One of the things I’m bad at is sharing advice in a broader public forum. I love sharing advice, but sometimes I respond just to one person at a time. I’m going to try to start sharing bits a bit more broadly.
This morning, someone on a photography list I’m on asked:
“I’ve been asked to do an outdoor shoot for a friend…what equipment do I need for something like this, and what do I need to keep in mind?”
My advice back was:
First, an outdoor shoot of what? Portraits, cars, landscapes?
Secondly, just like indoor shoots, the key to outdoor shoots is lighting, and controlling the light. The hard part, of course, is that can’t have direct control over the brightest light source – the sun. General guidelines are that shooting in bright sun at high noon is pretty tough, and the golden hours can be great for this; but shooting in late morning or early afternoon is doable, but equipment-wise, you may want to make use of sunshades and sun reflectors (and/or strobes) for fill lighting. I found even a small reflector can help tremendously at changing around the light on the subject; strobes in sun, for me, require a lot of trial and error, and I found a reflector was easier to visualize.
Obviously, too – don’t shoot into the sun; that will wildly exacerbate the dynamic-range problem (subjects will be in shadow, background will be very bright, and you’ll lose detail in both). Polarizers, on the other hand, can help control glare immensely, and when I’m shooting outside in sun, my polarizer almost never comes off my lens.
In general, I’d grab a reflector, a reflector caddy (aka a friend who can bounce the light for you), and a polarizer, a strobe if you have it, try to set it up for late afternoon/early evening, and give it a shot.
(As with all photography “rules” – your mileage may vary, and it is possible to get some incredible, innovative shots while blithely ignoring all the above suggestions. :)