Master Harsh Natural Light Photography

Let’s unpack it together in this photography tutorial.

Video tutorial for how to take photos in harsh natural light

Home / Photography Tutorials / Master Harsh Natural Light Photography

Master Harsh Natural Light Photography

Learn how to take amazing photos with this harsh natural lighting tutorial

Chances are as a photographer, you don’t always get to pick the perfect lighting conditions for your shoots. Learning how to work in less than ideal conditions is essential in developing your skills and improving your photography. The cool part is, even harsh noon day sun can create amazing photos. You just need to know how to use harsh light to your advantage.

In this tutorial, Kayleigh June shares the benefits of shooting in harsh midday light and how you can actually use it to your advantage in certain situations.

Why you should use harsh natural light to take photos!

Strong midday natural light is not known for being the most flattering and is often quite harsh leading many photographers to actively avoid shoots at this time of day.

But there are advantages that can enhance your images! 

And it can be specifically useful for outdoor beauty photography/potrait shots.

Here are some of the upsides to shooting in harsh midday light!


Using Harsh Natural Light Benefit #1: Creates Interesting Shadows

Shadows caused by midday outdoor light are typically seen as unflattering, however there are ways to turn this into your advantage as well

For example, you can use this to put shadows onto a surface to create an interesting pattern, like a leaf shadow or other textures from cool angles.

Try this in midday light, using the natural elements to cast interesting shadows across your composition!

Harsh natural light creates interesting shadows in photos


Using Harsh Natural Light Benefit #2: Can Give Skin a Great ‘Glow’

Getting shots with great glow on a model’s skin from lighting is something you want especially when doing make up or skin product shots.

This effect is produced very naturally and effectively in bright mid day light and can create an effect that is difficult to reproduce in a studio.

This bright light will highlight and display make up/foundation on a face beautifly if you get the angle just right.

It will illuminate the skin tone and make it look fresh and natural.

Use natural light for great skin glow

Using Harsh Natural Light Benefit #3: Retains Textured Details in Skin Tones

Texture (details that visually describe how something physically feels) for the skin is good for beauty photography.

Getting plenty of texture when photographing helps reduce the amount of re touching needed in post shoot editing.

You want sharpness and detail involved with beauty photography, and bright midday sun helps capture this when you get shots with the right angle.

Harsh natural light gives great skin texture and details


Using Harsh Natural Light Benefit #4: Illuminates the Eyes in a Beautiful Way

You do need to be careful with this one.

You don’t want to blind your models by making them stare at the sun. But you need to direct how the model rases their face up to the sun.

Try angling the shot in a way that can illuminate their eyes without them staring into the sun.

When done will this creates a very cool illuminating effect of their eyes that is difficult to reproduce in the studio!

Harsh natural light illuminates the eyes beautifully


Using Harsh Light Benefit #5: Enhances Different Types of Makeup Styles

Different make up styles look better in different lighting set ups/situations and not every style will work with midday light.

Certain styles though really come to life in this light.

Any thing that catches the light and really shows that detail on the skin, specifically glitter textures, really works in this lighting.

Textures are enhanced in this light so a make up style that has a lot of texture will come to life even more.

Harsh midday lighting creates great makeup enhancements in photos


Getting better at working with this harsh and often unruly lighting will help you with your photoshoots!

If you’re able to work with all sorts of weather conditions you can maximise the time that you have on your shoots.

Also there are some effects that really can’t be captured the same with out it!

Want to improve your photography skills? Check out this full photography skill guide!


Which of these harsh lighting tips will you use the next time you’re taking midday photos?

Comment below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Explore Presets & Marketing Templates!

Find Your Perfect Edit + Get More Clients!

  • Original price was: $1,087.00.Current price is: $97.00.
    View More
  • Preview of the Lightroom AI Engine Presets
    View More
  • $75.00
    View More
  • Downloadable Lightroom classic basic brush kit - a bundle of Lightroom brush presets
    View More
  • Preview of the Dramatic Black Presets for Lightroom
    View More
  • Preview of the Bright White Presets for Lightroom
    View More
  • A preview of the Summer Presets for Lightroom
    View More
  • Preview of Natural Lightroom Preset Collection
    View More
  • $499.00
    View More
  • Fully customisable Photography business Invoice template
    View More
  • 2 Page Wedding photography price list template for photographers
    View More
  • Wedding timeline client guide for photographers - beautiful canva design template
    View More
  • Magazine style Newborn photography client guide Canva Template
    View More
  • Clean and Stylish Boudoir photography session guide template you can edit in Canva
    View More
  • Fully customisable Boudoir Photography Guide Template for Canva
    View More
  • A stylish magazine style pdf of Engagement Photoshoot client guide template
    View More