The Fourth of July is upon us and with this comes cookouts, family parties, booze, and way too much food. Depending on what your day job is, maybe you have a few days off to enjoy or maybe your grinding through the holiday weekend. Whatever you may be doing this weekend, chances are if you are reading this then you will probably have a camera by your side or at least looking to shoot some photos over the next couple of days. While holidays can be a chance to put down your camera and just relax, they can also be a great opportunity to spend some time shooting what you love or fine tuning your skills. No matter what you are doing this weekend, here are some tips to help you make the best out of your weekend and help improve your photography.
Always Bring Your Camera
How many times have you been walking out the door and thought to yourself, "Should I bring my camera?" Let me answer that for you: Yes! If you are a photographer you should always have a camera with you, in my opinion. Whether it is your iPhone or DSLR, if you want to get better then take more photos. Your job is to creatively capture moments as they unfold. You never know what may happen, where you might end up, or what moment you want to preserve. Maybe a quick creative mobile shot turns into a moment a friend or family member will remember for the rest of their lives. Once they know you are capable of taking a great shot in any circumstance, who do you think they are going to call when they need to hire a photographer?
Bringing your camera to parties is a great way to practice shooting and it is always nice to capture memories of your friends and family. I love to bring my camera to annual Fourth of July parties. While not every shot is a keeper, I have captured some moments that are truly priceless. Bringing your camera to a party is always a great way to network. Don't be afraid to bring a few business cards and hand them out to anyone who shows interest in photography.
Shoot the Fireworks
Shooting fireworks is a great way to experiment with different techniques and still enjoy the night's festivities. You can experiment with shooting long exposures or you can try stacking multiple images to create one photo with multiple fireworks going off. If you're a wedding photographer, why not experiment with sparklers. Sparklers are often used at weddings and if you have never shot them before, they can be a blast to work with. Experiment with creative ways to capture movement using them and fine tune your skills so that when the time comes to shoot them in a wedding environment, you are ready to go. For more advice on shooting fireworks check out Casey Berbers' article "7 Tips for Photographing Fireworks this Fourth of July."
Not everyone is a food photographer, but with parties and BBQ's on the menu there can be some great opportunities to get some practice. Take time and pay attention to decor, colors, and layout. You can combine seasonal themes with the food at your BBQ and set up some beautiful shots. People often go all out with the decorations this time of year and using these props in your photography can set the vibe and create a nice summer party theme.
I'm not sure about your family, but I know that my family sure loves to cook. Whether it is dinner, desert, or appetizers, a tremendous amount of work always goes into preparation. I love to try and capture some of the foodie moments that are in front of me. Food is a huge part of family history as well as an awesome way to keep a visual history to go along with recipes you may want to remember.
Whatever you may be doing this holiday weekend, remember that staying active with your camera is the best way to improve your work. If you've been shooting non-stop for the past three months and need a break, then take it. There is nothing wrong with it. But for a majority of photographers who don't shoot full-time, the festivities of the Fourth of July can be a great time to get some practice in.