One of the many reasons people choose to live in Colorado is the 325 days of blue skies and sunshine. And that’s a great thing if you enjoy being outdoors like we do.
However photographing in the direct sunlight has its challenges. With a portrait, you can usually schedule it early morning or late evening to capture it in the sweet light. But what about a wedding that takes place in the middle of the afternoon? You can’t postpone a wedding simply because you are looking for better lighting conditions. So you adjust.
1. Use the sun to your advantage. Instead of placing the subject with the bright sunlight behind you – shining into the subject’s eyes and making them squint – play with the placement. If you put the sun at a 45 degree angle, you’ll begin to see dimension in the subject. Or put it behind your subject, and use the sun to create interesting affects.
2. Use reflectors. You can use light reflectors and diffusers to control the light source, bounce highlights back onto the subject, and block out the harshest sunlight from directly overhead.
3. Find the shade. No matter where you are, you can find a shady area to get out of the sun. Look to tuck your subject behind a building, or in a grove of trees. You can still get beautiful lighting, wonderful backgrounds, and less chance you’ll have a squinting subject.
4. Create your own shade. Use props to create a shady place anywhere. From hats to parasols, find something that gives your subject personality.
5. Tell a story. Instead of focusing on the typical portrait with the subject smiling into the camera, look for a different perspective. Maybe walking along the beach, or enjoying a moment alone in a field of flowers. Be creative, and look for something that makes you stand out from the typical photographer.
6. When in doubt, use a flash. If you are taking a portrait where the emphasis is on the face, make sure you have adequate lighting on the face to compensate for the sunlight. While we personally do everything we can to avoid flash, at times it may be your best choice.
7. Try using a different lens. As portrait photographers, its easy to rely on one standard lens again and again. When you’re in a difficult situation, try a variety of things. One of our favorite lenses is a fish eye. Get up close to your subject and blow the background completely out of proportion. You’re subject will love the different perspective, and you can end up with some amazing affects.