Summer party tips and inspiration with Gray Malin

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Our partner Gray Malin’s sun-dappled photos and party optimism have given us reason to celebrate—so we thought to ask him how he keeps the party going all summer long.



You’ve documented a lot of summertime celebrating: planned and spontaneous. What draws you to those scenes, and what do you think is special about a summer party?

Summer is definitely my favorite season! Warm weather incentivizes people to get outside and enjoy the surroundings, which means organized backyard parties, spontaneous trips to a local park or beach, and lots of weekend getaways. I love capturing these moments for people to enjoy year-round, especially in the colder months when we long for summer.


What’s a tip you’d give to amateur shooters so that they can capture summer just as vividly on their smartphones?

The quality of smartphone cameras these days is so great—everyone’s a pro now! To make your shots a little more relatable, try adding a foreground to your shots. For example, if you’re taking a picture of the sunset, try holding out your hand with something fun in it… like a cocktail, or an ice cream cone. This adds a personal touch and sense of relatability to the image for others to enjoy.

How do you plan well for a fun day in the sun? (Don’t worry about supplies, we’ll ask you about those next!)

I think it’s all about maximizing your time, so if transportation and parking are going to be a big concern, then figure out a plan well in advance to minimize any unnecessary stress. I also love bringing along fun and more frivolous items like a People magazine, a frisbee, or an Instagram-worthy floaty for the pool.

Any special sunglasses?

I actually love sunglasses and I have quite a few on rotation, especially in the summer. My favorite style is a classic aviator, but when I am feeling fancy I’ll slide on my designer Wayfarers.



I’m a fan of Kate Somerville’s Daily Deflector. It’s SPF 50+ but feels light enough to wear all day, every day.


Equipment for your camera?

For a day of relaxing in the sun, I tend to keep it simple and just use my phone’s camera. Nothing crazy.



Favorite drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) and snacks?

I love a crisp glass of rosé​, with or without bubbles… I’m not too particular. Then, it’s always important to keep plenty of water on hand. For snacks, I love having chips and salsa as well as fresh fruit on hand. I honestly could eat chips and salsa every day for the rest of my life!



Summer’s made for beach days and barbecues, but what’s a summer party you loved that’s off the beaten path?

I grew up spending summers at my grandparent’s vacation home off Lake Michigan. It’s definitely a bit off the beaten path but still one of my most favorite places in the world. Each summer growing up, we would take our grill down to the beach and the whole family would have a sunset beach barbeque over an open fire.


We love watching all the crowds of people at play in your photos. When have you entertained a big group, and what’s a tip, recipe, or idea that pleases a crowd?

One tip I have is to hire someone to tend bar, so you can spend more time enjoying your guests rather than being stuck in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, or even a professional (pay a friend or younger family member, if you’ve got one), just a friendly face to pour some wine and mix up simple cocktails.


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All this talk has us in a sunny disposition. Start planning something for the longer days ahead with Gray Malin’s invitations.

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Images courtesy of Gray Malin.