How I Take Photos in Direct Sunlight

Product details: Nikon DSLR

How I Take Photos in Direct Sunlight

    I personally think that photos in direct sunlight are breathtakingly beautiful! The natural and marvelous glow reflected in the skin is truly one heck of an advantage. In all the years I've been a photographer, I have put all my efforts into mainly one thing– to be able to 'read' natural light–both indoors and outdoors. By achieving this, I can use the sunlight in my favor and use natural reflectors from my surroundings to add even more light. 

    woman smiling with eyes closed on direct sunlight

    photos at the beach in direct sunlight


    I really wished I had someone with me on ALL my shoots! It would give me tons of behind the scenes footage to share with all of you. Which unfortunately isn't the case right now. Regardless, I'll be going through my steps in the simplest way possible. 

    woman on the beach sitting on a surfboard


    1. 1. Search for natural reflectors. This is the first thing I do when shooting photos in direct sunlight. Natural reflectors are materials around us that we can use to bounce light back into our subjects. I look at the sidewalks, pavements, windows, white or silver cars, or any type of structure with light-colored walls. I can even use my white shirt as a natural reflector. I also carry a reflector with me on every shoot. 

    2. woman on the beach sitting on a surfboard

    3. 2. Lower my ISO. Once I have my surroundings checked, I lower my ISO and set the rest of the exposure triangle.  I'm usually shooting at ISO 125 or 200 when I'm in full direct sunlight. This allows my photos to be super sharp and to better manage the natural light. 

    4. 3. Use the sun as my main light source. I'm a full natural light photographer! So yes, I will most certainly use the sun as my main light source. 

    5. 4. Watch my histogram. The histogram is like a little map on my camera that shows me the tonal values of my images. By reading it, I'm able to see if I'm capturing certain details correctly and if my exposure is where I want it to be. 

    6. 5. I plan the shoot ahead of time. I'm a huge planner and I sketch out all of my photos days or weeks before my shoots. I plan out what I want to shoot, how I want my subjects to look for each shot, and how I want to use the location for each shot. This allows me to maximize the time and it's also more comfortable for you because it speeds up the shooting time under the direct sun. 


    Although shooting photos in direct sunlight might not be for everyone, I find it to be very fitting for my photography style. So the next time you daydream about those sunny vibes, I got you! We can perfectly create some pretty amazing things if we're patient enough to deal with the heat. Oh! Face towels and bottled water are a must! I thought you might need to know that 😉 

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