10 Inexpensive tools to make your summer photos shine

The sun is shining. The kids are spending their days outside. The sounds of lawnmowers and ice clinking in your sweet tea fill your ears. Summer is here and the magic of the season begs to be captured in photographs.

However, it can be easy to feel less-than-inspired during those dog days of summer. When vacations and pool concessions stand purchases chip away at your photography budget, investing in expensive gear or fancy props can be out of the question.

Luckily for us, the Clickin Moms Mentor team is here to save the day! Just in time to take full advantage of Amazon Prime Day (July 16!), they are sharing their favorite inexpensive summer props that infuse their photos with that special summer magic and get them inspired to keep clicking.

1. Sprinkler

words and image by Natalie Greenroyd

There’s really not a lot better than a fun photo prop that also gives the appearance of good lawn maintenance, right?!  My boys count down the days until it’s hot enough to pull out the sprinkler so they can run and jump, take a drink, or pretend to be chased by the oscillating streams of water. It’s great for me too, because they are happy to play in one place for an extended period of time giving me plenty of chances to shoot a variety of images.  I love to use my 70-200mm 2.8 to give the appearance of being right in the middle of the action, while still keeping my lens nice and dry.  This way I can zoom in for detail shots and then also capture a little more of the big picture.  If you’re looking for that glorious water bokeh, just make sure you’re using the longest focal length you have or shoot wide open.  We love the sprinkler in the summer, it truly is fun for us all!

2. Bird feeder

words and image by Jessica Nelson

Buying an inexpensive bird feeder is a great way to get some amazing photo ops of the beautiful visitors that live in the world with us, especially in the summer months. I place mine just outside my office window and I often take breaks from working to sit and just watch them come and go, and of course, take their portraits when they allow me to.

Related: 10 things nature photographer Jessica Nelson loves

3. Fresh fruit

image by Lisa Tichané

There is nothing that feels more like summer than a trip to the farmer’s market for some fresh produce. Get creative with your favorite market finds and photograph it! Whether you create a perfectly composed still life, get the details with a macro shot, or let the kids get messy and play with their food, adding fresh fruit to the frame screams summertime joy!

4. Sparklers

words and image by Meg Loeks

Sparklers are one of our favorite Fourth of July traditions. They feel so festive and whether you choose to do a long exposure while your subject writes a word in the air or just let the kids run around and play with them, sparklers add just the perfect touch of magic to summer photos. I love to buy the longer sparklers and have my kiddos point it right at me so that I’m able to capture pretty bokeh. I shoot wide open at 1.4 for better bokeh!

Related: How to photograph fireworks

5. Pool floats

words and image by Kate Luber

How can you not play with a comically oversized unicorn? Everyone is full of smiles when these come out and it’s a great time to capture play and even get in on the fun yourself. Make sure you’re protecting your camera with a rain cover or underwater bag and get in the mix with them. They’ll love splashing water on you and everyone will be soaked and laughing hysterically by the time it’s over.

6. Sunglasses

words and image by Mickie Devries

I love to buy a variety of sunglasses for my children!  I try to pick fun ones that I know will photograph well, and that go well with a variety of clothing/swimwear.  Mirrored ones can be fun for reflections, and for getting into the frame yourself.  They also hide the dreaded raccoon eyes you get with midday sun!

7. Hula hoop

words and image by Kellie Bieser

Anything that gets the kids outside and moving during those super hot summer days is a must-have in my house. Whether they are rolling it back and forth on the driveway, hopping from hoop to hoop in a homemade obstacle course, or shaking their hips like Elvis, my crew is sure to find hours of giggly entertainment with a simple hula hoop. Even better, the colors, geometry, and motion that hula hoops add to a scene are totally begging to be photographed from every angle!

8. Sidewalk chalk

words and image by Kate Luber

Sidewalk chalk is a staple in our house! I love watching my kids create masterpieces on the driveway. There’s also chalk paint: it’s a powder that you mix with water! We have spray chalk paint too…and glitter chalk. And if they’re left with just plain chalk, they’ll mix it with water or bubbles for some colorful, messy, creative fun. It’s hours of entertainment for them, and I walk around and play with all different angles and light. Make sure to capture their works of art when they’re done.

9. Beach ball

words and image by Mickie Devries

One of my favorite Summer props from last year was a giant beach ball! My kids loved it, and it photographs so well with bright blue skies during the day or gorgeous sunsets! I wouldn’t bring it to the beach on a windy day as it’s a little harder to contain than a regular sized beach ball!  We would dig a hole to keep it from rolling down the beach.  I would also deflate it just a bit after each use so I could carry it a little easier. It’s worth the extra effort, though, because it adds the perfect pop of color for pure summer magic.

10. Sun hat

words and image by Kellie Bieser

I love sun hats because they are stylish and functional on those bright summer days when you want to protect your skin from all those glorious rays. In photographs, sun hats not only look fabulous as a fashion statement, but they also create natural framing around your subject’s face to strengthen your composition. The texture of this woven sun hat made the best pattern on my daughter’s skin when the light was filtering through it and as soon as I saw it I knew I needed a photo straight away!

Bonus! Your Clickin Moms Photo Hunt List!

Have you been playing along in the 10th Annual Clickin Moms Photo Hunt?! If not, head over there now and download our list of 75 must-capture things of summer! It’s our favorite way to bottle-up summer and we love getting the whole family in on the fun as we search for items to photograph and share together. You can print the list or keep it handy on your phone so that summer inspiration is always close by!

Of course, the sky is the limit when it comes to photo props that help capture the magic of summer! Share your favorite summertime items with us in the comments below!

About the Author:

From the parent company Click & Company, Clickin Moms has revolutionized the photography industry as the first and largest organization to embrace and serve female photographers of all levels, from hobbyists to professionals.

3 Comments

  1. Family Photography | Rebecca Aug 01 2018 at 2:12 am - Reply

    Greats tips – and just in time for when the warmer months come back!

  2. Sopo Aug 21 2018 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    Yes! Great ideas, dinner hats are my favorite!! Need to bring them out before summer’s over!

  3. Eric Sep 05 2018 at 4:24 am - Reply

    I’ve used a few of them this summer, the one I really like is the sparkler! Great Blog. Thanks!

Leave A Comment

Follow this blog