Photo Shoot Ideas to Try This Summer

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Ludmila Borosova
Ludmila Borosova

If you’re a natural light photographer, you’re probably shooting outside for most of the year. If you’re counting down the days until summer and you’re looking forward to the warm evenings, then you should think about adding a few of these photoshoot ideas to your must-shoot list for the summer. Personally, I like taking photos in every season because each of them has its own magic! But what’s so specific about summer photography?

Today, we’ll cover:

  • Why it’s great to have summer pictures
  • Ten summer photoshoot ideas you should try
  • The challenges to keep in mind when photographing in the summer

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Clients Love Summer

For many photographers, summer is the busiest season! And no wonder – it’s the most comfortable for our clients. They can plan fun outfits, they don’t have to freeze outside in a beautiful dress, and they can be photographed in the warm, late evenings with stunning light. It’s much easier to get a great photo when the subject you’re photographing is in a relaxed, good mood!

If you’re looking to get more clients this summer, you should start preparing now. As soon as it gets warm outside, take your camera out and start working on expanding your portfolio with photographs you never did before. Your clients want to see how their photos will turn out if they book you, and they love when they can choose from some creative sets. Here are a few stunning summer photography ideas that you need to try to get contacted by your dream client.

As soon as it gets warm outside, take your camera out and start working on expanding your portfolio with photographs you never did before.

Afternoon Picnics

Picnic photos can be really appealing! It evokes a sense of relaxation and warmth. The nice aesthetics make it popular content for social media among influencers and bloggers, so anyone who feels like they want to have similar photos is going to love the idea! Prepare lots of yummy and colorful food as props and a blanket. Plus, extra points if you have a wooden picnic basket. Your photoshoot can begin!

Flowy Dress

Some clients specifically shop for flowy dresses made out of lightweight materials such as chiffon, silk, satin, or cotton! If you’re going for some boho and romantic vibes, it’s good to look for neutral or white colors, but if you are trying to enhance the main subject, don’t be afraid to make your model wear something more colorful like yellow or red. The main advantage of the dress is the movement it creates in the photos! It’s so fun and adds a little extra spark to the photos.

Spring Flowers

Flowers are associated with romance, beauty, and summer! Visit your local flower shop and get a beautiful spring bouquet. If the store looks cute, you can also ask the owner if you can get some photos of your model inside the shop! But you can also just visit the local flower field if you are on a budget. Flowers are an ideal prop because you can hold them in various ways, they add a little bit of extra color and you don’t have to think about how to pose the hands. It’s a win-win!

Farmers Markets

Almost every big town has its variation of a farmer’s market. Sometimes they are in the town square, next to the river, or in a park. Each one of these has a special atmosphere to capture with so much colorful produce, cute decorations, and unique stands. You can ask your model to browse through the shops and the poses will seem way more natural. That’s why it’s a great place for storytelling and lifestyle photography.

Vintage Theme

Everyone loves the vintage theme! And it’s not only about cute dresses – it’s about the atmosphere, too. Take photos of the model in the local antique shop, second-hand store, or quirky cafés. If you’re looking for something more special, you can also rent a vintage car and match it with the dress. This type of photoshoot turns out even better when you apply grainy and film colors in the post-processing.

Colorful Themes

One of the most viral trends of 2023 is taking photos and videos in the “Wes Anderson” style! Great attention to detail and colors makes it quirky and nostalgic. Don’t forget the main factors: colorful palette (often matching the outfit with nearby buildings), symmetrical framing (subjects are often centered in the frame or the overall vibe is very pleasing to the eye), storytelling (for example, holding an object and about to create an action), and retro vibes.

Getting Fruity

Fruit is such a cool and vibrant summer prop! Choose fresh and brightly colored fruits such as oranges, lemons, cherries, or pomegranates. Your model can hold a banana, cover their eyes with slices of lemon, use the cherries as earrings, eat a fresh apple… or even wear a fruity dress. Don’t forget to enhance the main colors a little bit to make the fruit pop!

