Six top tips for shooting summer portraits

Summer portraits have a special quality. Especially if you use the sun’s light creatively to illuminate your subject from behind. Our top summer portrait tips shows you how to master this technique

Summer portraits top tipsSummer portraits - girl beside tree

  1. Bright, sunny days can make outdoor summer portraits difficult. Following the common wisdom and positioning yourself with the sun behind you, your subject will be staring straight into it, casting horrid facial shadows and causing them to squint horribly.
  2. Instead, turn 180° so that the sun is behind your subject, but make sure the sun itself is not visible in shot. Finding a shaded spot may help, but could result in too high a contrast range between subject and background.
  3. Backlighting in this way can be used to create a flattering bright halo around the edges of the subject’s hair and other elements in the shot.
  4. Metering for a backlit subject can be problematic, as your camera may be fooled by the brightness behind the subject, underexposing the face. Take a spot or partial meter reading off the subject and expose for that. Check your LCD and adjust if necessary.
  5. You may wish to underexpose the subject slightly to keep more detail in the background, but don’t go too far. If the contrast range is too great, try using a white or silver reflector to bounce light back onto the subject’s face.
  6. An alternative is to use just a hint of fill-in flash (set to minus one or two stops of flash exposure compensation, if you have that option) to add a bit of light to the face and add an attractive catchlight to the eyes.

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