My first tip is try not to shoot in harsh light. Hahaha. Plan your sessions during golden hour, align your timelines to have portraits during good light and prepare as much as you can to have good lighting for your photos.
BUT, I know bad or harsh lighting is inevitable, especially as wedding photographers. I typically have to shoot in harsh light during some part of the wedding day, first looks and bridal party almost always happen mid-day.
But let’s back up, what do I mean when I say harsh light? I’m talking about that super bright glowing star in the sky that shines straight down on you from 11am-2pm. It produces some harsh shadows and is not flattering to your skin. It also makes your subject squint, sweat, and generally be more uncomfortable than they already are.
BAD HARSH LIGHT
HARSH LIGHT, USED WELL
Here’s a tip from one of the best in the biz at shooting in harsh lighting, Eden Strader:
“My number one suggestion when shooting harsh light is to constantly watch the light on your subject’s facial features. When lighting hits inconsistently across their facial features, that's when you run into problems. Shooting slower, and making consistent lighting on their faces the priority, are the best things you can do when shooting any kind of harsh light!”
- Eden Strader
Okay, now some easy tips to work in harsh light:
Put The Sun to the Subject’s Back
This is my go-to move and it’s the easiest cause you can do it anywhere. Typically the sun is never perfectly overhead. Meaning your subject is casting some sort of shadow in one direction. Have them look down, find their shadow and aim their face towards it. This way the sun will be at their back and their face will have even light across it.
This is another easy one. Find some nice shade somewhere. This will allow your subject to feel a lot more comfortable as it will be cooler without the hot sun beaming down on them. You can move the subject much more freely and enjoy that even light across their face.
If you have a diffuser and an assistant or second shooter with you, they can hold a diffuser and soften the light on your subject. You can also use OCF, speedlights, and reflectors to overpower the shadows. I typically shoot alone, so these aren’t always an option for me. In this photo I’m using an awesome 5-in-1 reflector/diffuser from Neewer.
Here Are A Few Wedding Photos Shot in Harsh Light
Hopefully those tips help. If you have more tips that you love, please leave those in the comments below. Need more help? Feel free to shoot me a DM on Instagram or leave your comment below. Thanks!