Sometimes shooting a portrait session (or even parts of a wedding) in the middle of the day is unavoidable, but I’m so excited to share a few tips on how to shoot in the middle of the day! Maybe it’s due to sunset time, kids’ bed times, other plans, or even weather. When Meg’s Prescott, AZ maternity session was originally scheduled, it was for two hours before sunset. However, as the date was approaching and I was watching the forecast, it was expected that the weather would be rainy and storming nearly all weekend. It was time to get creative.
Her session was scheduled for a Friday. She had her Airbnb booked for Thursday and Friday night only. (Prescott is about two hours north of Phoenix, where my family was staying for four weeks this summer.) Luckily, both of our schedules were wide open during those two days. It was my mission to find a pocket of sunny weather so we wouldn’t have to cancel her session altogether.
My prayers were answered, because the forecast predicted just about two hours of sunny or partly sunny weather Friday morning from 8:30 to 10:30. Here are my best tips for photographing a session in the middle of the day.
A couple days before our session, I drove around Prescott between 8-10am scouting locations. I made sure to go during the time of the day in which Meg’s session would take place. This is to help me feel more confident in know where the good light would be so I wasn’t wasting time the day of the session.
Find a spot that provides open shade, if possible. Open shade is when the clients are standing in shade but when they look up, the sky above their heads is visible. (i.e., they’re not standing under a bridge, awning, tree branches, etc.) You’ll want to avoid placing your subjects in covered shade because it can cause shadows and dark under-eye circles. I was lucky to find this beautiful location with tall cottonwood trees close together (but not too close) to offer open shade. You can use open shade from trees, buildings, roadways, bridges, overpasses, and more. Ideally you’ll be able to place your clients in the shade to the light around them is soft and even, as opposed to bright and harsh.
For example, I’m a light and airy photographer so I’m constantly looking for lighter backgrounds. I try to avoid placing my clients in front of dark, thick shrubbery. I loved this particular location in Prescott because the trees weren’t too close together. You can see plenty of sunlight coming in between the trees, which helps to make the background light and bright.
Backlighting is when your clients’ backs are to the sun and they’re facing their shadows. This ensures that the light on your clients is soft and even, especially when it’s super sunny outside. For Meg’s session, it was partly cloudy this time of day. Sometimes the sun was out in full force, other times we had some nice cloud cover. When the sun was out, I made sure to have Meg and her family backlit. When the clouds covered the sun, I was able to photograph them from different directions, even slightly facing the direction of the sun.
My hope is that I answered a few of your questions on how to shoot in the middle of the day, and you will have more confidence going into your next shoot! Have questions about shooting in full sun or in the middle of the day? Leave a comment below!
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