How to Photograph Someone in Front of a Bright Background


Photography is an art that requires a broad skill set. Varying conditions must be taken into consideration when taking a photograph. One scenario you should be prepared for is shooting a subject in front of a bright background. This will cause your subject to turn out very dark, possibly creating a silhouette. If you want your subject properly lit, it is important to know how to adjust your camera settings manually to compensate for the varying light, because we don't always have a flash handy.

  • Switch your to M on the dial for manual mode. This will prevent the camera from auto-adjusting the light settings, which will cause a dark subject in this situation.

  • Set your shutter speed to 500. The shutter speed controls how long light is allowed into the camera. At the 500 setting, you are letting light into your camera for 1/500 of a second. This is a good starting place because it will be quick enough to freeze any movement on the frame. Playing with your shutter speed leads into other techniques.

  • Set your aperture appropriately so your light meter shows you have correct exposure settings. At this setting, the bright background will be exposed properly, but your subject will still be too dark.

  • Adjust your aperture one stop higher so your light meter tells you you're over exposing the image. This will allow the subject to be properly exposed, despite the bright background.

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  • Photo Credit old camera image by Rich Johnson from
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