My gosh where does the time go ... I haven't shared with you for over a month ... too long! I have been doing a number of things these last few weeks, including capturing portraits in the emerging backdrop of spring foliage and flowers!
As you take portraits of the kids going off to their proms or perhaps the grandkids playing in the yard, here are a few tips. First and foremost, avoid the bright light of the sun, because the harsh shadows it can make on your subject's face is very unflattering. There is nothing worse than squinty eyes or a frowned forehead to spoil a picture too! Actually, portraits taken outdoors are best shot on cloudy days, when the sky acts as a big softbox and provides flattering and even lighting.
Of Course, you take pictures when the moment presents itself not based on the weather, so if the conditions are sunny, seek out a bit of shade and/or position your subjects away from the direct sun; sidelight them if possible. And you know what ... the sun can be your friend too, but you need one piece of inexpensive equipment to take advantage of its warmth ... a reflector. A reflector is is a disk of fabric, it may be white, or gold, or silver (or all three in one), that can be positioned to allow you to "catch" a bit of that sunlight and shine it back on the face of the individual you're photographing. This enables you to fill in the shadows and "bathe" them in warm light!
OMG ... they're cheap and they generally do a much better job of lighting a subject outdoors compared to much more expensive lighting set-ups. Some of my very best portraits were taken only using a reflector! If there is a downside, it may be that you will likely need a helper to hold the reflector, and shine it's light on you subject. You adjust its intensity depending on the angle you position it toward the sun and/or the fabric it is made from; white creating the softest effect and gold foil creating the warmest effect. Oh, by the way, you can easily make a white reflector. Just go to the dollar store and get a 2X4 piece of white foam core.
So keep these tips in mind and try using a reflector yourself ... see how it will elevate portraits to the next level!