Dealing with Bright, Harsh Light


Helping a subject cope with lighting can be tricky. Here’s some tips to help both photographers and subjects alike:

Find some shade. Put the subject under a tree or awning. Consequently, the same can be done for the photographer. Just like when the bright sun causes you to shade your eyes, you might want to try shading your lens. If you can’t find shade, try to make it. Use a lens hood or have a reflector held over your head, if you have an assistant.

Turn slightly away from the light. Sounds simple but can go a long way. Lighting is everything in photography and the slightest changes can mean the world. It would also help to have something (or someone) to focus on.

Turn completely away from the light. Most times this is when dealing with harsh sunlight. Harsh sunlight can cause squinting if behind the photographer. Not exactly the most flattering face. That’s why timing outdoor shoots is so important. Simply have the subject turn fully away from the sun. However, in doing so, you may need to find an alternative light source to light the subject. Try a reflector to bounce the sun that’s coming from behind the subject back at the subject. An even better choice would be a flash.

Use a countdown. Photographers generally use a cue or countdown with inexperienced subjects. A neat trick that I go with every time is telling the subject to focus on me and then close their eyes. I’ll then count down--3, 2, 1, *click*. I tell them that when they hear 1, they should open their eyes. This will give their eyes time to open wide yet not be affected by the bright light in their face.

Use a flash. The best way to mitigate bright light is to not have it on your subject unless needed. Hence, a flash being a great solution! Light is light, so you don’t need to have the most expensive flash to make a good picture. Any pop of light will do!


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Cornerstone Captures © 2012

Shane Redman | (804) 310-6856

African American Photographer | Washington DC | Alexandria, VA Arlington, VA | Woodbridge, VA | Richmond, VA

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