Summer used to be, by far, my least favorite season. Spring, Fall, Winter; these seasons held all of the drama for me and when they would come around, I got excited creatively. Now, however, I’ve found a new love for Summer. Exploring the world during the long, hot days, is markedly easier than the other months. You have more time, the weather is often calmer for longer spans of time, and if you know what you are looking for you can usually find it thriving during this 3 month period. Outdoor photography is no exception. While Autumn usually holds the feast of colors, Summer is the King of Green. This actually gives photographers a great backdrop for portraits. The natural range of human skin tones falls in the yellows, tans, and brown range of the color spectrum – very analogous to Fall colors. And while Autumn portraits are always stunning, Summer’s lush green backdrop can give you an opportunity to have your subject pop out from the scenery. Next time you have a session booked for the Summer, don’t fret, embrace the shady cool color palette of a forest, or the bright, painterly spats of color that a field of wildflowers offers. They will make your subject leap out of the photo.

What if it’s too hot for portraits? Well, that’s why we have studios. But, some of your best landscape photos are waiting for you when it’s hot outside. For instance, I recently went to Cuyahoga Valley National Park, one of my favorite places for both portraits and landscape photos, and I went on a very hot day: 95 degrees! Yes, it was baking, but I went prepared with water and breathable clothes, and by the time I got there I was greeted with a nearly empty park. The Virginia Kendall Ledges (also known as just The Ledges), which is usually chock full of people, had at best 3 other folks there in addition to myself.

I was so well prepared for the heat that even my dog was able to accompany me without ever overheating. But, back to my point: Because there was no one there it meant I had time to explore any photo I wanted without reams of humans milling through my shots. It was beyond rewarding. It also made me feel that much closer to nature. The only time I got knocked back to reality is when I walked up behind people gossiping about people at work (yuck!). But, I was able to quickly walk around them and within a few minutes, I was all on my own again.

Don’t be afraid to explore your local area during a Summer heatwave, either. If you live in an older town, as I do, there may be a few abandoned areas that you can take advantage of. I am not advocating breaking into an abandoned building, but rather these old, forgotten structures can make an amazing backdrop for portraits or even urban landscape photos.

Lastly, there is no shortage of outdoor festivals, celebrations, and activities during the Summer. This is prime time for these types of things. Go to google and search for a local calendar of events for your area and plan a few trips for you and your camera. Go do things you might never do and enjoy the things you love!

Benjamin Lehman is a commercial photographer in the Canton, Cleveland, Akron, and North East Area of Ohio.