Photo Tips

Direct Sunlight Photography in 5 Easy Steps!

Me Ra Koh

The sun is out, and summer is in full gear, so how do we deal with direct sunlight photography?  I have five easy steps to improve your outdoor photos when bright sun is breathing down your neck.

The key to working with outdoor lighting and improving your direct sunlight photography is slowing down.  We’ve got to take a deep breath and slow ourselves down before we start shooting.  We’ve got to become aware of where the light is, the direction the light is coming from, and how the light looks on our subjects.  When we don’t slow down and pay attention to the light, we end up rushing into photos that look like this!  Look familiar?

Step 1: Slow down—breathe.  Resist putting the camera to your eye until you’ve taken note of the sun’s position.

Great tips on how to deal with direct sunlight photography by Me Ra Koh!



  1. THIS would have been great for me yesterday.. i went to a friends SIL house for family session and had a hard time with the light (afternoon light) i have ALOT of washed out photos =(
    BUT one thing for sure is I need is to SLOW down!! Im one who takes alot of shots right away. like you said, thinking it makes me look like i know what im doing! LOL

    Also didnt help that my friend kept directing me where to put them so i lost all confidence in myself (instead of telling her to shut up!! LOL) and I shut down =( everything was going so fast i didnt even notice. But her reason for directing me was that i wasnt doing or saying anything.. its only today, after reading your blog, that i realize i was soaking in my surroundings and i guess it wasnt fast enough for my friend.

    lets just hope my photos dont show that i shut down.. ive only gone through the photos once and havnt looked back yet cause i feel i did such a horrible job!

    Now to refocus myself and practice.. THANK YOU!!

  2. aah! I love this.
    I live in AZ where the bright sun is just doing its job…being bright AND sunny and ALL hours of the day. So I appreciate this blog. I frequently do move my clients around and around and its nice to have affirmation in doing this. Hopefully I will get to the point where I can place them correctly with just one or two minor corrections.

  3. Agnes says:

    Thanks Mera! I will practice this exercise. I thought we want the sun in front of the subject at all times? I guess not when it’s too harsh? Thanks for the tips!

  4. Love this post and it is very helpful.

    Now we need instructions on how to BRING BACK the flippin sun around here. Geesh!

  5. Abbey says:

    Hi MeRah!!!!!
    You are soo right. I now take my time when shooting and am less hesitant to stop and assess the situation – looking for the best light and if needed, asking my subjects to turn or move until i can find the best light. I’m gonna practice this during mid-day and see what results I get! Hope all is well!

  6. DawnS says:

    Perfect timing! I was just searching through your archives last week looking for this exact thing. Thanks 🙂

  7. natasha says:

    Thanks for this:0)
    I was having trouble before and midday sun pictures are the hardest.

  8. Dawn Cox says:

    Thanks so much for your time in doing this exercise!…and thanks to Pascaline for her participation! I am going to practice, practice, practice!

    I have been asked by a friend to shoot my communities youth soccer team(summer recreation)photos in a couple weeks! Although I am sure it will be harder with 14 youth vs. one! I think it will get to be around 10am before we are done…not the 1pm light you had to battle. But, I am sure it will be challenging in many other areas to boot! I am a little concerned about the light and squinting eyes, I will be slowing down and looking at the light before I start and doing some shifting with the first group! Thanks, Me Ra!

  9. Sue Christianson says:

    I LOVE YOU!!!! This is soooo helpful. I just did an engagement shoot last week at 6pm last week and the sun was still SO bright and I was so afraid going into the shoot because lighting has been my biggest challenge. I did take the time to look at the light and how it was shining on them but was still frustrated and nervous

    Thanks so much Me Ra! This helped tons!!!!

  10. Me Ra says:

    Yeah!! I’m so glad this Photo-Recipe was helpful! Thanks for letting me know!!

  11. sarah says:

    i’ve got five shoots this week and we are BAKING here in sunny helsinki. this post couldn’t have come at a better time. thank you!

  12. Debbie Allan says:

    Thank you so much Me Ra – today is dull, but on the next bright sunny day I am leaping outside to take some before and after shots for the forum.

    Cannot wait.


  13. Tina Palmer says:

    This was soooooooo helpful!!! Thank you! I jump up and down when it’s cloudy out but now maybe I will learn to appreciate these sunny days and when the sun is beating down on my kiddo’s!

  14. Amanda says:

    So helpful! Thank you! If you aren’t able to move the person, do you recommend using fill flash?

  15. […] Me Ra’s photography exercise this month gave new meaning to the phrase, “it’s a scorcher out there,” when you have a camera in one hand and a bottle of sunscreen in the other. I almost always avoid doing shoots in the middle of the day, but in this case, I threw my gem of an a33 in my pool bag (fully protected and well-cared for, Sony Sponsor Team) and joined some friends for an afternoon of sunburn…I mean funburn. […]