Dade Freeman
Photographer & Trainer
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Dade Freeman's blog page for all the latest photographic news.

Photographing in the midday sun

As you all know, I love shooting in a photographic studio - it just gives me the control and options I want/need. Yes, they are sterile and can be boring, but sometimes that's part of the challenge.

The other side of the coin is that taking your clients into the great outdoors can be much more taxing because you have less control over things such as the weather, the environment and even the public.

I have often heard it said that you shouldn't take photos in the midday sun because that is when it is at its harshest. I say work with what you've got. Yes, it doesn't offer the best light to work with, but there is no need to skulk off into the dark like a vampire. I frequently find myself having to shoot weddings between 12noon and 4pm - the venues can be large open fields with little to no shade so sometimes you just have to work with it. 

Of course, if there is shade, try to use it or create it with a diffuser. But if there is none to be had then turn your model away from the direct sun and allow the background to become overexposed. If you want to keep the background in the shot, you could bounce light back onto your subject with a reflector or illuminate them with flash.

Beaches can be great shooting spaces, but it is important to look around and find a nice background, prop or interesting way to use the environment. Watch out for people walking through your frame or being in the background of your shot unless, of course, you actually want that.

Utilising a prop such a the driftwood in the above shot can really make an image come to life - it gives the model something to work with and a whole new narrative for the viewer.  

Alternately, find walls, alleys or little hidey holes that you can use. In the little series below I wanted to use the harsh bright light directly on my subject, so I found other ways to block the light in her eyes. People don't like looking into bright lights for too long so be kind and make it easier for them if possible. In this instance, using a large hat and dark glasses did the trick and brought the added bonus of a style element into the shoot.

Sometimes the small details make a big difference. By changing my position around my subject I found this frame. So next time you are faced with a harsh, bright, sunny day, don't fear it, work it!


Dade Freeman is a Brighton photographer producing portraits and headshots for actors, musicians, corporate business and other professional industries.