In photography, learning and knowing how to use and manipulate light will always be an advantage. Especially when it comes to photographic portraits, because you will not always photograph your customers in the most ideal light.
Backlighting of subjects
One might think that the backlight can only be applied during the hours of sunset, however, it can be used whenever the sun has exceeded its peak. Once the sun tilts a little, you're able to backlight the subject.
This technique is ideal for keeping the sun directly on your client's face and avoiding those strange shadows that occur under the eyebrows, the nose and the chin.
It also helps to prevent people from peeking. Keeping the subject's face away from direct sunlight also helps keep them comfortable during the session. Pay attention also to the backgrounds, because sometimes, to keep the light of your client's face, it could mean having them in front of an unwanted background.
Do your best to position your subjects away from direct sunlight while keeping the background you want.
Fortunately, because the sun is high in the sky and very likely very bright, you will have plenty of natural light at your disposal.
The natural reflectors are great for bouncing the light on the subject without having to spend tons of expensive photographic gear. They are in position and can fill the shadows nicely.
Natural reflectors include large parking lots, sidewalks, windows, large light-colored walls, silver or white cars, buildings with silver or reflective panels / architectural designs, light-colored cement walls / floors, sand on the beach and any reflection natural found surface.
Restores the subject when the sun has passed its peak and place it in front of a large natural reflector to bounce the light on their face.
Professional photographic reflectors are also great to use if you already own one. Position the subject with the shoulders in the sun. Use the silver side of the reflector to bounce the light on them.
Be careful not to point the reflected light directly in the eyes of your subject as it can be really bright, almost like direct sunlight. Tilt a little until you find enough fill on their face.
Make sure you do not place the reflector on the floor pointing up towards your customer. This will bounce the light upwards that will give you strange, unflattering shadows on your face. Rather, have a stand or friend hold the reflector up so that the light bounces around the chest.
Use caution when using the white side of the reflector during the midday sun as this may cause the client's face to wash and appear dull.
Use a canvas to spread the light
Some reflectors, in particular the 5 in 1 type, have a translucent side. This translucent reflector helps to diffuse the sunlight without blocking it completely. You can also make your own fabric using a translucent fabric and a PVC hula-hoop.
Keep the gauze on your client's face or body to spread the light. Pay attention to your backgrounds. If the background is brighter than your client, the background will be overexposed. If possible, try to match the light in the background in the light of your client.
Scrims are especially effective if you're looking for close-up photos of your client.
Underexposure while photographing in the midday sun can help you get less faded backgrounds. Underexposing your photo can also help preserve details that would otherwise be lost if they were too bright.
After the session, you can make the shadows appear in your favorite editing program without losing details in the rest of the image. Even the 1/2 to 1 stop underexposure can help keep the background details intact.
You can also exhibit for both of your customers in a photo and in the next exposure for the background. Then you can combine both photos so that the final photo is exposed both for people and for the scene.
This will also be a bit like the HDR which gives your photo a more artistic and dynamic look. Make sure that both photos are taken using the same lens, at the same distance, with the same frame so that both images line up. Otherwise, it will be harder to merge photos into an editing program.
Use the flash
Flash is a great resource to use during the midday sun. Especially when you are in a place where the natural reflectors are scarce or you need a further ray of light. Flash is also useful during midday sessions, so you can properly expose your customers while keeping the background.
Since you will compete in the bright midday sun, aim the flash directly at your customers to ensure that the light reaches them. The use of a diffuser can help to disperse the light. If you're using your flash in manual mode, try using it at 1/8 power or more. This will give you enough energy to turn on your customers.
Experiment with the flash in high-speed sync mode where you can use shutter speeds above 1/200 second. You will get more photos in style while the pop of light will be more directional and your background will be darker.
Pointing the flash on a large white wall can also help to bounce the light on your customers, while in the meantime spreading the light so that it is not so hard creating a nice mixed fill.
If your flash is attached to your camera, you can slightly bend the flash down to direct it to your customers rather than raise it completely. It can add more light to the scene and direct it where you want it to be.
Shoot with white balance
It might seem a little strange to photograph the whole session in the Shade White Balance and the eyes might take a little bit. of time to get used to the sepia tones. However, photographing people in shaded mode helps keep skin tones uniform.
This is very important, especially when photographing during the midday sun, since it can be really bright and difficult to maintain consistent skin tone.
Shade White Balance lets you edit your photos to get the exact skin tones you want.
Let creativity flow
Photographing during midday may not be ideal, but it can offer many different ways to make your creativity flow. Use shadows to create interesting effects. Try to face your client in direct sunlight and focus on details.
You can also use hats, palm leaves, water and other interesting elements to create different photographs in style. Experiment with your flash in different positions. Use the sun as a subject within the photo.
Let your backgrounds get dark or go away. Use the midday sun to highlight the details you want and shadow the details you want to delete. There are many different ideas and letting the sun guide you can often give you the best results!
Put your customers in the shade
Just because you have to photograph during the harsh midday sun, that does not mean you can not use shaded areas to your advantage!
You do not need a lot of shade, just enough to adapt to your customers. Tall buildings, tall tall trees and high walls work to help protect your client from bright light during the middle of the day. Place them near a large natural reflector, keeping them in the shade while using the light that is bounced back.
Be sure to expose to your client's face and not the background, this will help you keep skin tones even if the background dries a little.
While photographing at noon sunlight is not necessarily ideal, it can always offer some great ways to create different and interesting photographs of your customers. Practicing during these hours is also useful in case you need to take pictures at noon of the sun, such as a wedding day.
If you find yourself photographing during these busy hours of the day, know that these tips will help you get the best out of your session, regardless of the light.