Hot Weather Photography

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By Steve Russell

Is it hot outside? If you believe everything you hear on TV and read online or in the newspapers it’s hotter than ever.

Well, it’s summer and it’s supposed to be hot and when it’s hot you want to stay indoors near the air conditioner and not go outside until September or October. Can’t say as I blame you if you feel this way, but believe it or not you may be missing out on some photography fun. No, I’m not kidding. Here are a few tips for hot weather photography.

Plan and Prepare

I’m not suggesting that you grab your camera and go shooting at 2:00 in the afternoon.

When you’re out with your camera you should always be aware of your surroundings and looking for possible photo opportunities. Still, when it’s really hot outside, you want to be efficient as well. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have in mind what kind of images you want and go to a place where you’re likely to find them.

Dress appropriately

Wear cool clothes and a hat. Yes, I know a hat can be a nuisance when you’re trying to use a camera. If you’re wearing a ball cap you can always turn it backwards when you’re shooting. Or, you can wear the ultimate nerd wide-brimmed hat with a chin strap. That way if it’s in your way you can push it off your head and it’ll stay on your back until you put it back on your head. By the way, I’m not in any way suggesting that the guy in the photo is a nerd; I have 4 or 5 hats that are similar in construction. Well, maybe you would think I was a nerd but I don’t have any photos of me wearing those hats.

Use sun screen. Use sun screen. Use sun screen. There, I think I got that point across. Now here’s why the hat: you don’t want to get sun screen on your camera, lens, etc. If you put sun screen on your face, then when you look through the view finder, you’re going to get sun screen on your camera and sometimes the chemicals in sun screen and insect repellant will melt plastic. Bad outcome. That means you want to clean your hands after applying sun screen as well.

Drink lots of water. I can’t stress enough how important it is to drink plenty of water. Not only does it help protect your body from heat exhaustion and sun stroke, it actually helps you feel cooler.

Tell the story

If you’re purposely taking photos in hot weather then you want the image to tell the story that it’s hot. The rest of the tips and images talk about telling the story.


Animals, especially, dogs can help you tell the story. Because dogs have very few sweat glands, they regulate their body temperature by panting or sticking their tongue out. When I saw this photo of the dog taken on a hot summer day in Austin, TX, I thought the dog was probably thinking, “It’s too hot to play ball. If you want the ball, come and get it. I’m hot and tired.” Well, probably not really but the photo does seem to tell that story.


When it’s really hot, the image of the business man walking down the side walk, tie loosened, collar unbuttoned, suit coat thrown over the shoulder and wiping his forehead with a handkerchief comes to mind. It’s been used in numerous TV commercials over the years. Scenes like this tell the story that’s it’s really hot. Conversely, people trying to get cool also tell the story. It’s easy to capture small children in sidewalk fountains but it’s more fun to find fully clothed adults going for it.


Don’t be afraid to have fun. Often a little silliness can result in some very unexpected results. Good results. This photo is photographic evidence that it’s “hot enough to fry eggs on the sidewalk or street.” Now, I’m convinced that the egg was fried in the kitchen and taken outside as a prop for the photo. I tried it in 100 plus weather as a kid and it doesn’t work. My mother didn’t really appreciate my experimentation either. Still the photo tells the story that it’s really hot outside.


These two images make me want to turn down the thermostat. It looks hot. I’m sure it is hot. You don’t have to have a desert to take photos of a scene that looks like the mercury is bursting out of the top of the thermometer. Use your imagination. It can be fun.

The Beach

We hope our blog is family oriented and young people read it as well. Because of this, I decided to leave out the obligatory beach photos of babes in bikinis and hunks in Speedos. Still, the beach or swimming pool is a great place for hot weather photography. Plus, when you get too hot you can get in the water yourself.

In May 2010 Tiffany wrote an article on hot weather photography that you may want to read as well.

Get your camera and go have some hot weather fun with hot weather photography.

Photo Credits:

Checking the AC by deedoucette on Flickr Creative Commons
Photographer with Hat by seandreilinger on Flickr Creative Commons
Hot Weather Dog by marjorie on Flickr Creative Commons
Refreshing by elessar_82 on Flickr Creative Commons
It’s so hot by katherha on Flickr Creative Commons
Desert Tree by dkeats on Flickr Creative Commons
Camel in Desert by hukalo on Flickr Creative Commons

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