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Tips for Stunning Portraits in Direct Sun

Easy techniques for shooting and editing photos in broad daylight
Photo of woman in direct sunlight

Everyone always tells you not to shoot portraits in direct sun but don’t believe them. There are actually quite a few ways to capture stunning photos even when the sun is beaming right at your subject.

That’s the message of photographer Justin Laurens‘ tutorial below where he shares his techniques for shooting and editing photo in direct sun to make your portraits shine. Typically, photographers are always looking for ways to avoid harsh light and unflattering shadows when shooting portraits outdoors but sometimes you can’t prevent them. Below, Laurens explains how you can not only “save” those images during post-processing, but actually improve on them.

“One of the golden rules of outdoor portrait photo shoots is to avoid capturing your images in broad daylight,” Laurens notes.

“This is because harsh direct sunlight increases the risk of blowing out the highlights or creating unflattering, hard-edge shadows on your model’s face. However, rules are meant to be broken if you truly wish to create unique and impactful photos that stand out from the crowd. And, when used correctly, shooting in direct sunlight can actually create dramatic bold portraits with high contrast, which really helps to boost depth and dimension. Hard light can also enhance the mood by making your subject look stronger and more powerful. ”

He explains that all you need to do to create stunning broad daylight portrait photos is to use the right shooting angle and the correct editing workflow.


“In this Photoshop tutorial, learn how to edit (& shoot) photos captured in direct sunlight,” Laurens says. “You will learn how to color-correct these challenging images and then create a beautiful color-grade. Following this, I will show you how to create a Preset, which you can use to quickly edit any direct sunlight portrait photo.”

So be sure to stick around to the end of the video below where he helps you create a shortcut preset to breeze through your sunshine portrait edits.


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