15 Fantastic Summer Photography Ideas For Happy Sunny Shots

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summer photography ideas

Summer Photography Ideas

The summer season is here! The ideal time to try out new things and get creative. I compiled a list of summer photography ideas because we all know sometimes we need a little inspiration to get started.

Just a tiny nudge that will get your creative juices flowing. So consider this list as a starting point, and feel free to take it from there!

You won’t find the obvious summer photography tips like landscape photography or travel photography.

You can do these summer photography ideas wherever you are. Whether you’re traveling or just staying home. 

It’s a list of summer photography ideas that will help you capture the feeling of a carefree summer, so you can still experience the summer vibes inside you through your photos when the summer months are over.

So, collect those summer moments now, sprinkle them over the walls in your home, and savor them when the days are getting longer again.

Sunny Vibes

We’re gonna start this list of summer photography ideas with images inspired by the leading lady of summer – the sun!

#1 Photograph The Sunset

The sunset is one of the most beautiful spectacles mother nature has to offer us in any season, but the sunset in summer is magical. 

Of course, you can photograph a setting sun when you happen to be at the right place at the right time, but it certainly pays off to prepare for your sunset summer photo shoot. 

Go here to find out how to photograph a stunning sunset.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Sunset over Florence Italy

#2 Create A Sunburst

Photographing straight into the sun is always a bit of a challenge, even for the most seasoned photographers. Your camera gets confused by all the light flooding the lens. The trick is to underexpose. 

When you want to create a sunburst – the star-shaped form of the sun in a photo – you need to close your aperture a lot. Think of an aperture setting of f11 or smaller. Obscuring the sun slightly behind a tree, for instance, will also help.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Sunburst in a palm tree, Tavira, Portugal

#3 Shoot Silhouettes

A dark silhouette against a bright sky gives an immediate summer vibe. The golden hour is the perfect time to photograph silhouettes. 

Pay attention to your camera settings. As with any shot straight into the sun, you need to underexpose. Make sure the silhouette consists of a clear form. Humans and trees create good silhouettes.

Check out this beginner photography resource to discover more about shooting in Program Mode. 

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Silhouette of 2 people looking at each other, Jardim Do Mar, Madeira, Portugal

#4 Chase Shadows

The sun creates the most awesome shadows. And chasing shadows is a great way to spend an afternoon.

It’s best to wait until the sun gets lower, so the shadows have a life of their own.

Of course, you can photograph shadows in the middle of a sunny day, but because the sun is at its highest point, the shadows are less interesting.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: the shadow of a tree on a wall, Lisbon, Portugal

#5 Water Reflections

The sun loves to play with water. The tiny light specks she creates on the surface of the water are a super interesting and ever-changing subject to photograph.

Pay attention to your shutter speed when you photograph water. A fast shutter speed results in crisp water shots.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Grass and water, Floiras, France

Flavors of Summer

Summer comes with its own flavors. We eat and drink differently when temperatures are up. 

#6 Summer Picnic 

One of my favorite things to do in summer is to pack a basket full of delicious summer food and go to the beach or to the park and have a picnic. Bonus points if it’s a barbecue picnic at the beach. 

Whenever you’re planning one of those, don’t forget to bring your camera and capture this cheerful summer feeling. It is the perfect summer photography opportunity.

If you like food photography, pay attention to the different colors and forms of the food. How does it stand out against the background? 

More into portrait photography? Try to capture the genuine emotions of the people you’re with by shooting candidly.

Check out Candid Photography Tips to discover how to photograph people.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: A girl having a barbecue at the beach, Crete, Greece

#7 Ice Cream

There is no rule against eating ice cream in winter, but somehow it’s less attractive when it’s cold. For me, eating ice cream is connected to summer and the first ice cream of the year is a joyous occasion.

You can get super close to the ice cream to let it fill your frame.

But you can also photograph a portrait of your bestie eating ice cream.

