Tutorial Tuesday | Tips for Shooting in Direct Sunlight

Welcome to Tutorial Tuesday! Ashley of Ramblings and Photos and I will be bringing you a new challenge every week, to stretch your shooting and editing skills.

This week we have the lovely Rebecca from Bumbles & Light. I just LOVE her photos and her blog. This week she is giving some tips on shooting in direct sunlight, which is perfect since Summer is almost here. Here is a little bit about Rebecca. If you haven’t checked out her blog make sure you click over. You will be inspired.

I am a 26 year old British stay at home mother to a four year old boy. Married to a Veteran of the U.S. Army who, since his separation from the Army in early 2011, is now at college completing a degree in Communications, PR and Advertising. We currently live in Chicago after 3 years of living in Germany.

 Shooting in Direct Sunlight

Sadly, not all of the fun things in life or the memories we want to capture happen during the gentle, soft light of overcast days or during those beautiful hours before sunset. Life goes on at all hours of the day.

On those gorgeous bright days during the summer, you most likely wont want to schedule a formal portrait session when the sun is bright and high in the sky, but you still want to be able to photograph your kids at play. Sometimes it’s possible to move into open shade or to create your own shade, if you’re prepared then you can also perhaps use a reflector or fill flash where needed. If your subject is in bright light, you’re just shooting casually and you still want to capture the moment, there are a few things you can do to make the best of it.

Have your subject’s back to the sun

If your subjects are facing the sun, they’re going to squint in the bright light and if the sun is high in the sky you’re likely to get some unflattering, harsh shadows. Have your subject face their back to the sun, or stand at a 3/4 angle with most of their back facing the sun. Move yourself around to find the best angle to shoot from, change your usual perspective if you need to.


In these sorts of conditions I usually use spot metering, choosing the main subject to meter off of. Don’t worry so much if you have some clipped highlights, you will lose some detail but that is almost inevitable in an uncontrolled shoot of this nature, just go with it.

Use shadows to your advantage

Sometimes on bright days, the shadows can add a little bit of fun to an image. Pay attention to where the shadows fall and use them as an additional element in your photo, or you could even make the shadow the focus.

Focus on details

If the light is too harsh and you’re getting strange shadows on your subjects faces, you can still capture the moment by focusing somewhere else. Little details like feet splashing in water, standing on wet sand at the beach, or little hands busy at play.

Thank you Rebecca for sharing some tips. I can not wait to give these a try.

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