How to Photograph Portraits in the Midday Sun

It’s high time you mastered this technique…

In this photography class, Karl once again demonstrates how to photograph in challenging conditions.

Shooting outdoor portraits under the midday sun is less than ideal. But with a few simple bits of equipment and some top tips from Karl, you’ll be able to take great portraits no matter the time of day or position of the sun.

This class features a lot of useful equipment for photographing outdoors in harsh conditions. Karl shows the results through clear comparison images, helping you to understand the effect and benefit of each.

In this class:

  • Portrait Photography: How to photograph using natural light
  • Portrait photography tips
  • Natural light photography: How to photograph in midday sun
  • Useful equipment for outdoor photography
  • How to soften harsh sunlight for photography
  • How to use a polarizing filter

Questions? Please post them in the comments section below.


  1. Jens Mueller

    Hi Karl,

    I’ve got the same Sunbounce scrim, and I use this for photographing garden furniture (one table with five chairs around it).
    Problem is, that the scrim is too small and I have to composite all that (using an additional reflector on each chair etc.).

    What would you recommend as a larger scrim?
    I know there are these large scrim frames (3 x 3 m and bigger, quite expensive), but could white curtain fabric (without pattern) also work, outdoor, clamped to 4 c-stands?

    Thank you for your help!


    1. Hi Jens, any semi transparent white fabric or diffusion material will work. Shower curtains, fabric etc etc so it is plausible to make your own frame up even from connected pieces of wood, just careful in a strong breeze!

  2. Hi Karl, great tips! Thank you very much! Is there any part on the course where you show us how to direct and pose a model? I assume that with models is more easy than with regular people as they almost always know what to do, but in the case of regular people what advice can you give us? What is wright and what is wrong? Thanks a lot!

  3. Hi Karl, I have tried to have the exposure adjusted to the brightest point of what I wanna shoot (for instance the sun itself) and then point to my subject and shoot. What I noticed is that the focus is actually on the sun and not the subject and obviously the pic turns out very dark on my subject, perfect on the sun. I go on Lightroom and adjust everything evenly but the problem is that because of the focus, my subject is not sharp and the pic looks awful (looks like a lot of noise or something like that, like when you burst the ISO).
    What am I doing wrong? I just wanna have the correct exposure on the subject, shooting in harsh light. Ps, I don’t own a polarizing filter but got a GX1 atm.

    1. Hi Endre, you are going beyond the recordable range of the camera’s capabilities here. You need to watch our Introduction course from the beginning to fully understand the recordable exposure. Please also read my comments in reply to ‘Alexandre da costa LEITAO’ in the comments on this page As you progress through our courses you will realise the points raised in these comments and using your camera in full manual will become second nature but you have to also fully appreciate the limitations of the equipment compared to your eyes and how we overcome them.

  4. I cant use a polariser on the Nikon unless using centre weighted metering, which is the recommended metering for a polarising filter advice from Nikon. Else the exposure is inconsistent.
    Not sure if that’s similar recommendation on the Canon?

    1. Hi Chris, yes you can it’s just the light meter won’t work properly but the recorded photo will still be fine. You just need to work in manual mode and adjust the exposure based on what you see. As I advise in my courses the light meter is just a guide it’s not always correct anyway so just use it to get you in the ball park and then take it from their in Manual.

      1. Thanks but this is the internal camera metering – built into the camera. I never use a light meter. I only shoot RAW so I don’t get influences as built into settings under JPG.
        I tend to use the playback to analyse as much as I can, not ideal and raise any shadows in Lightroom.

  5. A good tip for harsh sunlight.
    The scrim is a great aid but cumbersome and needs assistance. Great for a pro set up though.

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