For people who are new to photography or are beginning to get started, they rarely bring accessories when shooting portraits outdoors, such as reflectors and exterior lights. Then the main light source is the sun! But taking portrait photos in the sun requires considerable skills. This article is to share how to make good use of the sun to take beautiful portrait photos.


(Tip 1) Watch Out for Light on Your Face

Many students pay attention to the model and background but ignore the important light glaring on the face when shooting outdoor portraits. If you are shooting at noon or in a sunny environment, it will cause a big problem!


(Tip 2) Learn to take Backlit Photos

One useful technique is to use the sun to take backlit photos. Keep in mind that sunlight intensities produce different backlighting effects. So use what you can to take backlight at any given time of day. Because the model does not look directly at the sun, backlit photos can avoid squinting and the effect is more prominent when the sun is warmer! We have articles to share tips on shooting backlighting, check it out!


(Tip 3) Try a Different Angle

When shooting under backlight, you can try to shoot from different angles. Depending on the position of the sun behind the model, the effect will be different! For example, in the following photo, the sunlight is to the left of the subject. If you lean a little further when shooting, the lens will produce a light shift.


(Tip 4) Pay Attention to the Color of Your Clothes

Yes, your clothes! It may sound weird, but why are the photographer’s clothes related to the photos? Under strong sunlight, if you wear colorful clothing the color of the clothes may be reflected on the model’s face, forming strange lighting!

(Tip 5) Use the Model to Block the Sun

When shooting, you can use the model to block the sun and let the light pass through his/her hair. If it is matched with white balance (adjust to a cold white balance to warm the photo) or shoot at sunset, this way it will make the hair shimmering gold.


(Tip 6) Learn How to Take Portrait Photos in Direct Sunlight

Direct sunlight can take good portrait photos. One reason is that you can take the background and model in the photo (the backlight is unavoidable to give up the background).


(Tip 7) Be careful if the Model Squints when Facing the Sun

When you are in direct sunlight, you must be careful that the model will squint. The solution is to not let the model look directly at the sun, or let the model look at the lens just before pressing the shutter!

(Tip 8) Learn to Use Light Differences to Darken the Background

We often avoid light differences when shooting landscape subjects (using a gradient gray filter), but we can arrange the model to stand in the sunlight when shooting portraits or places that are not exposed to sunlight will be darkened, instead, you can make your characters stand out!


(Tip 9) Try to take High-Light Photos with Sunlight

High-light photos are over-exposed photos. Try it when there is sunlight. It may have unexpected results!

(Tip 10) Make Good Use of Soft Sunlight

After seeing backlighting and direct sunlight, when the sun is in the clouds, or during sunrise or sunset, the light becomes very soft, and no shadows will appear on the subject’s face. This makes sure that exposure on the face is correct. Then You can let the model do different poses and expressions to take beautiful portrait photos!


(Reference/Photos by Melinda Smith)


Author: Alex Tam