September is bright, and by bright I mean harsh noon light that will make you feel physically uncomfortable and create unflattering textures on your model’s face. Nobody wants to feel uncreative and sweaty during a photo shoot, which is why we tend to avoid taking photos when August approaches.
Thankfully, there are ways you can make the most of the summer light without jeopardizing your well-deserved comfort zone. When the temperature is just too high but you still want to sharpen your photography skills, shoot in these places.
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When I first moved into a small apartment, I was very discouraged by the lack of space. I couldn’t place my tripod wherever I wanted, take extremely wide shots, or move without bumping into a kitchen table or stubbing my toe. With time, I learned to appreciate these obstacles and use them in my images, especially when it was too hot to take photos outside.
No matter how uninteresting you think your home is, it can be used as a creative location for a shoot. Take the time to observe the things you usually take for granted. Could your curtains create interesting shadows? Could your plant be used as an attractive foreground? Could your chair be used as a simple yet effective prop? By noticing details, you’ll open a new world for ideas for yourself. And it will do nothing but benefit you in countless ways.
For the best results, have your model stand next to a curtained window. The window will soften the harsh August light and give your subject’s skin a soft glow.
(Before you take photos in a public place, make sure you have permission to do so. Uncomfortable confrontations are unnecessary. If your local mall doesn’t support photo shoots, find a smaller store that does.)
Malls are filled with shopping signs, artificial light, space, and most importantly, lots of cool air. This location is ideal for those who want to improve their indoor portrait photography skills. Neon lights will make your photos look surreal, cafe atmospheres will add a touch of warmth to your work, and harsh artificial light will serve as a brilliant backdrop for bokeh-filled silhouettes.
Forests provide lots of shade, cool air, and a chance to photograph nature’s stunning summer colors. Photograph details around you to create diptychs later on. Experiment with shadows made by branches and flowers. Play around with depth of field.
If you’re planning to take self-portraits, use the forest to strengthen several photography skills. Experiment with:
Before you go out, make sure you’re protected. Apply mosquito repellent cream to any exposed areas on your skin, and wear boots that won’t expose you to dangerous insects like ticks. Bring a snack or two (cool forest air tends to make us hungry). When you get to your destination, don’t explore too much or else you’ll get lost.
You might think that unlike a forest, a single tree doesn’t have much to offer. In reality, it can enhance your portraits in many ways. When it’s bright outside, a shade is a perfect location for well-lit portraits. The surrounding light will naturally brighten your subject’s face without highlighting unflattering textures. It will also create clear bokeh that will complement your model’s features and give your composition an entirely new look.
Despite their simplicity, these locations will provide you with a lot of creative opportunities. They’ll teach you to make the most of your surroundings, let you dive into new sub-genres like artificial light, and encourage you to pursue your goals regardless of the weather.
Where do you take photos when the temperature outside is unbearable? Let us know in the comments!