Beat the Heat! 3 Tips for a Successful Summer Portrait Session

Summer is the BEST!  Well except for the bugs… and the insane heat… and the hair frizz?…. and the humidity…?  Let’s be honest, summer looks like an amazing time to take pictures, and it is!  You may have a little more free time, your kids aren’t in school, you can get great outdoor images with flowers and lush greens in the background, PLUS your outfits can be a little more freeing and fun!  While all this is true, there is one big downer that can turn any summer portrait session to the dirt… the heat.  More specifically, the humidity which is just killer for us in below the Mason Dixon Line.  So what can you do to have a great summer portrait session that will beat the heat and feel amazing!  Keep reading!  I’ve got three big planning tips that are necessary to survive your summer portrait session (especially if you have kids). 

When it’s hot and humid and you’re like me than you may be sweaty, frizzy, uncomfortable and overwhelmed.  Add in some kiddos that may be feeling the same way and things can spiral down pretty quickly.  With a little planning ahead of time though your session will not only go smoothly but will be a lot of fun!  So here are my three tips for surviving the heat and having a successful summer portrait session.

Tip #1: Timing is EVERYTHING

And by timing I really mean the time of day.  Because of how hot it gets in the summer and the humidity, you’ll want to schedule your session at very specific times of the day.  It’s going to be best to schedule your session either really early in the morning or right before sunset.  Now keep in mind, these are the best times for pictures almost 100% of the time.  So this really isn’t anything specific for summer except that the sun will warm up really fast.  If you choose the morning, consider waking up and getting ready when it’s barely bright out and get rocking right away.  When I took Anne and Morgan’s pictures we met up at 8am and the light was gorgeous.  We took pictures until almost 10am.  Sterling and I stayed down by the river and thought we would walk around but almost instantly after the session ended, it was BLAZIN’ hot.  So hot that we couldn’t really stand being outside and went to get breakfast instead (a perfect alternative).  My point is, go early, really early.  Meeting at 8am was awesome but in the future I’d probably suggest even earlier!

But what about in the evening?  Another GREAT option!  In the afternoons, the heat of the day starts wearing off and the light gets softer and softer and softer until it slowly drifts away.  The greatest time to get images at this time of day is the hour to two hours before sunset.  The light will be warm and soft, and it will be much much cooler!  Plus, unlike the morning where it’s getting hotter and more humid, the effects will be better as it gets later in the session!

The key for picking is your family dynamic.  You know your kids best and you know when they are at their best and what they can handle.  If they are best in the morning and get cranky if they don’t keep their evening dinner and bed routine than go for the early morning time!  If your kids are hard to get moving (like me) in the morning or older and a little more flexible with evening routines than go for the evening session.

Tip #2: Plan your outfits in advance

For your summer session, you’ll want to be comfortable FIRST and cute second.  If you’re looking in your closet and you see the cutest top but it tends to make you sweat in weird places (let’s keep it real), then maybe skip that top and go for another one that is cute and keeps you cool.  Consider looser, flowey clothes that don’t cling and make you sweat.  You could also consider choosing light colors since they stay cooler in the sun.  I would avoid dark clothes like black since it absorbs the light and will heat you up super fast!  This goes for your kids too – remember if they are uncomfortable, they will not want to take pictures, and they definitely won’t smile in that cute way you absolutely love.  If you aren’t sure how you’ll feel in the outfit, try it out!  Take it for a spin on a summer evening and see how you feel in it.  Do you feel confident, gorgeous, and like you want to see yourself in that outfit years from now?  Then it sounds just right!  It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to make you feel good.  If you feel good than all of that positive energy will radiate through the images.

Tip #3: Think outside the box and play!

You know what the best part about summer is?  PLAYING OUTSIDE!  It’s finally warm enough to go swimming, catch fireflies, run through the sprinkler, go to the beach, jump in a river, run barefoot, and just play.  So go ahead and do it!  All of it!  For your photo session, obviously you want the images of your kids dressed and looking precious in that cute candid family photo where everyone is laughing at each other and loving it.  BUT, wouldn’t it also be great to capture what your kids look like when they are just as they are?  Little, barefoot, giggling, playing?  My last tip for your summer session is to spend some time playing.  Definitely spend the first part of the session getting the more formal images, but why not invite your photographer to your backyard, set up the sprinkler and let your kids play at the end of the session?  It adds a nice treat for kids if they know they get to do something fun at the end plus you’ll get some really fun images of your kids, just being kids!  You could fill up a baby pool, play in a creek, set up a slip and slide, or hit the playground!

Whatever you do for your session, it’s bound to go great as long as you have a positive attitude.  I’ve taken images in the HOT HOT summer when everyone should be miserable.  But because everyone, starting with the parents had a positive attitude, the sessions went really well and the images still looked gorgeous!  Remember, you could have the best weather conditions with the perfect light and everyone could be dressed perfectly, but with a negative attitude the session will be bound to go badly.  Keep an eye out for another blog post on how to turn around a session heading south and what you can do to boost up the energy.  Until then, just remember, with some early planning and a positive attitude, you’re bound to have an amazing session!

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One thought on “Beat the Heat! 3 Tips for a Successful Summer Portrait Session

  1. Hi,
    Loved this article especially point about 3 Tips for a Successful Summer Portrait Session
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