Shooting in full sun: 3 ways to banish shadows shooting portraits outside

Shooting in full sun: 3 ways to banish shadows shooting portraits outside

Are unflattering shadows spoiling your outdoor portrait photography? Here are three simple ways you can rescue your portraits when shooting in full sun.

Shooting in full sun: 3 easy ways to banish shadows shooting portraits outside

Photographers are naturally drawn to shooting on sunny days. Everything appears bright and colourful, and these conditions often seem ideal for cheerful images.

But bright sunlight can create harsh, unflattering shadows and over-exposed hotspots, especially if you are shooting during the middle of the day.

Our before image

Our before image

One way to improve your results is to limit your photography to times when the natural light is more appealing (earlier or later in the day), but this can be restricting and may not always be possible.

Instead, you can try these quick fixes to solve the problem and help bring your people pictures out of the shadows.

Three easy ways to take flattering portraits when shooting in full sun

Three easy ways to take flattering portraits when shooting in full sun: step 1

01 Shoot in the shade
If possible, move your subject into the shade to avoid direct sunlight. Make sure that both the subject and the background are lit similarly to avoid problems with an unbalanced exposure. Deep shade can cause a blue cast, however, so adjust the white balance to compensate for this.

 

Three easy ways to take flattering portraits when shooting in full sun: step 2

02 Use a reflector
Position your subject with their back to the sun so that there is no direct light falling onto their face. This creates an appealing rim-lit effect around the subject, but their face will be under-lit, so use a sliver or white reflector to bounce light back onto your subject’s face.

 

Three easy ways to take flattering portraits when shooting in full sun: step 3

03 Fire some flash
Using a reflector can be awkward without help, so use your flash to do a similar job. With the subject looking away from the sun, light their face with fill-in flash. For a more subtle effect dial in around -2EV of flash compensation and check your results to ensure the flash light isn’t too obvious. Adjust the compensation if necessary.

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