This year the location I picked was apparently spotted by MANY other photographers because when we pulled up there were already at least 2 dozen people in the fields taking pictures. Because I wasn't willing to go trekking around to find another good location I rolled up my sleeves and joined the crowd.
We started taking pictures at around an hour before sunset. Which is usually my favorite time of the day to take pictures but I quickly learned that I was going to have to use some tricks up my sleeve to capture a good picture because a) the sun was brutal in that wide open field and b) there were so many people in the background that I would have to somehow avoid so they didn't show up in our pictures.
Here is a picture I snapped of a few of the people we had to side-step. :) ...
On to the 3 Tricks to Taking Pictures in the open sun...
1) Use back lighting
When you are battling the sun it's never a good idea to place your subject facing the sun because then you are just going to get them squinting. Not to mention the lighting on their face will be way too harsh. So to combat this simply turn their backs toward the sun and use back lighting. (If you are unfamiliar with how to take a back lit picture check out my photography book!)
2) Get creative with how you position your subject
For example, in the 3 pictures below you can see that instead of getting close-ups of my subject I shot them at a distance with the sun to their side. That way the focus is on the entire scene and not on fact that half of their faces and bodies are slightly over exposed with harsh shadows.
Also notice in picture 2 that my focus is on the flowers and not even on the subjects who are blurred in the background.
3) Use yourself at a sunshade
I know of many photographers who bring along assistants to hold shades and reflectors in order to achieve a better photo. I'm a less-is-more sort of gal who doesn't have time to coordinate with an assistant and who doesn't like to bring along ANY extra gear so I use myself as a shade.
In the pictures below I am having my subjects face the sun and stand in my shadow so the sun isn't directly shining on them. It works nicely to give that even lighting.
You can still achieve great pictures, even in the full sun, you just have to have a few tricks up your sleeve!
And once the sun finally went down, we were able to get a few of these classic bluebonnet shots...
I think I'm going to miss Texas in the Spring...