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Quick Tips On How To Photograph A Bride In Harsh Sunlight With Kevin Jairaj

By Hanssie on October 9th 2015

As a photographer, it is your job to be able to make amazing images in any situation. Whether you’re facing terrible lighting conditions or an ugly location, you need to think outside of the box and get creative. A while back, I interviewed photographer Kevin Jairaj after his coverage of the Sochi Olympics, where he shared how he balances wedding, sports, and celebrity photography. Recently, Kevin was named the official photographer for the New College Football Playoff and his first book, “Stylish Weddings – Create Dramatic Wedding Photography in any Setting” will be released next month (more on that later).

I’ve asked Kevin to give us a few quick tips on shooting in any situation from his upcoming book, and he shared with us how he photographs brides in the middle of the day in harsh sunlight.



As wedding photographers, we sometimes (often, most times), do not have a say in the wedding day schedule.  This sometimes puts us shooting in the worst possible light. In the following shot, I purposely photographed this bride in the worst time of day (about 1pm) on a bright and sunny day, to demonstrate how I like to overpower the ambient light with my strobes.  In the following images, I use the Profoto D1 Air Units, (since then I’ve switched to the B1 Wireless units or the Pro B4 generator) set to full power. I’m shooting at around f18-f20 so that the sun will have no effect on the photo. I always have a strobe in my kit just in case this pops up during the wedding day.

The quick video below was taken by my assistant to show just how bad the lighting conditions were that day.


In addition to the strobes, I like to shoot with the sun at some sort of angle BEHIND my subjects.  This ensures that I will get some nice backlighting to highlight the arms or the subject’s hair.  It also is great because there is no need to use a second strobe in the back and makes it much easier to set up and breakdown.  My main light is usually either a beauty dish or an assistant held softbox, and it is opposite the direction of the sun in front of the subject.  In these images, the main light is to camera left with the sun behind the bride to camera right.

I always have my subjects turn and face my main light so their face will be properly lit. That way the sun will act as only a rim light and not cause any unwanted shadows.  Try this if you have not before. You can really create some amazing portraits!


Thanks for sharing your technique, Kevin!

As mentioned above, Kevin’s book,“Stylish Weddings” – Create Dramatic Wedding Photography in any Setting, will be released next month. Those that purchase the book will be added to a private Facebook community where Kevin himself will mentor you. After you purchase the book, email your receipt to

The book can be preordered now at a discounted price. It will be sold online as well as at retailers everywhere like Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. starting on November 10, 2015. You can preorder it on Amazon here.


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Hanssie is a Southern California-based writer and sometimes portrait and wedding photographer. In her free time, she homeschools, works out, rescues dogs and works in marketing for SLR Lounge. She also blogs about her adventures and about fitness when she’s not sick of writing so much. Check out her work and her blog at Follow her on Instagram

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ian Johnstone

    How to deal with crappy sunlight” -first spend thousands of dollars on profoto gear…………………???

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  2. Richard Bremer

    This is a time intensive and money intensive solution, but with the results to show for it. I think I’d be happier with a low cost solution of a bounce screen or two to add or subtract light. It won’t “fix” the background, but I think it would be the easier solution. Apart from that, this is definitly a solution worth considering!

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  3. Robert Marriott

    using the flash fill all depends on how much time you have during the day, time for setting it all up and the location.

    I’ve never used Flash Fill to be honest, I use natural light to get my reasults, but we all have our different ways of getting results ?

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  4. Stephen Patterson

    Beautiful photo’s, great tip, now just to find $10,000 for one light

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