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Use the sun to make better pictures 

click to enlarge I began photographing Devon and Parker's engagement sitting at Mount Falcon Park in the early evening. Right off the bat, the sun was doing some wonderful things. Here I photographed into the sun creating a flattering picture and allowing the sun to highlight them. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • I began photographing Devon and Parker's engagement sitting at Mount Falcon Park in the early evening. Right off the bat, the sun was doing some wonderful things. Here I photographed into the sun creating a flattering picture and allowing the sun to highlight them.
One of the best times of year is to photograph starts right now. For the next four weeks in Colorado, the weather is perfect (usually) and the late day sunshine is truly a thing of beauty.

I love photographing couples and families during this special time of year. And it's the sun that helps make the photographs so wonderful. Here are four tips for using the sun to make great pictures, especially now.
click to enlarge Using the same spot, I simply turned Devon towards Parker and allowed the sun to create a flattering profile. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Using the same spot, I simply turned Devon towards Parker and allowed the sun to create a flattering profile.
#1 Shoot in the early evening
I love to shoot during the last two hours of the day. The sun during this time is constantly changing. The quality of the light just gets better and better. I can start by making rim lit photographs of my subject and work towards dramatic silhouettes and soft glowing portraits as the sun gets closer and closer to the horizon.
click to enlarge Ahh, this image of Devon and Park is absolutely yummy. As it began to set, the sun started creating texture, a pleasing combination of light and shadow. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • Ahh, this image of Devon and Park is absolutely yummy. As it began to set, the sun started creating texture, a pleasing combination of light and shadow.
#2 Shoot into the sun
It sounds wrong, but it's so right. Shooting into the sun, especially late in the day, can create dramatic and pleasing portraits of your subjects. There is the added benefit for your subjects since they won't be squinting. Your challenge, however, is the photograph in such a way as to avoid flare in your pictures. I use my hat to shade my lens. But sometimes I incorporate the flare. It just looks cool! 
click to enlarge We began walking toward an outcrop and I wanted a send of fun. I asked Devon to grab Parker's hand a made a pleasing action shot. Notice that I'm using Parker to shade my lens from the sun to avoid any flare. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • We began walking toward an outcrop and I wanted a send of fun. I asked Devon to grab Parker's hand a made a pleasing action shot. Notice that I'm using Parker to shade my lens from the sun to avoid any flare.

#3 Use the light to create texture in your photographs
As the sun lowers, it creates long shadows along the landscape. Landscape photographers create texture all of the time. It's one of the best qualities in a dramatic landscape photograph. But it's rarely appreciated in portrait photography. Great texture in a photograph is, to put it simply, a pleasing combination of light and shadow carefully arranged. Look for it the next time you're taking pictures of people. It can really put a spark into your photographs.
click to enlarge We made it to the outcropping just as the sun began to set. All I needed to do here was frame the shot and the camera did the rest creating a dramatic silhouette of Devon and Parker. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • We made it to the outcropping just as the sun began to set. All I needed to do here was frame the shot and the camera did the rest creating a dramatic silhouette of Devon and Parker.

#4 Use light to create dramatic silhouettes
Lastly, I love shooting silhouettes. Talk about creating a mood. There is no better way to create drama that shooting a silhouette. Late in the day is the perfect time for this technique. The best part is you don't have to be a camera geek to take this picture. Just frame your subject point and shoot. The camera does the rest.
click to enlarge After several frames, I allowed the sun to make and appearance and the slight flare made the shot even more dramatic. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • After several frames, I allowed the sun to make and appearance and the slight flare made the shot even more dramatic.

To illustrate I've included pictures from Devon and Parker's engagement sitting photographed in the late evening at Mount Falcon Park. Enjoy!
click to enlarge This final lovely portrait uses the last light of the sun as a catch light in Devon and Parker's eyes. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • This final lovely portrait uses the last light of the sun as a catch light in Devon and Parker's eyes.
click to enlarge As the sun began getting lower in the sky, I asked Devon and Parker to sit in the grass. Using my had to shade my lens, I made this image. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • As the sun began getting lower in the sky, I asked Devon and Parker to sit in the grass. Using my had to shade my lens, I made this image.
click to enlarge As the sun began to disappear, an orange glow covered the two of them and I had them turn in a ways so that I could get that onto their faces. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • As the sun began to disappear, an orange glow covered the two of them and I had them turn in a ways so that I could get that onto their faces.
click to enlarge This final lovely portrait uses the last light of the sun as a catch light in Devon and Parker's eyes. - SEAN CAYTON
  • Sean Cayton
  • This final lovely portrait uses the last light of the sun as a catch light in Devon and Parker's eyes.

Sean Cayton is a wedding photojournalist of 19 years and operates a successful, award-winning wedding photography studio in Colorado Springs. He's also an award-winning photojournalist. Sean is happily married to the love of his life (also his business partner) and is father to three beautiful children. When he’s not working, Sean can be found outside flying kites with his kids, hitting golf balls or casting a fly rod to hungry trout.

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