How to take better-looking photos in the harsh summer sun

How to take better-looking photos in the harsh summer sun

Summer is a time of vibrant colors, outdoor adventures, and sun-soaked memories. However, capturing these moments can be challenging when the sun is harsh and high in the sky, creating stark contrasts and unflattering shadows. Fear not! With a few tips and tricks, you can master the art of taking stunning photos even in the bright summer sun.

1. Use the golden hours

One of the best ways to avoid the harsh midday sun is to shoot during the golden hours – shortly after sunrise and just before sunset. During these times, the light is softer and warmer, casting long shadows and creating a magical glow. Plan your outdoor shoots around these times to capture the best light of the day.

2. Find or create shade

If you have to shoot during midday, look for shaded areas. Trees, buildings, and other structures can provide a natural diffuser, softening the harsh sunlight. If no shade is available, create your own using a portable reflector or even a white sheet. This will help reduce harsh shadows and create a more even light on your subject.

3. Use a reflector

Reflectors are a photographer’s best friend when dealing with bright sunlight. They bounce light back onto your subject, filling in shadows and providing a more balanced exposure. Silver reflectors are great for strong light, while white reflectors offer a softer effect. Experiment with different angles to find the best light.

4. Adjust your camera settings

Proper camera settings can make a significant difference in your photos. Use a lower ISO to reduce noise, and adjust your aperture to control the depth of field. A smaller aperture (higher f-stop) will give you a greater depth of field, which is useful for landscape shots. For portraits, a larger aperture (lower f-stop) can help blur the background and make your subject stand out.

5. Use a polarizing filter

A polarizing filter is an excellent tool for outdoor photography. It reduces glare from reflective surfaces like water and leaves, enhances colors, and increases contrast. This is particularly useful on bright, sunny days when reflections can be overwhelming.

6. Experiment with angles

Sometimes, changing your perspective can mitigate harsh lighting. Try shooting from different angles to see how the light interacts with your subject. Backlighting, where the sun is behind your subject, can create beautiful silhouettes and a natural rim light effect. Side lighting can add depth and texture to your photos.

7. Embrace shadows and highlights

Instead of fighting the harsh light, sometimes it’s better to embrace it. High contrast between light and shadow can add drama and interest to your photos. Look for interesting shadow patterns or use the intense light to highlight specific elements of your composition.

8. Post-processing magic

Even with the best techniques, sometimes the sun’s harshness is unavoidable. This is where post-processing comes in. Use photo editing software to adjust exposure, balance highlights and shadows, and enhance colors. Tools like Lightroom and Photoshop offer extensive features to fine-tune your photos and bring out their best qualities.

9. Hydrate and protect yourself

Lastly, don’t forget to take care of yourself while shooting in the summer sun. Stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, and take breaks in the shade. A healthy and comfortable photographer is more likely to be creative and capture great shots.


Taking photos in the harsh summer sun can be challenging, but with the right techniques, you can turn even the brightest day into a perfect photo opportunity. By using the golden hours, finding or creating shade, adjusting your camera settings, and embracing both natural light and shadows, you’ll be well on your way to capturing stunning summer memories. Happy shooting!

Written by AI

Photo by Daoudi Aissa on Unsplash