Bright sun lighting tips!

Lighting - Kevin Kubota
The summer sun is out, birds are singing, unicorns are happily playing, and photographers are cursing the lighting! Everyone wants beautiful outdoor portraits, but the bright sun can pose a challenge to your soft, flattering light desires. I've been a wedding photographer for over 20 years and faced challenges from sunny beaches to baking hot concrete parking lots. Here are some of my full sun lighting tips.
  1. Find shade! This might seem obvious, but many photographers neglect to simply ask their client to move locations. Either they are too shy, or think the client absolutely loves their current stake of ground. If you kindly suggest to them that the light is MUCH more flattering to their faces if you move "over there", they generally oblige.
  2. Use the sun as a backlight or hair light. If you have any direction to the sun at all, meaning it's not directly overhead, then you have a potentially beautiful backlight or hair light. Just make sure the sun is not casting dark shadows on the face and then create your facial lighting with a soft, white reflector or a diffused flash. Our LunaGrip works perfect for this.
  3. Create a sun shade. If you have a larger diffusion disk of 40" or so, or better yet, a larger scrim (a translucent white fabric on a frame), then you can shade your client and create an amazing soft light. Ask an assistant, or two, to hold the diffuser overhead – or wherever the sun happens to be. Sometimes you may also want to add a reflector, or diffused flash, to complement the diffused overall light from the scrim.
  4. If you get really desperate and can't move or shade your subject, then fill flash might be your only option. I prefer to use a diffused flash instead of a direct one. This gently fills the shadows and doesn't look so snapshot like. Use a small softbox, LunaGrip, or other flash diffuser directly above your camera lens to avoid creating cross shadows. Take a test shot or two to find the right exposure balance and open up those eye sockets.

About the Image: The LunaGrip is used with a single speedlight to add beautiful lighting to the subject's face, and sparkling catchlights in her eyes. I moved her just out of the bright sun to keep her from squinting and to eliminate the harsh shadows. The LunaGrip keeps the bright, sunny day feel, but creates the perfect portrait lighting. Get a LunaGrip now on sale for under $100!

Catch Kevin on CreativeLive now!

You don't need expensive gear to
make professional quality images.
Kevin will share essential lighting concepts that will improve all of your lighting choices. You'll learn techniques you can apply to all the gear you use. Whether you use natural light, speedlights, or studio strobes, this class will show you how to augment your gear with affordable, handmade tools to get even better results.


The LunaGrip is a brand new product that quickly and easily partners your speedlight with your favorite diffusion disc to create a beautiful softbox-quality light anywhere! You can hold it with one hand to keep mobile and able to frolic through flowering fields or leap tall buildings. The LunaGrip breaks down smaller and lighter than a comparably sized softbox, is quicker to set up, and multitasks with the gear you carry with you everywhere. Store it in your camera bag so you're never without a beautiful light source. The LunaGrip is versatile and also holds reflectors flatter than a pancake for bounced light that is smooth and even. The LunaGrip can be hand-held via the luxurious, squishy handle, or mounted on a light stand via the convenient 1/4" socket – that's light stands and tripods, baby. Kevin Kubota has used this lighting trick for years in wedding and portraits sessions, and now it's easier, smoother, and better than ever. Your new best friend is available à la carte, or packaged with the recommended 40" diffuser. Pre-order your own LunaGrip now!


Tune in to this weekend for thousands in gear gifts & lighting tips!

Join Kevin Kubota and Sandy Puc as they launch the newly reimagined photography education series with a fun holiday gear, gift-giving, and lighting episode! In addition, Kevin will present a full lighting demo:
Beautiful lighting from one small bag.
Why is speedlighting so popular? For the same reason that wearing cotton underwear is better than rusty iron skivvies – they are lighter, easier to move with, and don’t cause chaffing! You can do amazing things with speedlights, if you have the secret skills and a simple collection of the right accessories.

Using live demos, Kevin's class will cover:
  • Create the three most important lighting styles with minimal equipment, in studio or on location.
  • Balance your flash with existing light for dramatic effects.
  • Learn how to take high-speed sync to the next level.
  • A simple system for metering and balancing light from multiple sources.
  • Using just ONE speedlight to dramatically enhance any images.