Sharon Elizabeth Photography
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Shooting with sunflare

think one of the top questions I get asked during workshops and mentoring is how I get my images so creamy without them being completely blown out with sunflare!!! 
And that's a great question -- and for years I had no actual 'concept' of light.. I didn't know how to see it... how to look for it.. and 'what light was best for what'...  
So I hope these tips and photos will help you shorten that time span of 'having no idea'!!!! 
The VERY first thing you must understand is that there are different kinds of light... and these different kinds of light can produce different kinds of looks. 
When I first started playing around with sunflare... I would put my client out in the field with the sun to their back.. and I'd shoot.. 
That was it. 
And what I ended up with -- were photos like this..
Now don't get me wrong... I believe there is a time and place where a shot like this can totally work... but EVERY single shot in your client's session should not look like this (at least in my opinion).... Not only did I have to really bring back the blacks/contrast in this photo -- but there's also a huge flare on her face... that's not cute!!!! "Hi look at this photo of my daughter and I... and our sweet sunflare... my cheek always looks like that" 
When I started realizing I didn't like how washed out my photos were looking and how I was losing so much sharpness by shooting this way -- I added in a reflector.... So here's a shot without a reflector... I still love this photo -- mostly because of April and that pink flare... BUT... look at how muddy it is!!!
And for this shot... I added in a reflector (shot at the same location as the photo above) while shooting in full sun...
And here... you can see the sun is almost at it's setting point and I'm using trees in the background to 'diffuse' the sun... so the sun is very low and a lot softer.. I'm also use a reflector to camera left.
After this session -- which I think was 2011/2012?!!?!? I really started to pay attention to what I was doing... mind you, I'm sure I still made mistakes.. but it was really starting to click for me... I quickly realized I didn't want that drenched in sunlight look... I wanted creamy photos with the sun in them... but I didn't want the sun to take over my subject... and the way I was shooting - that's exactly what was happening...  
Look at these for example... they have the potential to be great shots -- but to me they're so faded and washed out looking!!!!
You're welcome ladies....
And now -- having more control over how I'm using available light allows me to get better - sharper images.
Being smarter about HOW much sun I put in my frame and HOW I put the sun in my frame -- makes a huge difference.
I'm able to USE the sun to my advantage vs working AGAINST the sun!!!
So I know that was a TON of 'photo talk' -- but hopefully SEEING what I was talking about helped!!! Now on for a few of my shooting tips for getting better 'sunflare' photos =) 
1. Put SOMETHING between your subject and the sun - ESPECIALLY if it's still bright out and the sun is still harsh... this can be anything from trees - the corner of a building... use your imagination. 
2. Don't feel the need to put the ENTIRE sun in your photo... that's what I used to do... but NOW -- I use only the 'rays' from the sun vs the actual sun.. that's the number one way I get that 'creamy haze' in my photos. 
3. Have your subject stand in the sun facing away from it (back to sun) -- shoot in a way where there is something between your subject and the sun -- and YOU stand in the shade.... that way you can still have RIM light -- which helps give your photo depth and that added pop.... WITHOUT having the photo blown out... Your photos are blown out because all of that sunlight is hitting your lens... And have you ever had an issue trying to focus when shooting this way -- there's your answer. 
4. Use a reflector -- at least this way if you definitely want to shoot in the sun -- you can add some fill light back onto your subject... ensuring it doesn't end up blown out and lose details/contrast! (assuming your exposure is right... hehe) 
5. Wait until the sun is super low and soft! 
6. Use your lens hood -- not only does it protect your lens, but it also protects it from having any unwanted light hit your lens. 
7. If you don't have any shade but still want this look -- use your hand to block the sun from hitting your lens, or have an assistant do this for you!!! 
8. IGNORE ALL OF THESE RULES if you are sure you have the PERFECT shot for a sun-drenched - washed out look... because like I said.. there's a time and a place for it... art is subjective - so do your thing!!!! =) 
9. I feel bad for not having two more tips. 
10. HAVE FUN... Hope this helpsssss <3