Wedding Portraits in Midday Sun

Wedding portraits in midday sun can feel stressful but it doesn’t have to be. It’s no secret that photographers dislike taking photos midday as these often result in squinting or raccoon eyes. Put those portraits on the beach and it ups the anxiety for many a new photographer, causing them to say things like:

  1. Let’s go somewhere else
  2. I can’t photograph here
  3. This location and light will make you look awful

As wedding professionals, you will never hear me say “I can’t shoot here”. Is photographing outside at noon a bit more complicated, yes, but it doesn’t have to be stressful and has often produced some of our favorite images. There are some simple steps that we used for a Palmetto Dunes wedding recently that will definitely make photographing in the middle of the day much easier.

Avoid the Midday Sun

Most of us have probably thought at one point or another to simply avoid the sun by utilizing the cover of a tree or building. While this tactic may work for a short period of time as a photographer, it is leaving you at a disadvantage in the long run. There may come a time where your client has a specific location in mind that has absolutely no available shade.

When this happens, you can either suggest a new location, tell them you can’t photograph there, or figure out how. While we love photos in the open shade, here is what we do when none is available.

Use a Reflector

We love using a small reflector on location to block the sun for close-up portraits where a flat even look is desired, however, this still limits you to shooting pretty tight unless you have a large enough reflector. Reflectors can also be used on a wedding day to pop fill light into a backlit situation. Ultimately, though if you are having to shoot in the midday sun, you need multiple tools to produce what your client wants in any given situation. For that reason, you need to be able to add a fill flash into your arsenal of tools.

Using Fill Flash

Before ever using fill flash during midday wedding portraits, you need to get proper exposure to the surrounding environment with the sun at your subject’s back. This will result in the shadows on your subject’s faces. Once you have your settings dialed in then it is time to add in the flash.

You will either need an assistant or a light stand to hold your flash at eye level to your couple and slightly off to to the side of the shorter of the two people in the image. The power you set your flash at is fully dependant on what your camera settings are. Each situation will be different from the next due to your distance from the subject to the intensity of the sun that day. For this reason, you will need to take several test shots.

Midday Wedding Day Portraits

The resulting effect of incorporating fill light on the wedding day is having the couple’s face beautifully lit while not having to blow out the background in this Palmetto Dunes beach wedding.

Shooting in midday sun on a wedding day.


Getting Ready Venue: Palmetto Dunes

Ceremony Venue: Long Cove Marina

Floral Designer: Gray Harper

Hair and Makeup Artist: REFeyeANCE

Cake: The G Free Spot

DJ: Hilton Head Entertainment

Wedding Dress: Jenny Yoo

Catering: Long Cove Club

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Copyright 2021 Meredith Ryncarz Photography LLC