Photography Tips – Taking better photographs outdoors

29th January 2021

Following on from my previous blog about capturing your children at home I wanted to pass on some tips to help you with outdoor photography. You can use them in your garden or even on your next family walk. Go ahead and share all my tips with your children too, photography is a fantastic hobby to share with them.

Tips for taking better photographs outdoors

Find the light

I mentioned this in my last blog but I cannot stress this enough – Light is everything! Understanding it and knowing how to use it takes time. Natural light can be particularly tricky as you have no real control over it. The control comes from knowing what to do in various situations – A skill that I have been harnessing for over 8 years!  So please don’t expect your images to be ‘perfect’ or that you’ll know what to do straight away. In fact making mistakes and learning from them is a great way to develop new skills.

I, like many other photographers, love to shoot at Golden Hour. (This is the hour before the sun sets). The most beautiful time of day where the sun begins to descend and the light is that bit softer. Then there’s that glorious golden glow that accompanies it on a sunny evening. On these days my children now love to declare “It’s golden hour!” probably because they’ve heard me talking about it so much! I love that they notice the beauty of it.

So what do you actually do with this gorgeous light?  You can see it, the sky looks amazing and you want to get shooting. Now it’s time to play! It’s all a process and it should be fun. Experiment with where the sun is in your shot and notice the difference it makes to your images. Things to try –

  • The sun directly behind your child, with your child blocking the sun – Silhouettes and rim light – a little glowing outline to your subject.
  • The sun shining through the branches of a tree.
  • The sun just as it hits the horizon – open fields and beaches are perfect for this.
  • The sun just out of shot – catch some sunbeams if you can!

Sun glow on their hair and the sun just hitting the horizon.

equestrian photographer

Sun coming through the tree branches – amazing shadows on the ground and rim light on the pony! I positioned myself here then asked her to run in front of me.

Glorious golden glow on this summer evening. The exposure of their backs was adjusted in Lightroom.

Golden Hour is beautiful and though I may love to schedule family photo shoots for this time of day, general life doesn’t always allow for it. Especially at the moment, we grab our daily walk when we can! Plus for Spring/Summer days it falls around 8-9pm which might be when you’d like some child free time! If you love the soft flattering light of Golden Hour then you might like to try shooting early morning. During the winter this is perfect for catching some frost or having some fun with ice puddles!

The midday sun – Honestly, as a complete beginner this time of day used to scare me! So if you’re finding it tricky then you certainly aren’t alone. Midday sun can be harsh, create unwanted shadows (remember some shadows are good too!) and blow out the details in your images. Ever taken a photo of something white or lightly coloured with detail (like a white lace top) and all you can see is this bright white patch? That’s what I mean by blowing out the details. Basically the bright sun has reflected off of the surface and into your lens. Generally this can be corrected in editing but there are other ways to help your midday photos.

  • Find some shade – ideally near a sunny area rather than in the woods. A single tree, a bush, a building.
  • DSLR users – learn more about camera settings, specifically your ISO. This is all about how much light you let into your lens. Imagine it like the pupil of your eye, how it goes smaller in the light. Your ISO needs to be lower. Try 100 – 400 and see how your images change.
  • Phones – On most phones you can tap the screen and this will bring up a brightness bar, you can lower the brightness here before you take your photo. Notice how suddenly all the colours look less washed out!
  • Filter the light – my favourite natural filter is… Clouds! But you could also position yourself so that the sun shines through a tree etc.

Love a cloudy day!

Using the shade of some trees.

Ideas for your outdoor photographs – 

  • Head outside at different times of the day.
  • Let your children lead the way, follow them and shoot from behind.
  • Position yourself first, set up the shot in relation to the sun then ask your children to play or run by an area in front of you.
  • Use nature – shoot through long grass or next to flowers.


Have a question? Ask away and I’ll do my best to help you!

I’m currently running some Photo Challenges, keep an eye on Facebook and Instagram for those! I can’t wait to see all your photos. This week it is – Fun with Shadows!


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