Photo shoot in bright sunshine

Fitness photo shoot.

I did a fitness photo shoot on location with Yollanda Musa. We worked outdoors in brilliant bright sunshine. It was a truly gorgeous day.

As I write these words (beginning of September 2020) my studio is still closed for photo shoots because of the coronavirus lockdown. However I am able to do photo shoots safely outdoors. There are some beautiful locations for photo shoots in the Kingston upon Thames area, and further afield in Surrey too.

In South East England we have had some very hot and sunny weather this summer. At least by British standards! This has provided a number of opportunities to do a photo shoot in bright sunshine.

Photo shoot in bright sunshine

Bright sunshine presents challenges and opportunities to portrait photographers.

The main challenge is that the sun creates very strong shadows, with hard edges and massive contrast. Also, if someone is facing towards the sun they will almost certainly have to squint their eyes. For these two reasons it is easier to get good results if the subject’s face is not lit directly by the sunhine (having said which it can be possible to take good photos of someone whose face is lit by direct sunshine, but that is not the purpose of this blog post).

So if you are a photographer, how can you face the challenge of doing a photo shoot in bright sunshine? One way to deal with it is to keep faces out of the sunshine.

You will notice that Yolly has her back to the sun in all these photos. It was a very bright sunny day, but there were some clouds and occasionally the sun would disappear behind a cloud. I wanted to edit the photos in a way that would convey an impression of what a bright sunny day it was.

A green colour caste

Bright sunshine on grass (and other greenery) effectively turns the ground into a source of green light, and this gives a green cast to anything the light touches. It is particularly apparent on surfaces that face the ground, especially because they are shadowed from other light sources. I edited some of the photos to reduce the effect of this green reflection, but I have not removed it totally because that would not look right. Our brains are accustomed to seeing this green caste in these conditions.

Do I ever cancel photo shoots because it is too hot?

Until recently the answer to that question would have been “no”. Rain never really takes one by surprise in England, but I don’t expect to cancel a photo shoot because it is too hot!

However a few weeks ago I did postpone a photo shoot because it was hot! I did not do this unilaterally of course. I was booked for a family and baby photo shoot outdoors, and the parents totally agreed with me that it was too hot to capture photos of the baby and little boy looking happy. That is the only time I have ever cancelled a photo shoot because it was too hot. We have had some very hot weather this summer by UK standards (34 degrees C).

Yollanda Musa wanted some athletic fitness shots

Yollanda Musa is a very beautiful black model. Anyone who follows my work knows that Yolly is my photographic muse, and we have worked together many times.

Yolly has started her own fitness pages on facebook and instagram (see links below), and she needed some fitness photos. I have already published one blog post from this photo shoot.

Working safely in the coronavirus pandemic

As I write these words I still haven’t opened my studio for photo shoots. However “social distancing” is not a problem when you work outdoors on location. What I did find slightly problematic was the temptation to keep showing Yolly the photos on the back of the camera! Although we were both pretty confident we haven’t been infected with the new SARS-CoV-2 virus, we wanted to be totally professional and work safely. So on the occasions we did look at the photos on the back of the camera, it was a question of doing it at arms length while holding one’s breath!

Technical aspects

I had two aims for this photo shoot; one was to be highly mobile, and the other was to shoot using a wide apperture in order to blur the background.

Because I wanted to be mobile I was working with minimal kit. I carried a single camera (on a strap without a tripod) with a speedlight attached.

In order to blur the background I was using a large aperture. I think all the photos in this gallery were taken at F2.8. With bright sunshine this means shutter speeds can be very fast. So I shot with natural light, and used the speedlight to throw in a little fill light as necessary.

For those of you who really want to know, the camera was the Nikon D850, the speedlight was the Nikon SB900, the lens was the AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR.

My muse Yollanda Musa

Yollanda is a very beautiful black model, and she is very athletic. If you want to hire Yollanda for photo shoots you can contact her via her facebook modelling page. If you want to get fit with her, check out her instagram modelling page;

Yollanda’s facebook modelling page

Yollanda’s instagram fitness page (called “monyaress”)

Yollanda’s instgram modelling page