Having trouble exposing on Sunny Days?
Shooting primarily beach portraits I hear from clients all the time that they really hope to have a sunny day. Sunny days are the antithesis of what you want as a photographer. The clients squint, there is harsh shadows, hot spots on heads, blown out sky. However that does not mean it is impossible. It's just not ideal.
When shooting for clients our main goal at all times is the subject. You will hear me say this many times. Think about when you had portraits made of your family. You paid more attention to what you and your family look like than the overall image. Clients do not know or understand the whole process, every thing we nitpick in an image. That is why they pay us. They are paying us to present them in wall worthy art, however, when exposing, considering composition, always choose the subject as the main goal.
Let's begin. The short and sweet version is:
Portraiture Rule 101: Put your subject in even lighting.
Portraiture Rule 102: Expose for the subject
When the sun is out and bright, you want to use *backlight. This way your subject isn't squinting and there aren't as many harsh shadows which oddly enough makes the image look flat. Turn your subject around with the light source behind them. They may be in shadow BUT they are in even light and probably have a beautiful hair light. With your subjects (Ok, executive decision, our subject will henceforth be known as Jane.) So, with Jane's back to the sun we have to compensate for the suns power by over exposing the image. This puts Jane in even, exposed light. It also blows out the sky but IT'S OK. It is. There are options available to you but the easiest would be to counter the white sky with composition. I always set my sessions at the time of day just right for me. If it happens to be brighter than normal I will begin with close ups. This gives beautiful headshots, hair light and the white background does not compete with Jane. You can do this with families as well, have the adults hold the children for close ups. If it can't be helped and you cannot avoid shooting farther away use it as a component of composition. Make it work for you instead of trying to fight it.
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