Another fun idea is to get yourself a pretty, colorful ice cream, hold it in front of you and photograph your hand holding the ice cream against a summery background. 

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Close up of chocolate ice cream, Sicily, Italy

#8 Summer Fruit 

Who doesn’t love watermelon on a hot summer day? Summer fruit is tasty, often colorful, and very photogenic. 

You can slice open the summer fruit and photograph its often weirdly beautiful insides nicely laid out on a plate. But you can also ask someone to hold a piece of fruit and photograph it like that.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Someone holding out a piece of fruit, Jardim do Mar, Madeira, Portugal

#9 Cool Down

Drinking enough water is essential in summer to keep hydrated. But a lovely glass of white wine filled with ice cubes also does the trick. 

Get super close to your favorite summer drink and try to capture the water droplets emerging on the outside of the glass. This enhances the cooling vibe of the drink.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: A glass of chilled white wine against the town of Tavira, Portugal

Summer Feeling

Summer comes with its own feeling. It’s the time to unwind and appreciate life.

#10 Feet In The Water

I’m a big fan of foot selfies. I enjoy the idea of my feet being firmly connected to the earth. It’s a way to express my gratitude for gravity! 

The summer take on this is to photograph your summer feet in the water. Or in the sand. Or in the grass. Doesn’t really matter, as long as it’s your bare feet.

Photographing my summer feet is one of my favorite summer photography ideas.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Feet in the water, Lac de Lacanau, France

#11 On The Road

Summer entices us to travel more. The feeling of being on the road is connected to summer for a lot of people. It’s also the perfect opportunity to photograph. 

Try to capture the outside world and the inside world in one image. Adding strong leading lines will create a forward-moving, dynamic feeling in the photo. 

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Driving through Cape Verde

#12 Your Shadow

This may seem like a super simple summer photography idea but it’s a lot of fun to chase your own shadow. 

Make use of the sunlight at the end of the day to create nice long shadows. Pay attention to the shape you and perhaps your companion create. 

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Shadow of 2 people walking a dirt road, Lac de Lacanau, France

Nature Vibe

Summer is the perfect time to connect to nature. Nature does wonderful things for us and it’s good to visit nature regularly. 

#13 Color Explosion

We can find nature everywhere. We don’t need to go to a forest to connect to nature. Especially in summer nature explodes in more urban environments as well. 

Go look for the color explosions of a blooming tree or a colorful flower in your own neighborhood.

Looking for more color inspiration? Check out The Magic of Color.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: Blooming Jacaranda, Lisbon, Portugal

#14 Look Up

So often we just look in front of us when we’re walking in nature. But it pays off to stand still for a moment and look up. You’ll discover it’s beautiful up there.

Trees are awesome when you photograph them like this. Try to get close to the tree and incorporate the trunk of the tree and the branches with the leaves further up. 

Like shooting in nature? Check out these Mindful Photography Tips.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: A tree in Monsanto, Lisbon, Portugal

#15  Shoot From The Hip

Shooting from the hip is not necessarily confined to photographing in nature – or summer – but it’s wonderful to try out in nature during summer.

It is also the perfect summer photography idea to get your creative juices flowing. Shooting from the hip is basically photographing without looking through the viewfinder. There’s an element of luck and serendipity in play that makes it super fun. You will be surprised by the results!

Try to refrain from looking at your LCD screen after every shot. Give yourself the chance to get in the flow without constantly judging your output!

Intentional Camera Movement is another creative photography idea that leaves a lot to chance. Check out Embrace the Blur to find out more.

summer photography ideas | Copyright Karin van Mierlo, Photography Playground. Photo: A large pebble on a deserted, wet beach, Vila Nova de Milfontes, Portugal

This brings us to the end of our list of summer photography ideas. I hope you enjoyed it and came up with some ideas of your own.

Which one are you gonna try first? Let us know in the comments!

Tried one of the summer photography ideas? Share it on Instagram and mention @photography_playground.

Hi, I’m Karin

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