It’s been a while since I gave out any hints, not an intentional lapse, and I will fix that now.

Summer weather in Australia is HOT and the sun is harsh – it can be very difficult to really capture the fun times without lots of images of kids and families squinting. Hardly a good look. And it’s worse on fashion models

Harsh light on a beach is absolutely NOT flattering to your subject, try and avoid it !

So, what to do?? Look for shade! Sit everyone under a tree, pop into a gazebo or rotunda in the park. What a difference this beautiful shade makes to our model here, in an image that was taken within five minutes of the one above, but instead of being out in the sun, it was in the carpark across the road. Seriously that’s a carpark!

So much more flattering when the light is soft and even, don’t you think?

It used to be a staple of photography, that the sun had to be BEHIND the photographer – who remembers looking into the sun and trying to say cheese?? erk.

My poor babies, they LOVE playing in the sun (with sunscreen), but it doesn’t make for great pictures, does it?

Two of my children taken at the park nearly 10 years ago – it was our first day with a brand new camera, and we wanted to capture my son’s first ever slippery dip ride, every moment. But Oh!! Look at those horrid raccoon eyes and squinty faces – poor little things.

See how beautiful my kids are?? I am blessed with all six of them.

Exactly the same playset, but at the top of the slippery dip on the next ride down, turn the kids around, and while the background is now almost unseeable, does it really matter??

Turn it black and white and crop a little, a touch of soft focus, and this could hang on any wall in a family home.

One of my favourite pictures ever, it hangs as a canvas on my wall, and even though it’s been nearly 15 years, I still smile when I look at it.

As you can see, Digital means you really don’t have to have squinty faces any more. Just use a lens hood when outside if you have a DSLR, (most lenses come with them, and they aren’t just to make your lens look bigger), if you aren’t using manual settings, I suggest that you point the red autofocus point on the face of one of the people in the group and shoot away – this will set the exposure for the faces, so they won’t be dark shadows, but it DOES mean that the background will be VERY bright or ‘blown out’. Horrid Harsh shadows across the faces, and the ‘raccoon eyes’ will be avoided with just these two steps, and the “backlight’ effect will really enhance hair, as seen in the image below.

My wonderfully creative and brave model just jumped into the surf, it’s LOVELY!

So, there it is, how to avoid squinty dark pictures outdoors in the Australian summer, all of the tips that have been mentioned will work with any sort of camera, even a phone camera.

These beach images were created as part of a collaboration for the Hunter Creative Network with the amazing hair and makeup talents of Belinda Davidson (instagram @belindadavidsonmua) on the totally gorgeous Alycia Growden (Instagram @Lish_91) with a couture gown that I found in an op shop, my favourite place for creative finds.

Have fun, and don’t forget the sunscreen!