If your kids are anything like mine, the LOVE water. They love doing any type of activity in or near the water, whether it's jumping, diving, tubing, swimming, paddle boarding, boating, or playing on the dock or beach. The past couple years I've been capturing all this on film, and I've narrowed down my necessities have in my summertime camera bag at all times.
1. 35mm camera & lenses. I use a Canon 1v, but any kind of 35mm camera is great. It's more portable, easy to use, offers more images per roll of film, and gives me many lens choices. Plus if it were to accidentally get splashed on I wouldn't freak out as much as if it was my medium format camera. I usually bring my 35mm, 50mm, and 70-200mm lenses, which afford me the most versatility. (I will leave the 70-200 home if we are walking a lot. It's a beast!)
2. Underwater camera. I LOVE the perspective from shooting right there in the water with your kids! This year I upgraded to the Nikons V, a Nikon 35mm underwater camera and I can't wait to give you a report on how it handles. You can find them relatively cheap on Ebay. If it isn't in your budget this year, spring $8 for an underwater disposable camera, found at any drug store. These images are all taken with a disposable and I love their vibe!
3. Lots of film, duh. :) My top 3 film choices are Ektar, Portra 400, and Kodak BW400CN. Ektar is perfect for those bright sunny days. It's a 100 speed film that packs a lot of color punch, and it screams summertime. If you want something more subdued, read on.
My second favorite is Portra 400, due to its versatility. I can rate it at 400 and be able to take useable photos in full sun, overcast, golden hour, and even at sunset. I've used a lot of Portra 160 and Fuji 400h and they work well during the day, but aren't as versatile in the evenings.
My favorite b/w film last year was Tri-x. It's extremely versatile too. But I didn't like the grain of it as much in 35mm format. (I will be playing with a lot of HP5 this summer.) If you don't want to get a true black and white, go for Kodak BW400CN. It's developed with C-41 (color developer) and looks beautiful, and you expose it just like you expose color film (this is a great option if you don't have a spot meter), and has less grain than Tri-x.
4. Light meter. I use a Sekonic-358 and it works great. I use the meter mostly for very sunny mid-day backlit photos, as I find the in camera meter has the most trouble with this type of lighting.
5. Notepad. I like to experiment with all films in a variety of settings and lighting conditions. If its new or tricky, or I'm rating a film differently, I will still take notes so I can refer back to them and learn something new.
6. Sunscreen and lip balm is a must!
7. Zip-lock bag for your film and phone. I've learned the hard way.
8. I pack all of this in my more rugged Tamarac camera backpack. The padded inside gives me many options for fitting in the gear I choose to bring. The padded straps are comfortable, and all areas zip up securely which helps keep sand or water from ruining anything.
I'm ready! Are you? Now, if only my kids were out of school......
If you have more summertime tips that you've found helpful, please share!