Fall and spring are often considered the popular “photo seasons” where I live and I would assume in most places as well.

This is for obvious reasons including nice weather and the beautiful colors of flowers and fall leaves making for easy, natural backdrops.

Summer seems to get a bad rep though. Especially if you live in “Hotlanta” where summers reach temperatures up to the 100s and aren’t just hot, but humid too, resulting in a lot of sweating, or as us southern gals prefer to call it,  “glistening.”

Regardless, summer has always been a personal favorite season of mine, and as a photographer, I love getting to capture exactly why that is with my own children.  So, because many of my clients are on vacation or want to avoid sweaty outdoor portraits, I often find a little extra time to do so.  The majority of the pictures that I have of my own children tend to be taken during the summer and include exactly what I loved about my own childhood…getting outside and getting messy!

The nice thing about photographing my own kids is that I don’t have to schedule a certain time and hope they are willing. If we are having an evening where we are all cheerful, no sibling drama, and just in overall good spirits, it typically leads to me saying “Oh my goodness you guys are looking so cute, let’s take it outside on the sidewalk!” And this happens a lot because like most moms, I think everything my own children are doing is photo-worthy…of course!

However, here’s my personal rule for these – I take them as they are. If my daughter has thrown on a funny combination of outfits or they are wearing pajamas with messy, unkempt hair, we just go as-is. This is what I strive to capture most – the part that is uniquely THEM.  I don’t have a big yard, so we make our little sidewalk work while simultaneously preserving memories of the neighborhood in which they are growing up. These moments aren’t predictable and are definitely selected by the moods we are all in rather than the time of day.

two kids dressed up like Ninja Turtles by Lisa Rappa

Which brings me to my next favorite thing about summer…

Summer evenings!

There isn’t school the next day, so letting the kids stay up a little later for some golden hour fun happens frequently.  Please take advantage of this time if you can. The lighting is beautiful and the heat is a bit more bearable too.
For these we just head to an open field and essentially just let it go: playing games (barefoot, b/c it’s hot enough for that!), blowing bubbles, picking flowers, throwing beach balls, silly string, you name it.  The magic of childhood is easily found while embracing the joy of the late summer evenings.

bubble floating in the air by Lisa Rappa

And who says summer has to be all outside? The later evenings also allows more time that we still have gorgeous light coming in through the windows. I love capturing those pre-bedtime moments with the ability to use natural light, which is often impossible with the earlier sunset times later in the year.

kids laughing in their pajamas by Lisa Rappa

What about midday light and the hottest time of the day? If I have a session I typically try to shoot early mornings or later evening because midday light is a bit more challenging for flattering portraits and it’s much hotter as well. If I do need to shoot sessions midday, I look for open shade to avoid harsh shadows and heat. I also recommend making the most of the heat too though and will often let the kids (with their parent’s permission of course) jump in some water, play in a splash fountain etc. It creates exciting, casual, but memorable photos and also gives the kids something to look forward to throughout the session.

child holding a blue butterfly net by Lisa Rappa

My own kids and I love finding ways to cool off during the day though and this leads to lighthearted photo ops.  The pool being an obvious one can also be tricky.  I often have to keep my aperture more narrow and can go very low with my ISO when it’s bright and sunny out, but I always try to keep an extra high shutter speed to freeze the jumping and water splashing.  Pools can cause some color casting and reflections, but the water can be great for bouncing light and enhancing backlit shots as well.  Underwater shots are not something I have attempted yet, but I do hope to try some this summer!

3 kids jumping in the swimming pool by Lisa Rappa

Other ways I keep the kids cool and smiling for photos is with sprinklers, eating watermelon or ice cream (who doesn’t look happy with ice cream?), playing in creeks, and you can’t beat a rainy summer day with rain boots!

kids playing with a water hose by Lisa Rappa

The messier, the better is my theory and I actually wish even more of my clients would request these authentic childhood moments in their sessions.  Kids rarely feel as free and energized as they seem to in the summer, and the emotion and spirit is readily available so don’t put those cameras away because of a little sweat…get outside, go on a bug hunt, get dirty, and capture some amazing memories!