How To Do Photography on a Sunny Day

Many beginner photographers find it a challenge to begin their photography on a sunny day. Shadows and sunlight in the same photo can be a challenge.  Some are not sure where to begin with their portrait photography on a sunny day. This is not so surprising because portrait photography on a sunny day can be a minefield of problems. Not only do you have shadows to contend with, but you have to deal with many overexposed areas to. Getting the right light seems to be a challenge that is difficult to overcome.

Portrait photography on a sunny day need not be so difficult if you remember a few valuable tips.  To start with, portrait photography on bright, sunny days is best when you have an even, well balanced light to work with. This means making sure there is not too much overexposure and not too much underexposure in the photo. It means making sure that all the light is the same, right across the photo.

Aiming for well balanced light across the photo isn’t the only thing you need to be mindful of. When mastering you portrait photography on a sunny day you will need to be aware of not just shadow, but where your shadows fall.

When taking your portrait photography outside in very bright light, you will need to be mindful of the shadows across your friends face. Under the nose and under the eyes and the troublesome spots for making someone look old and their nose a lot larger then it is.


Here we have two portraits taken on a sunny day. The first is a young woman with the sun behind her. Normally, this would create a silhouette effect. Why doesn’t it? The fact is that there is ample light being bounced back on to her to illuminate her face and remove any harsh shadows from her face. How is this done? We can use a flash with a diffuser on the front (soft flash) or reflectors.

The young man has shadows across his face.  As far as the “rules” go for portrait photography on a sunny day, this seems to break most of them. However, we can see that even though he has shadow, it does not seem to distract us from his face at all. Why is this? It is most likely because of a filter the photography has used, a reflector to brighten the shadow a little or the sun was not very strong.

Whatever you decide, just remember that portrait photography on a sunny day needs to have the light working for you, instead of against you.

About the Author

Amy is an multi-award winning photographer from Australia. She teaches enthusiast photographers how to take beautiful, professional photos in easy, plain English. She has a monthly photography emagazine and ebooks to help you create stunning images every time.

Comments (15)

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  1. Bernie says:

    What about the flash? Can’t you use flash on a sunny day?

  2. Julia Birch says:

    Amy, does this mean you can take pets the same way?

  3. Ricky says:

    I can’t see the veiw finder on a sunny day to even see what I’m doing.

    • Ricky, increase your brightness as much as you can, but make sure you take an extra battery. Increasing the brightness does take power, but it’s worth if to see what you are doing. Alternatively, just look through the camera instead.

  4. Johnny says:

    Thanks Amy.

  5. Mark says:

    Your ezine is the best photography magazine I have ever read.,thanks for your work, keep up the good work.

  6. Terri says:

    I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your blog is really nice, keep it up!

  7. Martin says:

    Does this apply to bright lights inside as well?

  8. Sam says:

    Very well written.

  9. Jan says:

    Good one Amy, I really like the way you explain things.

  10. Lorelle says:

    A sterling comment on striving to free yourself from fear.

  11. Andi says:

    Very helpful, have always struggles with lighting.

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