Portrait photography using Reflectors
A sunny day doesn't necessarily mean a good day for photography. I learnt this the hard way. When the sun is at it's peak, the shadows that it can cast on the subject's face are hard and unpleasant.
Furthermore, when looking into the sun, the subject ends up having to fight the urge to shut their eyes and end up squinting. Also not ideal for a portrait picture.
What can you do?
There are a couple of solutions to this problem but I'll keep it limited to two basic solutions.
Solution 1: Shoot during the Golden hour
Ideally, you should be aiming at doing photography during the gold hour. This is when the sun is about to set or is about to rise. An hour or so before this time, the sun provides perfectly soft lighting that helps to make everything look beautiful. In such situations you can capture beautiful portraits and even silhouettes that are pleasing and offer a nice warm glow to the overall picture.
Subjects can also be facing the sun and they will not end up squinting, also there will be no real shadows under the nose or neck, giving you the perfect opportunity to shoot portraits without having to use any artificial lighting or complex setups.
By the way, this is also the best time to do street photography.
Solution 2: Artificial lights to compensate hard sunlight
However, if doing photography during the golden hour is not feasible for any reason whatsoever, then the best alternative is to avoid shooting the subject in direct sunlight. Face the subject with the sun behind them and use artificial lighting to compensate for the under exposure of the face.
Now here you have two options
1. You could either use a reflector to bounce the light back on to the subject or
2. Shoot in the shade and compensate the under exposure using artificial lighting from an on camera flash, off camera flash or a strobe.
The video below talks about using a reflector to get the job done. I highly recommend this approach for the main reason that it is easy to do and simple to set up, while at the same time being relatively inexpensive.
The difference is very evident and makes the little effort all the more worthwhile. Try it out and let me know how it worked for you. Keep in mind that sometimes, finding the right angle to bounce the light back onto the subject takes a bit of practice and if it's windy outside, then getting your assistant to hold the reflector steady can be a challenge on its own.