5 Tips for Shooting Portraits in Bright Sunshine

The following photography tips will help you shoot portraits in bright sunshine. For many photographers, taking photos in bright sun can seem like an overwhelming challenge, one that they will never get quite right. But that doesn't have to be the case. You can - and should - take full advantage of every bit of beautiful sun that you can, and you can get some great shots in the bargain, too.

The first thing you'll need to do is to venture away from your automatic settings. This may seem like a scary proposition if you've never really dared to turn your dial to that dreaded little "M". Don't be intimidated. If you can bring yourself to do this, you'll have taken the first step toward capturing some great fun-in-the-sun shots.

Here are 5 tips that will help you better shots in bright sun:

1. Get Your Settings Right

Remember this: low ISO. The sun is already beating down on you, and you don't need to have a higher ISO to compensate. An ISO of 100 will be just fine. Next, set your WB (white balance) to auto. This will ensure the colours you capture are natural: blue water stays blue, skin tones look natural, etc. Finally, pay careful attention to your focal length. In a typical 17mm-55mm lens, inch more toward the 55mm end of things.

2. Turn on Your Flash

It may seem counter-intuitive to turn on your flash in bright sunlight, but there's a good reason to do so. The flash in this case is not used to illuminate the entire image (the sun does that for you quite nicely). What the flash will do is brighten some of the shadows that can be cast on your subjects when the sun is high in the sky.

3. Keep Direct Sunlight from Ruining Your Shot

Too much direct sun will give your pictures a washed-out look. To avoid that, utilize what shade you can find; stand in the shade of a tree or even just use your shade to shelter your camera from the sun. Every little bit helps to eliminate lens flare.

4. Position Your Body Right

You can also use your body position to create great shots in these challenging conditions. Angle your body so the sun is hitting you at your side. Don't take pictures with the midday sun directly behind your subject - that will cause washed out pictures. Conversely, if you stand with the sun directly behind you, you'll get shadows. Allow the sun into the shot from the side and you'll get better results.

5. Experiment with Metering

Metering your shot in bright sun can be a challenge. One good strategy can be to choose the "spot metering" option on your camera. Then, choose the focal point of your photo as the metering point. If you want to ensure the entire shot is clearly exposed, you can also opt to use a mid-way tone of your shot to meter from. Experimentation is in order here; play until you get the shot you want.

How to take photographs in bright sun can be a difficult thing to puzzle out, but it doesn't have to be that way. If you take the step of moving into manual mode and give yourself permission to play with the settings, you can get some amazing results.