How to Shoot Stunning Portraits Without Flash in Direct Sun (VIDEO)

We're all taught to avoid shooting outdoor portraits in direct sunlight, and some photographers shy away from using flash to fill in shadows and balance the tones. In this quick video you'll learn how to capture beautiful portraits in "bad" light" without supplemental light.

Instructor Marco Castro is a Miami-based pro who definitely has the technique down. You'll follow him in this behind-the-scenes lesson as he captures beauty portraits of a pretty model with available light. You'll pick up several powerful techniques as he shoots at the beach, on the street, and at other outdoor locations that each require a slightly different approach.

The lesson begins with a discussion of wardrobe and styling for the session, carefully matching attire and accessories to each destination. His model is experienced and he relies upon her input for this as well as later in the shoot when posing and composition come into play. Castro always treats models with respect, which is why he brings a "dressing tube" so they have privacy while changing clothes.

Now it's time to address the light, and Castro demonstrates a variety of possibilities as his model poses against a tree while directly facing the camera. Another way he collaborates with the model is showing her the photos he captures to determine which shots she prefers—an effective way to gain trust and keep a subject comfortable throughout the shoot.

Castro also reveals the gear he prefers for this type of portraiture and you'll find a complete list of his equipment in the description beneath the video. You'll also see how he often reshoots an image with a light tweak or two after hearing what the model has to say.

The shoot then moves on to other locations as Castro switches up his vantage point, camera settings, and employs a variety of other poses that work really well for his style of environmental portraiture. Sometimes all it takes to get a great shot is to have the model recline or sit on the ground. Other times including a found object or interesting foliage in the background can greatly heighten interest and help tell a story.

Another way to capture compelling portraits in bright light is to use a longer lens or move in closer for a much tighter framing. The approach requires a different types of poses, and the position of a subject's hands and her facial expressions can be extremely important.

After taking a short walk and trying a few other locations, different clothing, and appropriate techniques, the session concludes on the beach where he shoots several images with an enticing swimwear look. You can find more videos like this one by visiting Castro's popular YouTube channel.

We also strongly suggest watching the related tutorial we posted earlier that illustrates 50 quick poses for shooting alluring female portrait photographs. This one will be a big help when photographing inexperienced subjects.