Erika is a natural light photographer specializing in newborns, children, seniors and families. You can see more at www.erikasnow.com

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How to take a picture outside in the summer | erika snow photography

As the days are getting longer and there is no shortage of sun here in Arizona I hope you are all out making memories with your families and capturing them on your camera.  When you are taking pictures outside in the sun it is easy to get harsh shadows or raccoon eyes.  Here are some tips to avoid those things and get great summer shots.

1.  Shoot with subject’s backs to the sun as much as possible

2. Do not take the picture if you can see shadows in the eyes of your subject with your naked eye.  The camera will enhance the shadows and voila! you have a racoon face for a child.  You can’t fix it in Photoshop, so don’t even try.  Always make sure your lighting is right in the eyes before you ever click the shutter.  Turn that face in either direction until you see those gnarly shadows disappear.

3. Watch out for shiny things in your surroundings that throw back weird reflections on your subject.

4.  Be aware of what’s behind your subject. If your subject is in shade, but behind him is a fiercely bright background, don’t take the picture.  Reasons?  a. It’s difficult for your camera to expose correctly in that situation and b. you’ll turn to your beloved photoshop to try and fix it and c. that will make you crazy, and d. a bright, overexposed background takes away from the beauty of the subject.

5. If any part of your subject’s face is in the sun (like the tip of the nose) while the rest is in shade, don’t take the picture.  Again, it’s nearly impossible to get the face exposed properly in this case just because your camera’s meter can be easily thrown off by super-bright parts of a scene and super dark parts as well.

6. Use anything, and I mean anything you can get your hands on to block harsh sun out of a face.  Things I’ve used in the past:

  • a reflector
  • a poor innocent bystander
  • my camera bag
  • my long hair 
(a bit tricky)
  • the dad of whatever family we’re photographing
  • a take-out container  (quite comical)

These are just my rules of thumb.  Rules I try to follow to avoid that feeling you get when you notice the harsh light just ain’t working for you.  The most important rule: Light is either there, or it’s not.  You’ll save yourself a lot of grief if you chant that to yourself a few times.  There’s nothing more exciting than realizing you can finally “see the light”… and that takes practice.

Look at the eyes.  The eyes say it all.  If there is soft, lovely light in the eyes- you’ve got yourself a purdy picture.

Happy Shooting!

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Comments (4)

  1. Pingback: DFW Photographer :: Alisha Ippolito « « DFW Mama DFW Mama

  2. raejean 06/16/2010 at 6:20 pm

    I appreciate the helpful tips!

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  4. Summer 06/12/2010 at 4:58 pm

    Great Tips! I can't believe how much I don't know about photography! Thanks for sharing!