Taking Photos in Full Sun? This might seem like a daunting task, but it is still possible to create beautiful portraits by following a few simple strategies. After receiving many positive comments on this topic from our Orange County Dream Big Workshop attendees, we asked Susan Keller to share those same photography tips with you.
I’m not too proud to admit that when I discovered I Heart Faces’ Dream Big Workshop in Orange County was scheduled for 1pm, I had a mild heart attack.
Ok, not really.
But, nearly. 😉
Because, let’s admit it: shooting in full sun is NOT a photographer’s dream. Shooting in full sun in the middle of summer when the sun is highest in the sky (not lower on the horizon as in winter) is REALLY NOT ideal light for flattering photography. I needed a strategy!! I Heart Faces jam-packs a lot of wonderful portfolio building practice & teaching into a quick afternoon. I needed to know where we would be shooting before we all arrived that day. So my family and I jumped in the car to scope out the workshop site at midday. What I was specifically looking to find was … S.H.A.D.E.
What we found was a whole lot of not-shade.
3 Strategies for Shooting in Full Sun
1. Look for shade.
We found exactly two small locations with shade. And we used them both at the workshop!
Shade spot #1 was a little nook in the sandy cliffs next to the path down to the beach.
You can see below, from the first photo of the girls, that the shade spot was quite tiny. Tiny, but effective. It removed the bright sun from their faces and kept them from needing to squint. Yay for shade.
The only other significant shade I found on the beach existed underneath the lifeguard stand.
And we used that spot of shade for both our girls’ session and our family session:
2. If you can’t find shade, make some.
We had the girls hold boogie boards over their heads, and we set up an umbrella for our family session.
3. Turn your subject away from the sun.
Turn your subject away from the sun, as much as possible. When utilizing this strategy, you will likely need to brighten your exposure to compensate for the “backlight” effect. (For a fuller discussion on how to expose for bright backgrounds, revisit this tutorial.)
While I don’t necessarily encourage you all to run out and shoot sessions in the middle of the day, I do want to encourage you that midday shooting is possible and you can make it work beautifully with a little bit of planning.
P.s. I know you can also overcome full sun obstacles with use of flash and reflectors, but those are not within my personal arsenal of tricks, so I’ll leave that tutorial to someone else ;-).
Susan Keller is an Orange County, California baby, child & family photographer. Subscribe to her blog or follow her on Facebook for tips, specials and client sneak peeks.