When it comes to lighting a scene, there are several situations and locations that could be challenging to light properly. As a wedding photographer, you do not always have a say in when and where you photograph your couple. While it may be ideal to shoot during the golden hour or on overcast days, what do you do when you must conquer the midday lighting? The abundance of light during the midday can make taking photos at this time quite challenging, leading to inconsistent highlights and shadows on your subjects. The midday sun also makes it incredibly difficult to take advantage of backlighting your subjects. And, the sun can also cause your subject to squint, which interrupts the natural facial expressions and becomes counterproductive for your photos. To help you combat this difficult time of the day to shoot, here are 4 tips for shooting portraits during midday.
Shooting Portraits During Midday
Shooting outdoors when the sun is directly overhead is no doubt challenging and even physically exhausting. And therefore, we suggest you take a look at the tips we shared here and add your own hacks and modify the techniques to see how best you can work your way around the scorching sun and still create those stunning images.
1. Shoot In The Shade
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @wild.trail.studio
Shooting in the shade can be very helpful when it comes to reducing the harsh midday lighting in your images. Find a location where the shade is not too dark but leads to nice, even lighting. Look for trees that your couple can stand under or tall buildings that shield them from the sun. When shooting under trees, be sure that the lighting is still even and there are no patches of strong lighting coming through the branches. This way, you will not have inconsistent lighting on your subjects. When you position your subjects for shooting portraits, place them toward the light. By doing this, you will create a natural glow on their faces, which will illuminate them and help them to stand out from the background. As you are preparing for your shoot, if you think that there may not be some available shade, bring a few props that can help cover your couple from the sun - maybe a cute umbrella that the bride can hold. This could also double as a great prop to create a dynamic silhouette image!
2. Use Off Camera Flash
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While you may have a great quantity of light from the sun, it may not be in the ideal direction for you. Utilizing off camera lighting is an effective way to control the amount of light you want in your image. It is also a great way to eliminate the shadows cast on your couples’ faces during midday shoots.
There are several options to select from when determining the type of off camera flash you want to utilize. Adding one strobe as a light source can be very powerful, and the light from it is strong enough to overpower the sun. This leaves you with complete control over the lighting situation. Speed lights are also useful tools for lighting your images. These are great for adding fill light onto your subject to reduce any unwanted shadows.
3. Keep The Sun Behind Your Subjects
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During your shoot, there may be times when there is no available shade for you to work with. In order to keep your couples from squinting their eyes while shooting portraits, position them so that their backs are towards the sun. This will allow them to hold their natural expressions as well as allow you to block the direct light from the sun. By placing the sun behind them, their faces will be shaded and have an even light cast upon them.
As you shoot with a backlight, you can also use metering on your camera to properly expose your couples. To do this, switch to a mode on your camera such as spot metering. From here, point your camera to the portion of the photo that you want to properly expose, excluding the bright background. This will help you to achieve the overall exposure you intended for the image.
Suggested Read: A Guide To Wedding Photography Camera Settings
4. Use A Reflector
Image Credit: ShootDotEdit Customer @sarafrance
Don’t have a reflector? Here’s a quick tip! There are several surfaces that can help you bounce light and work as a natural reflector. Any light surface makes for an effective reflector. These surfaces can range from white walls, aluminum foil, and even white t-shirts. Just pick up whatever works for you - and drive those shadows away! A reflector is a simple (and inexpensive) way to illuminate your subjects and remove harsh shadows when working with midday lighting. Bouncing the light off of a reflector will help you to create soft, even lighting onto your subjects. If you choose to backlight your subjects, use a reflector to help focus and define your images. This will also allow you to keep more of the background properly exposed since there will be more light on your subjects. As you are working with the reflector, slightly move it around so you can see the effects it has on your image. Just like you can control the lights from a flash, you can choose how much light you want on your subjects with a reflector.
While shooting portraits during the midday may not be ideal, you can still create stunning images that your clients will love. When you know how to use the sunlight to your advantage and properly expose your images, you will not only get dramatic images for your clients but also make your wedding photography post-processing much easier. Try these 4 tips during your next shoot, or let us know about your go-to tip when shooting in harsh lighting in the comments section below!
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