5 photo tips for your summer snapshots

We’re happy to introduce guest blogger Beryl Young, a photographer and mom who is teaching a photography e-course, Radiate, launching this June 2012.

As a mom to an extremely busy and active 20 month old I know how tricky it can be to capture that perfect portrait of your kiddos outdoors in sunshine doing the things they love to do best. With summer breaks and family vacations right around the corner I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I always keep handy when it comes time for capturing those important family moments and memories.

  1. Have a Plan. For best results, I make sure to have a location, time of day, and ”smile-maker” plan in mind BEFORE I start shooting (more on my “smile-maker” strategy later). Also, I need to know WHO is in the shot. If I’m in the picture, I’ll need a timer and a tripod at the ready. Or sometimes I host a photo playdate where we can take turns taking photos of each other.
  1. Happy kids = Happy camera. I shoot at my kids’ happiest times of day to get the most natural smiles. Bribes can work wonders too. I have offered trips to a favorite ice cream shops, later bedtimes, extra TV, whatever it takes! Remind them of that special activity while you are taking the pictures.
  1. Be creative with your ”smile-maker” plan – The smile maker is my collection of props and scenery that serve as a backdrop and entertain my child star. I like to use this time to work my creative magic!! I have so many fun ideas: Set up a lemonade stand in your front yard and capture photos of your little girl serving refreshments to all her friends; light a bonfire outside in the fire-pit before dark and take a photos of everyone toasting marshmallows and making s’mores; take a trip to the pool and capture your little one dipping his or her toes in the water for the very first time. For more inspiration, I like to browse pinterest.com and find unexpected ideas to style an activity. Once the plan is in motion, the kids are having so much fun playing that getting them to give a smile or two for the camera is a breeze.
  1. Turn off the flash and find the light – Spending the day indoors chilling in the AC to beat the heat is no way to capture bright summery images. The pop-up flash on the camera often leaves kids looking ghostly and washed out. If I’m stuck inside, I enlist kids to help you find the room where natural light is best. Look for sunlight streaming in and use those places to your advantage. The best times of day for outdoor photos will be early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the sun isn’t directly overhead (and when it isn’t terribly sweltering either!). Before you click, check their faces and make sure you don’t see any hard sun or shadows.
  1. Know when to call it quits – When the kids start throwing a tantrum or are getting bored and running you ragged it’s time to call it a day. Remember there’s always tomorrow if something doesn’t quite go as anticipated.
  1. Have Fun!


If you’re looking for more tips, tricks, inspiration, and worksheets for planning your summer photo taking adventures I encourage you snag a copy of my Momtographer Tips and Tricks Guide or any of my other freebies available HERE. Happy snapping!

Guest blogger, Beryl Ayn Young, serves as chief photography muse over on her personal blog and serves as teacher of photography courses aimed at nourishing the mind, body, and soul. She believes feeding the spirit with lifelong learning, photographic healing, & a glass half full perspective. Beryl leads classes and offers mentoring aimed at teaching you how to improve your camera skills and cherish life’s journey. Come discover how photography + self exploration + editing techniques = a radiant new YOU during her upcoming photography e-course, Radiate, launching this June 2012.

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.