Welcome to my blog. On this page you will find articles I personally write about the photography industry and my work. You will also see blogs showing the photos from many of my photo sessions.
If I do have options, I’ll move my subjects to the shade then if necessary add a little light from a strobe or a flash to add some highlights and catch lights in the eyes. If direct sunlight is the only option, there are different ways to approach this. Absent any diffusion, the most essential thing to do is not have the subjects being photographed looking directly in the sun. You will have harsh light on their face and they more than likely will be squinting, and no one wants photos of people squinting. Rather, turn their backs to the sun.
Then the photographer will be looking into the sun, right? Right, but that’s not all bad. Photographers can make some lovely photos pointed at the sun. Just remember to set the exposure for the person’s face rather than the background so you have some light on the face. Often there is enough light from the sun wrapping around to get light on the face. You may need to add some external light to add some light to the face. This is called fill flash because it fills in the shadows on the face so it is illuminated.
Of course, it may seem strange to you to put a flash on the camera when you’re outside in direct sunlight, but I promise you it will make all the difference in the world in your photographs. Everyone has seen pictures of people being shot into the sun where the background looks good but the person’s face is in complete shadow? I think sometimes people don’t even notice, but if you have the photographer’s eye you certainly will. Just remember not to have the flash be too overpowering. Your idea is soft light on the face, not a deer in the headlights look.
Be careful when photographing in direct sunlight with hotspots and unflattering shadows. Hotspots are those bright spots on skin from the sun. Usually you’ll see it on one area of the skin, which shows up as a big ball of light, compared to more normal looking skin right outside the hotspot. If you see this, you may need to move either yourself or the subject to get rid of that bright spot. Shadows can be problematic. You may see shadows on the face from nearby tree branches or leaves, for example. Just watch for this and if necessary move away from the shadows.
One solution I have found that works well is to use a diffuser to block sun rays. Go ahead and try this, using a white shoot-through umbrella. Put the subjects with their faces to the sun and block the sun from their face with this diffuser. It will result in some nice light on the face without the harshness. So, photographing in direct sunlight doesn’t have to be all bad.