- The Luminous Portrait: Capture the Beauty of Natural Light for Glowing, Flattering Photographs
- Professional Secrets for Natural Light Photography
- Direction & Quality of Light: Your Key to Better Portrait Photography Anywhere
Lighting conditions can have a powerful impact on a photo shoot and ultimately on the final results. Everyone knows that when shooting outdoor portraits, it's best to do it in the early hours of a day, or just before the sun sets. That's when the light is soft and flattering and the shadows are a lot gentler. But every now and then, you might have to take outdoor portraits at noon, when the light is dreadful and you don't even feel like taking out your camera. Whether it's a client or an opportunity you're not going to come across in the near future, you have to be at the top of your game and deliver great results.
The best way to deal with harsh sunlight in portrait photography is to get away from it as much as possible. Find a spot with some shade and have your subject pose for you there. It's your only chance of getting a softer light in those bad hours. Use a longer focal length to separate them from the background.
But what can you do if there is simply no shade available anywhere around you? In that case it's time to get a little help. The first thing you can do is use a standard reflector for filling those horrible shadows on your model's face. You will however need an extra pair of hands to operate it. Also, make sure you tell the person handling the reflector to use it subtly because you don't want to case anymore harsh light on the model's face.
The second option is fill flash. You can use the external flash mounted on your camera or have it placed on a light stand for more creative lighting. Whatever the case, make sure you leave the flash bare, with no modifiers on it. The sunlight is harsh, you want your flash light to be the same to balance things. So all is not wasted if the conditions aren't optimum. Challenge yourself and go shooting in broad daylight a few times following this advice.
Here are a few more tips from photographer Brent Mail.