Photography Tips: How To Take Great photos In Harsh Sun

Photography In Harsh Sun Is No Fun!

I had a dream the other night and I was back at the beginning of my career in photography and I was faced with something I used to struggle with when taking Photo’s.  I’m sure all of you have taken a picture with half the face in the sun and the other half covered in shade. You take the picture and only see half the person… What do you do?

Well here are some photography tips to help you next time you are faced with this ugly situation.  There are a few ways to tackle this . I have my favorite but sometimes use a few of these in combination with each other depending on the situation.

First of all you want to avoid this half light if you can unless you are in a creative mood and want that look in your Photography.  Move your subject to an area where the light falls even on their face. No sunny patches.

I personally don’t like putting people facing the sun as it tend to make them squint and can be hard on their eyes.  So I like to have the sun behind them. It leaves a  nice light on their hair which can really add to a Portrait.

Now this would be similar to taking a picture of a person in front of a window. A tough situation right?  Not really with a little know how.  You can handle this two ways.

  1. Pop up your flash to fill the shaded face with light.
  2. Use a reflector to bounce the light back on the face.

A reflector does not have to be fancy it can be as simple as a piece of sturdy paper like card stock. Be sure it’s white. The bigger the reflector the better the bounced light back onto the subject.

Try it out. Always look at the light your given by the sun and make it work to your advantage. Now you are ready to have fun in the sun with your Photography!



  1. Bonny on October 13, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    Miranda…I just want to say I love all the tips that you sent me…very helpful! I have a question about the” photos in harsh light and sun”…if I were to use a reflector, where would you place it? Suppose I take a photo out in the sun and the sun is directly behind my subject…where would you place the reflector? Maybe the sun would be at 2 o’ do you know where to move the reflector to?

    • Miranda on October 14, 2011 at 1:05 am

      Hi Bonny, Glad you are enjoying the tips.

      So use you reflector in front of the subject but slightly off to the opposite side of where the sun is I believe it would be around 7 o’clock if the sun was around 2. You will be able to see how the light falls on the subjects face as reflectors make a wonderful difference. The light may be stronger on one side and just softly lighting the other side of the face but the ambient light will help fill in the other side.

      You could use two reflectors one as a main light source and the other to fill in the other side , but it’s not necessary.

      Be sure not to have your reflector full force on the subject as it’s nicer to feather the light a bit and fill in with the softer light that comes off the edges of the reflector. You will be able to tell if it’s to strong as the subjects will be squinting really bad. Lift the reflector a bit and catch the light coming off the edges of the reflector it’s called feathering and it’s softer. I may do a video on this later to help explain it better. But reflectors are a great tool to carry. I use mine so much I’m almost due for a new one. I hope that helped a bit:)

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