Summer is a time for being outside, having fun, and finding adventure. As a mom of twins, I’m constantly looking for ways to keep my kids active and happy during these months home from school. As a photographer, I’m constantly looking for activities that will be fun for them but also great opportunities for me to capture a little of that childhood wonder.
It’s so easy to get caught in the trap of spending exorbitant sums of money to visit the latest and greatest amusement park or, even more so, a five-star vacation. But, the reality is, most families today simply can’t afford those luxuries. And, the reality is, we don’t need those things to make little magic. The best part of summer is being able to get outside and explore what’s right around us. This is especially true if you live in a place like I do, that is cold 7 months out of the year!
This summer, it’s been my focus with my kids, to find adventure right in our own backyard. When capturing photos of my kids (or my clients’ kids), the single best piece of advice I can offer is to just let them be. But, the real Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo happens when I can capture moments with what’s right around us…when my/your/our kids are just being kids.
Allow them time to explore their backyard treehouse…Let them get dirty…Let them enjoy the sunshine. Here, my son explicitly ignored my request that he leave the dirt on the ground and the toys indoors. But, you know what? He was right. It was way more fun to mix all three together! And, I ended up with one of my two favorite images so far this summer!
My daughter is an odd mix of fairy princess and bug investigator. Every time she comes at me with a night crawler, I go running. But, when she wants to have a “magical glitter fight”? Heck yes! This was one of those days when she wanted to be a fairy princess but declared that all fairies need pixie dust! I mean, what fairy worth her salt doesn’t have fairy dust?!
If you’re lucky enough to have a pool (or some body of water in your backyard) then you have hit the jackpot, my friends! We’re incredibly lucky that we do have access to such a summer staple, and we take advantage of it almost every day. (Confession: my underwater camera & housing have seen more action recently than my big camera). But, you don’t need a fancy camera or expensive underwater housing in order to capture the fun and adventure that a day spent in water will bring. There are plenty of good underwater point & shoots on the market today that make water photography accessible to virtually everyone!
When you’ve toweled off and just need a little diversion on dry land, pretend play is a great way to have a little fun at home. My son asked to have a zoo safari outside, so we broke out their animal masks (which were, admittedly, a splurge) and headed out after dinner. I was the zookeeper and the kids were, very fittingly, the animals. I’m not normally one for props in photos, but I do love to use the things my kids love in order to capture the magic of their personalities! And, Wyatt LOVES his yellow giraffe mask…
Let’s face it, sometimes oldies are goodies for a reason. Who doesn’t love bubbles?!?! I will say that I got tired of constantly blowing bubbles and then my husband got irritated when I kept asking him to blow bubbles so I could get a few shots of the kids. (No bubble-blowing whilst holding the big camera) So, the simple bubble machine I bought this spring was quite possibly the very best $15 I ever spent! My kids are endlessly entertained; my hands are freed up, and then sometimes I get an image like this! While it’s not particularly new, this image is one of my very favorites. Adventures and magic don’t always have to involve something new. Sometimes it’s as simple as a backyard bubble chase with a favorite stuffed friend to spark the fun.
This summer has been one of change for our backyard. We transitioned from toddler toys to the real big kid treehouse & swing set seen in the first photograph. My kids are incredibly lucky to have grandparents who spoil them with these things. This particular sandbox was one of the things that we removed to make room for the new swing set, and this is one of my last images of the kids and their ever-present sidekick playing in it. Adventure brought to you by sand. Here, they started looking for pirate treasure and ended with making “cakes” for the tea party. Childhood is all about make believe…and make believe is magical. And, if you’re able to incorporate the favorite family pet into the mix? Gold!
So, this summer, get outside and enjoy your own backyard! There’s magic and adventure to be found everywhere, no matter how simple or small. You just have to look for it!