Sun part 1 | An Education

“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”…well, actually it’s been crazy busy, but it’s the 1st Wednesday of the month and we’re excited to share about sun!

With the beautiful summer weather we’ve been getting we decided to write about how to tackle those super sunny days and still get a great portrait, no extra equipment necessary (for part 1)!

When we lived in California we were struck with a huge challenge…it’s sunny every day. Really, it is. Which is amazing for enjoying the outdoors, sitting outside for lunch, and all sorts of sports, but not fantastic for photos. In the beginning we thought we were geniuses just putting everyone’s back to the sun, which can work, but isn’t the best light to be found on someone’s face unless there is a reflective surface bouncing the light back on your subject. There are some cool effects with putting someone’s back to the sun and adding a reflector or catching sun rays in the shot however! Through lots of practice and education we’ve learned a few tricks for taking photos in the sunshine, hence, today’s education post is about finding great light on a sunny day.

We headed outside at 5pm, with really strong sunlight and no clouds to show you what it looks like if we were to face the sun (Marissa is squinting and has a terrible nose shadow) or turning halfway from it (Erik’s face has a huge contrast with black on one side and really light tones on the other). Not pretty.

So we headed into some open shade…

Open shade means that our subject is shaded, but above their head you can still see the sky, which is our favorite types of shady spots.

When we’re in the shade we want our clients to face the light, not put their back to it. Below you can see Marissa’s back is to the sun (she’s pointing to it up and behind her on the left). This gives her a lot of shadows under her eyes, nose, and neck and isn’t very flattering.

In the next shot we switched spots and Marissa is now facing the light with Erik’s back to the sun. The light is hitting her face now and the shadows are much less pronounced, which is way more flattering. If we had added a reflector it would give her even more light and flatter her face much more (stay tuned another month for how we like to use these).

There are exceptions to every rule. Sometimes, like in the shot below, it can look cool to have some sun! We just always think about the purpose for our photo and what we’re trying to accomplish with the light and look before we take the shot.

A real life sunny example below…

Angela & Josh were married on a beautiful sunny day a few weeks ago. It was about 3pm (high sun) when we photographed the groomsmen so we literally found the only piece of open shade on the property that also faced the light for the shot below.

Then we broke the rules and got this sweet contrasted shot!

Later, with the sun still bright we found a shaded field and had Angela face the sun for this shot, which gave her hardly any shadows and flattered her beautifully.

 Thanks for reading and stay tuned for next month, part 2 in dealing with a sunny day (with added equipment!).

Lesson Learned: Get out of the sun and find some open shade.

Stay cool, Erik & Marissa

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