You’ve probably heard it a hundred times—don’t shoot in the middle of the day in full sun. Well, sometimes you just can’t schedule a shoot around the clock (or the weather). That’s okay, you can shoot in the middle of the day and get great pictures. It’s just a lot harder. If you love a good challenge or just can’t plan your shots for the end of the day, read on—these five videos are about to make your day. Here are five tricks to shooting outdoor portraits in harsh, midday sun.

Trick 1: Use a reflector

photography Reflectors do exactly what their name implies they do—reflect light. The great thing about reflectors is that you’re bouncing back the same bright light that is causing the harsh shadows, so that you can even out the contrasty light in your scene. There’s a lot you can do with this simple and relatively inexpensive photography tool. The video above shows you five.

Trick 2: Treat the sun as a hair light when shooting outdoor portraits

Having the light right behind your subject will make their hair just glow—but it also makes their face dark. There are a few ways to combat this underexposed portrait, however; meaning it is feasible to use the sun as a hair light. Add in some fill flash and you are well on your way to a well-lit portrait (Pssst, reflectors can help do the same thing).

Trick 3: Impress everyone with fluffy clouds and a bright blue sky

If you only shoot on overcast days, you’re missing out on a chance for a pretty spectacular backdrop—a bright blue sky with puffy white clouds. If you don’t expose for the sky, however, you’ll lose the detail and the sky will looked washed out. But if you expose for the sky, your subject will likely end up looking like a silhouette. The solution is simple—add in a little fill flash, and you get the best of both worlds.

Trick 4: Prioritize light over location

As photographers it’s easy to base a shot on what looks cool in the background, but since your job title implies you know how to write with light, you should be putting the best light as a priority over the best location. This photographer explains why, and what to look for as the “best light.”

Trick 5: When all else fails, bring out the photo editors

It is easier to get the shot right before you press the shutter release than to have to go back and fix everything in post processing. But sometimes, that’s just not an option. If you’re shooting outdoor portraits at an outdoor wedding, you can’t exactly tell the bride and groom to move because the lighting is bad. Often changing your position will help, but if you’re going to miss the moment by moving, shoot now and edit later. The video above shows how to edit a harshly lit photo and the before and after results are really quite impressive.

Lighting is a priority for photographers, but sometimes waiting for that perfect, soft lighting just isn’t an option. In those scenarios, you can make your own light with the right position and a reflector or flash—and when all else fails, tweak in post processing.

What about you? What’s your favorite way to battle harsh sunlight?

  • Adam

    Not high noon. Shadow has a nice angle to it to make it back light/hair line.