For photographers starting out, there is often a challenge when attempting that perfect shot in bright or direct sunlight. Either the foreground is to dark and ends up like a silhouette, or the foreground is exposed correctly, but the background is totally over exposed. This will occur in the same instance where you are in a room and you want the subject in the room exposed correctly as well as the outdoor view through the window compensated perfectly. Another area we struggle with is flair, and how to avoid it.

Below are a few useful tips that I believe will make your experience rewarding:


Try ensure that your subject is in the shade so they are evenly lit. This avoids dappled light or unwanted shadows or reflections. Read the situation as well as the weather and time of day, then plan your shoot accordingly. Realize that you cannot shoot outdoors in bright sunshine without a plan. Unless you have a lot of experience as well as the correct camera gear and equipment, which, again is not only expensive, but often requires an extra pair of hands, choose your time of day correctly and you will not have an issue. You will notice that an experienced photographer can shoot solo, with not more than a camera and a reflector on hand. Understanding light is everything and always has an effect on the final outcome. Perhaps attend an outdoor photography short workshop and everything will be clear. As the saying goes “ it’s easy when you know how”.

Move your subject

You cannot change the light or the location the client has chosen, and if the light is bad, move the subject to an area where the light is good and even. Make sure that there is no bright glare on the subject or the background, ensuring that the scene is evenly lit to compensate accordingly with your settings to achieve perfect exposure and temperature (white balance).

Reflect the light

Once you have your subject in even light, you might decide you want some contrast and pop from a fill in light. This may be achieved through:

  1. An off-camera flashlight
  2. A reflector
  3. Light reflecting off a building from behind you or across the way which acts as a diffused reflector, often providing an amazing soft light

Obviously, a reflector or a white building across the way or behind the [photographer is the easiest and the most cost-effective method. So, plan your shoot, taking the location into consideration. Scout the location first, making sure that it is at the time you have planned to do the shoot. This enables you to identify the natural light sources on hand as well as the areas of shade. Remember, a location is only perfect when the light is right – FACT.

Use a lens hood

This is not my favorite as it tends to get in the way. The times it is useful is when there is flair in the form of sun ray. The lens hood will often help, but my suggestion is rather move or shift your focus to a similar location close by.

Using a lens filter

Filters are great as they act as polarizers. Remember that filters are costly dependent on the glass, and available in various color tints. Especially useful when the lighting is extreme like snow and ice capped mountains with a high degree of reflection, or on a lake where the sun creates the diamond effect on the water through the ripples. Filters are not easy to use for the beginner and require you to have some knowledge of your camera settings.