11 Tips For You (And Your Kids) To Take The Best Summer Photos

Summer vacation means kids running around and burning off some steam, and it also means a chance for you to grab your camera and get some pictures. From sprinklers to face painting, from amusement parks to swimming pools, summer is a great time to take unique photos of your kids.

It doesn’t matter what kind of camera you have, you can take stellar shots with a DSLR or a smartphone, you just need to know how to use it properly. I asked two moms/photographers for tips for you (and your kids) on how to take the best summer photos.

Wendy Rombough is a photographer specializing in babies and children, has 2 of her own, and knows what to look for to get a great shot.

Shannon Hilton is a mother of 3, family photographer, and also runs summer camps where she teaches kids how to use a camera. Camera camp! I love this idea. Many families have a designated photographer that never ends up in any of the pictures, with the kids as a secondary shooter, you have an entirely fresh perspective on summer!My boys are only 6 and 3, but I still hand them an old iPhone whenever we go on vacation and encourage them to take pictures of what they see.

  • 11 Tips For The Best Photos 1 of 12
    How To Take The BEST Summer Photos

    These aren't just tips for summer, they're good all year long. If you love to take pictures, check these out to get some worth framing!

  • Let Kids Be Kids 2 of 12
    kids-be-kids

    Wendy encourages parents to get reactions from the kids, don't pose them. If you want a big smile, have them goof off and make funny faces, then capture them laughing at themselves. 
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Get Down To Their Level 3 of 12
    level

    Wendy wants you to bend your knees and put your lens on the same plane as their face. They'll be more comfortable (you may not be) when you're on their level instead of shooting down, and the perspective is perfect.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Zoom Your Body Not Your Lens 4 of 12
    zoom-body

    Wendy reminds us that our body can move a lot faster than your camera can, so follow the kids around and don't worry so much how you frame the pictures, you can always tighten up or crop a shot afterwards.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Turn Off The Flash 5 of 12
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    Wendy says if you love the way things look when you're using your eyes, adding the flash will just wash things out. Instead of using the flash, bump up the ISO on your camera.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • The Rule Of Thirds 6 of 12
    thirds

    Both Shannon and Wendy are staunch preachers of this cardinal rule of photography. When you're managing your pictures afterwards, leave room in the frame for the subject to lead the shot. The rule of three divides the frame into thirds horizontally, and vertically. Try and get the main part of the image on one of the cross points.
    "Use the rule of thirds and common sense to crop your images," says Wendy. "For instance if your subject is looking to one side leave them room to look into, or if they're walking to one direction leave some space in the image in that direction for them to walk into."
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Cropping 7 of 12
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    Shannon has another warning for you when you go in to whatever editor it is you like to use for post photo touch-ups. "Don't chop off limbs!" she warns. If you need to crop a photo, don't cut a person at the joints i.e. mid forearm is better than elbow for a crop point. 
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Angles 8 of 12
    angles

    Shannon encourages her students to get a variety of angles when taking photos. Get close up, get far away, shoot up, shoot down. Fill the frame with your photo.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Backgrounds 9 of 12
    backrgound

    Make sure you're aware of the background your photograph has. Make sure the subject has the proper contrast so they don't disappear into the background of your image.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Vary Your Subjects 10 of 12
    vary

    Take pictures of people, take pictures of things. Shannon says you can take pictures of people AND things. She wants her students to try and tell a story with their images. You want your photos to not only answer, "Where was it?" but also, "Who was there?"
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Point of Interest 11 of 12
    point-of-interest

    Whether it's a person or a place, Shannon emphasizes that photographs need a visual point of interest. She teaches her children to identify what this point of interest is, before hitting the shutter.
    Image via iStockPhoto

  • Practice! 12 of 12
    practice

    It's digital, so take lots of pictures. Shannon says the delete button is your friend, this isn't the old days of photography where each roll was $20 to develop. Take as many pictures as you can, fill the card, and then do it again tomorrow.
    Image via iStockPhoto

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