Ask most outdoor photographers what their favorite time of day to shoot is, and I almost guarantee you that they’ll say golden hour. You that pristine time while the sun is setting and everything looks so glamorous and vibrant? It’s the light that everyone waits for to get professional photos done.
Ask most outdoor photographers what their least favorite time of day to shoot is, and hands down most will say it’s that unforgiving mid-day sun. It’s time of the day that is exactly that--in the middle of the day. The light is often so bright, right above your head and for most people this light is the most unflattering. As photographers, we aim to bring beauty in everyone, not the unflattering. At least not in portrait photography.
But what about those times when shooting in the middle of day is unavoidable like a big event, wedding or when the scenery is the best during this time and you just want to get those epic shots and the only time to get these epic shots is literally in the middle of the day? It’s inevitable.
Now, as photography clients, this is also really important to keep reading as this next part will not only teach you HOW to photograph in the bright midday sun, but it will also help your photographer photograph you best during this time. So don’t skip out!
Let’s get into it!
1. GET IN THE SHADE.
The easiest way to work around getting nice flattering light while taking photos (or getting photographed in) is by getting in the shade. It can be the surface of the sun outside, but when you step completely in a shaded area, all the light is evenly spread across your subjects’ face (or your face--if you’re the one being photographed).
Side note: When you’re working under spotty light (say, under a tree or mesh fencing, beware of your shadows. More on this another time.)
2. GET THE SUN BEHIND YOU.
Sometimes it’s unavoidable with zero shade in sight. What do we do then?
When panicking is not an option, you want to get your subject (or you -- if you’re getting photographed) to stand facing the opposite of the sun.
This will do a couple of things:
3. GO FULL FRONTAL.
It’s 100% not what you think. I promise! Haha!
If this is the route you want to take, you’re going to want to have your subject stand completely facing the sun. (If you haven’t noticed, the midday sun is kinda like all or nothing! So commit!)
Going this route will shed so much light on your subjects, so carefully position yourself as the photographer in a spot where you’re not getting your own shadow over your subjects.
4. USE A DIFFUSER.
Think of a diffuser as something to let light in without overpowering the space or subject. If you’re just starting out as a photographer, you can actually achieve THE SAME LOOK by using a simple white bed sheet. (I call it being ghetto fabulous, my friends.) If you can spare some cash, getting a diffuser to carry around while doing photos can be a game changer by allowing light to pour over your subjects face or body, but without making it too harsh.
It’s almost like creating your own block of shade that you can control the opacity. Cool, right?
5. GET ARTISTIC.
You know how in #2 when I said to get the sun behind you? You can do the same thing here, and get some wild sun flares when you shoot in the direction of the sun. When that sun beam hits your lens its flare-magic! Just beware of too much sun flare. Those can kinda be a nightmare to edit in post production.
So we go! If you made it this far, and you’re not a photographer, I commend you! So next time you’re out on a shoot during the middle of the day, think of these tips on how to get position yourself in respect to the sun.