lesson: shooting in full sun | By Lauren Webster
A few years ago, when I first started really understanding the technical aspects of photography,
I was one of those people who only shot at golden hour or in the confines of my own home
where I knew and understood the light. I really started exploring lowlight photography and fell in
love with it. That became the overall look of my brand. Moody, lowlit images were my
trademark. It made my work stand out in our area where the beautiful light, airy, film look is in.
The more and more I started to explore photography and my voice as a storyteller, the braver I
got with when and where I took my camera. I started my first 365 the January after my daughter
turned one. Until then, using my cell phone for daily images of her was about all I had. I was
determined to shoot her entire second year with my “big girl camera” so I started reading
through breakouts and looking at work that inspired me. That summer, we took her on a cruise,
and I decided that I wanted to try to shoot in full sun. We were on beaches and everything we
did happened in the middle of the day. It scared me, for some reason. But now, two years later, I
have really found a love for shooting in full sun. I used to feel confined to shooting only during
certain hours of the day, but now that I know and understand light, I am able to tell the story of
my family at any hour of the day, and I am excited to share some of the things I’ve learned along
The best thing I ever learned when trying to photograph subjects in full sun is that I can change
my minimum ISO. Being able to shoot at ISO 50 changed the game for me. Not all cameras
have the ability, but if yours does it can be found in your menu under “ISO Speed Settings.”
From that menu, I have an “ISO Speed Range” option. I can click on that and change the
minimum and maximum ISO for my camera. ISO 50 is represented as an L.
Another one of the first things that really helped me when shooting in full sun is when I started
getting used to shooting with a narrower aperture. I know what you’re thinking. It can be scary to
move away from that beautiful bokeh if you’ve always shot wide open, but I promise it’s worth it.
Telling the whole story is more about what’s happening just within that small slice of focus
Another thing I always do is spot meter for the highlights on my subjects face. Remember that
you can bring up shadows in post, but you can’t fix a blown highlight. Also, full sun doesn’t
necessarily mean direct sun. Shooting in full sun and metering for the highlights gives you the
opportunity to shoot some really fun dappled light images too!
Knowing how light affects the scene and being able to manipulate it with the settings on your
camera is important. Being creatives allows you the freedom to explore beyond the confines of
your genre or style. No one ever has to see what you make. Just don’t let too much light (or too
little light) scare you away from telling your story.