend to help me. I set my ISO at 100 and my shutter speed as high as my camera allows, and positioned him with his back to the sun. I reduced the brightness on Lightroom and added a filter to soften the glare. I usually shy away from harsh afternoon sunlight, and these are possibly my first ever set of photos taken in these conditions that I’m truly happy with.

One thing I think I often forget when taking photos, is that photography doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’. You can break the rules and play around with different ideas. This is true all year round, yet during summer I tend to forget this and overthink the pictures I’m taking. This year, I’m going to try to let go and be more creative, and already have plenty of ideas floating around my head.

If you’re struggling to adapt to photographing the new season, I’ve shared a few photography tips and cues below. Let me know if you end up using any of them!

Spring/Summer photography cues

  • Find a field of flowers. Look for rapeseed, poppies, sunflowers, lavender or a meadow filled with a variety of colourful wildflowers. Try shooting at different angles, with a shallow depth of field or from more unusual perspectives than just straight on. If you are placing yourself or a model in among the flowers, take care not to tread on any (for these photos, I found a small gap in the flowers and took care not to stand on any).

  • Embrace the sunshine. Unless you’re looking to create a lens flare around your subject, try to shoot with the sun behind you. Look for shadows and highlights and use them to your advantage. If you want to create that soft halo effect, shoot into the sun late in the day, positioning your subject so they are covering most of the light with just a glow emitting around them.

  • Focus on your favourite parts of summer. Dining outdoors, bare legs, wild swimming, growing your own vegetables, walking in the hills - whatever you enjoy, capture it.

  • Remember that summer can still be moody. You don’t have to drastically change your style of photography, if you prefer dark and moody shots. Seek out the shadows, or get up close to capture the smaller details.

  • If you’re worried about bright sunlight, shoot first thing in the morning or during golden hour in the evening to capture the best, most flattering light.

  • Get into the water. Try wading, floating or submerging yourself in water. Take a Go Pro on holiday with you and capture an underwater world, or stay on dry land and take photos of how the light bounces off the water.