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Never at Noon! - Portrait Photography

When taking a photograph, light can make or break the image. Light is undeniably one of the most fundamental parts of photography. Photography is defined by Merriam-Webster as being “the art or process of producing images by the action of radiant energy and especially light on a sensitive surface”. Photographs are created with light and utilise light within them. As such, light is a crucial feature of photography. But just because it is so integral to photography and elemental in concept does not mean it is easy to understand in theory and application! Great light can look like a lot of things, and many people use light flawlessly to technically perfect standards. Others play with it to create unique and creative shots. However, light can just as easily break an image. A photograph with bad lighting has some tell-tale signs, namely, too much contrast, an abundance of harsh shadows and over exposure! These are all symptoms of what can happen when you shoot with light that is too bright and direct, such as the sun light at high noon. Let’s explore the three big issues of shooting in intense lighting and why we say “Never at Noon!”.

1. Shadows

At noon the sun is at its highest point in the sky and it is when the light is at its brightest and most direct. When light hits us in this intensity it creates quite harsh and unflattering shadows. These show up especially well on photographs where the shadows can contour your models face in uncomplimentary ways. The harsh light does not soften the skin, it instead highlights texture and imperfections in it. It is also really hard to work with such contrasting light as a photographer because the light is not even across the frame and so it is hard to take an accurate light reading. This often results in parts of the image becoming under or over exposed. The best thing to do is to avoid shooting in light that creates these harsh and unfavourable shadows when you can, but second to that, do anything you can to diffuse the light in some way.


Below is an example of a photo taken at noon, when the sun light is at its highest point, As you can see the sunlight is creating some heavy shadows under their eyes and other parts of their faces and making them squint.