Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You’re enjoying the beautiful sunshine, so you take some photos. But your images are not what you expected. the light is too harsh. Your children are squinting and there are dark shadows on their faces.

The midday sun is a tricky time for photos. The light is too harsh and the direction is unflattering.

That’s where open shade comes in.

Open shade let’s you have your cake and eat it. You get enough shade for a soft, even light on your child’s face, but enough light that they are well lit and have catch lights in their eyes.

It’s like Goldilocks shade. Not too sunny, not too shady.

How to Find Open Shade

To find open shade, look for objects that cause shade such as buildings. Trees can work too, but be aware that the light is not dappled as this is not flattering on faces.

In bright sunlight you’ll see the line on the ground between the shade and the light.

We want our subject to be in the shade, but facing the light.

Have your subject stand on the line between the shade and the light, facing into the light.

You’ll see the harsh shadows on their face. Get them to step back into the shade, just enough so that the shadows disappear and the light is even.

Don’t let them step too far into the shade as then there will not be enough light on them.

You’ll notice the difference when they step into the shade and the shadows disappear, it’s pretty cool! I did this with a class I was teaching to beginners recently, and when they saw the difference, they all let out a collective “ah ha!”. I love it when little tricks like this make such a big difference.

Give it a try next time you are in bright sunlight, you’ll be amazed by the difference.

Share your results with us using hashtag #mamacameraclub. I can’t wait to see your images!