When it comes to lighting, there are several situations and locations that can be challenging to know how to properly light. In our complimentary guide to lighting for wedding photography, we share 26 key tips from Roberto Valenzuela to help you identify and use light during your shoots.

As a wedding photographer, you do not always have a choice as to when the photos are taken. While it may be ideal to shoot during golden hour or on overcast days, what do you do when you must conquer the mid-day lighting?

The abundance of light during the mid-day can make taking photos at this time challenging, leading to inconsistent highlights and shadows on your subjects. Mid-day 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 natural facial expressions and becomes counter-productive for your photos. To help combat this difficult time of day to shoot, here are 4 tips for shooting portraits in the mid-day.

1. Shoot in the Shade

Shooting in the shade can be very helpful when it comes to reducing the harsh mid-day lighting in your images. Find a location where the shade is not too dark with 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 not patches of strong lighting coming through the branches. This way, you will not have inconsistent lighting on your subjects.

When you position your subjects, 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.

Quick Tip

As you are preparing for your shoot, if you think that there may not be any 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 can also double as a great prop to create a dynamic silhouette image!

2. Use Off-Camera Flash

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 casted shadows on your couples’ faces in the mid-day.

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

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, position them so that their backs are towards the sun. This will allow them to keep their natural expressions, as well as 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.

4. Use a Reflector

A reflector is a simple (and inexpensive) way to illuminate your subjects and remove harsh shadows when working with mid-day lighting. Bouncing the light off of a reflector will help to create a 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 that it is having 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.

Quick Tip

Even if you do not have a reflector, there are several surfaces that can help to 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!

While shooting portraits during the mid-day 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, it will make your wedding photography post-processing much easier. Try these 4 tips during your next shoot, or let us know your go-to tip when shooting in harsh lighting in the comments!


During every shoot, there are various scenarios that require off-camera flash to solve a lighting issue or to help you develop dramatic images. How can you control and create light with off-camera flash in any location, regardless of the scenario? Our Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Wedding Photographer Guide, created in conjunction with SLR Lounge, walks through simple off-camera flash setups, the reasons why they work, and how you can quickly use them to transform a location. Download it today!

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