Floral Hairstyles

Another creative way to incorporate flowers into your portrait photoshoot is to create floral hairstyles! It looks so cute when you choose flowers that are currently in season. Select flowers with sturdy stems and large blooms that can be woven or placed into the hairstyle without wilting. Experiment with different hairstyles that can showcase the flowers, such as braids, updos, or loose waves. You can also lay your models down and just place the flowers around the hair! Use hair accessories such as clips, pins, and ribbons to help secure the flowers in place and add a touch of elegance to the overall look.

Golden Hour Field

This is probably the most favorite summer location, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t creatively do these photos! Even though you see these photos everywhere, you should still consider having some in your portfolio because it’s a classic that many clients are still looking for. The golden hour is the time of day just before sunset or after sunrise when the sun is low in the sky, creating a warm and soft glow behind your subject. Plan your shoot accordingly to make the most of this lighting! Usually, it’s around 4-5 hours before the time of sunset or sunrise, which you can comfortably find online and plan ahead.

Vacation Vibes

Are you going on a vacation, or do you just happen to have a pool in the neighborhood? Either way, try creating photos that look just like you’re somewhere on a summer vacation! This can include the seaside, the pool, inflatable flamingos, ice cream, palm trees, or anything else that reminds you of the hot summer vacations. Your photos should make others feel like they want to hop on a plane to a different destination!

But Don’t Forget

Summer photography can also come with a few challenges. They are normal, so don’t be discouraged! Oftentimes, people want summer photos but they don’t fully realize that they also have a few flaws. How can you easily fix these?

  • Damaged makeup in the heat – It doesn’t look too good if the subject’s makeup is sweating off the face. It can create shiny areas on the face or even start getting runny. You can either recommend wearing a lighter coverage, or you can use a fixation spray! Bring a setting powder in your bag to use when on your photo shoot.
  • Harsh sunlight – Strong sunlight isn’t the most flattering for your portrait photos, as it creates very tough shadows. As mentioned previously, the golden hour is the best time to plan your photoshoots in! This is especially true when you are just starting and are unsure how to work in different light conditions.

Strong sunlight isn't the most flattering for your portrait photos, as it creates very tough shadows.

  • Squinting – Models love summer but hate the summer light! Sometimes it’s so uncomfortable to look in the sun. Make sure that you bring cute sunglasses for a few photos. But that’s not the only trick; You can also put the sun behind your subject or take a few photos with their eyes closed, which makes the photo more dreamy.
  • Improperly exposed photos – The strong summer sun can also make it tough to correctly expose a photo. That’s why you need to make sure there are absolutely no washed-out spots! When taking a photo with your DSLR or a mirrorless camera, you can usually change the settings in a way that’s showing you all of the overexposed spots. If they are too bright, they are hard or impossible to save so always make sure nothing is showing as improperly exposed. Also, shoot RAW instead of JPG to help edit the light!

Most importantly, have a lot of fun doing the photos! It will be visible on your final results. Make sure that your subject radiates positive vibes, that the setting is colorful, and that you are, in a way, telling the story of someone else’s summer. And remember, when you start working on the photos as soon as possible, you will have many radiant images to add to your portfolio by the start of this summer!

Recommended Reading: If you’d like to learn how to create amazing portraits, grab a copy of Photzy’s premium guide: The Art of Portrait Photography.

Self-Check Quiz:

  1. What is one of the busiest seasons for a photographer?
  2. Why do clients love summer photos?
  3. Name at least five summer photoshoot ideas.
  4. What elements do a lot of summer photoshoots have in common?
  5. What kind of dresses would you recommend your clients to wear?
  6. How can you incorporate flowers into your photoshoot?
  7. What is the Wes Anderson trend of photos?
  8. How can you use fruit in your portrait session?
  9. How can you make your photos look like you’re on vacation?
  10. What are some of the common flaws of summer photos?
Learning Assignment:
  • Write down three photoshoot ideas that you want to start working on. Why did you choose these? How would you rate their difficulty? What kind of props will you need? Write as much information as you can to each of your ideas.
  • Are you going on a vacation in the upcoming months? If the answer is yes, research your location such as the most photographed spots that you can find online. Create a map of the spots and start planning your props and outfits! You can dedicate just two hours and do magical photos of you or your friend or a family member. If you’re not going on vacation, plan a similar photoshoot in your town. You can for sure find a flower field, swimming pool, or a cool ice cream stand. Trust me, you will love the results!

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