My buddy, Alisa, called the other night to talk about photos she took of the golf team her favorite son plays on. Forced to photograph the group midday in direct sunlight, she wasn’t totally thrilled with the outcome — while they were good, she wanted better. In some of her images, dudes with hats had shadows covering their faces, and there were a few others where blonde heads were blown out from the sun at their backs.
I admit I was impressed that she took shots with the sun in different positions, proving she actually noticed what her final product was likely to be. (Oftentimes we get so focused on our subjects, we don’t always look objectively at our composition, or even notice that turned-up collar or unintended hair spike.)
There are three relatively simple ways to get better photos when shooting on a sunny day:
- Move to the shade. Pick a spot where your subjects are not in the dark and have a nice even light filtering to them. Avoid dappled light under trees (no one wants dark spots on THEIR face… right?). Nice even coverage is key.
- Use fill flash. Using fill flash will often darken your background, create catchlight in the eyes of your subject, and allow you to shoot with the sun behind your subject.
- Use a reflector. Any white (or light) surface can act as a reflector of light. Hold it at the right angle and you can bounce in that extra light you need to “fix” those challenging shadows created by bright sun.
None of the above three options were available to Alisa. So I talked to her a little about metering and white balance, but she shoots in automatic mode and the next day was her last chance. Nothing left to do but hope like crazy the skies would be overcast. And… they were! Since I am partial to candid photos, I had to share my favorite.
Alisa did it like a boss and earned a spot on her resume as a guest photographer on whatifitdid.com. She’d already been featured here? Oh well…