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5 Tips for Photographing in Harsh Midday Sunlight


You may have a favorite time of day to do an outdoor photo shoot, but sometimes you might not have the luxury of picking the perfect time and lighting conditions. Here’s a 4-minute video from photographer¬†Kayleigh June¬†that details a number of ways you can cope with harsh light from a midday sun.

“This is not always an easy nor desired thing for photographers to do, but sometimes we just need to push through!” June says. “As much as we would all love to shoot at golden hour for every photo shoot, there’s not always an opportunity to do so, unfortunately.”

Here’s a quick rundown of the tips she shares:

#1. Keep the Lighting Even

Uneven lighting causes harsh contrast and shadows, particularly in the face. Instead, try and line up the model so that the shadows are only minimal and can be easily sorted in post.

#2. Use a Reflector

Reflectors allow you to “retain that natural look” by filling in the darker parts of the image. June finds they work best in backlit conditions.

#3. Create Your Own Shade

Using different objects to create your own shade, such as a reflector, can be a good way to create even lighting in your portrait shots.

#4. Underexpose and Shoot in Raw

June prefers to underexpose her shots a little bit, preventing the highlights from blowing out during the harsh light conditions.

#5. Count the Model In

Bright light can stop models from opening their eyes fully and using normal facial expressions. If you provide a “1, 2, 3” count, your model can open their eyes at the exact moment and avoid squinting in the light.

Watch June’s video above for example photos and behind-the-scenes clips of a midday shoot that illustrate her tips.

(via Kayleigh June via ISO 1200)