The most frequented questions I get are about backlit/sunset photos! It's something I do a lot and something I love so I always love talking about it. So today I thought I would share some of my most useful tips with everyone. If you have any questions or need me to elaborate more, just leave me a comment!
USING A REFLECTOR
Provided that your subject is against the sun, using a reflector, especially when the sun is a little high in the sky, DRASTICALLY changes the look of your image. I think it brings out a more professional side to your image. It also helps you get both your subject and the background exposed correctly. When you are shooting against the sun, sometimes your subject will be too dark, or a silhouette. This is perfect for those situations.
SHOOT MANUAL & USE LOW APERTURES
My advice would be to always shoot in manual mode. As intimidating as it may seem sometimes (believe me, I know) it is very simple to learn the main manual settings of your camera. This will HEAVILY improve the quality, look and the customization of your images. Shooting in low apertures helps bring out that lovely glowy/hazy look. One more thing to keep in mind, no matter what is in the background, set your camera to expose for your subjects face. As long as their face is lit up enough, than the background will probably look good too.
WAIT FOR THAT ORANGE LIGHT
Right before sunset, the light becomes magical and gives off such a warm glow. This is my favorite time to shoot. If you are looking for that beachy/summer look, it's the perfect time to photograph your subject. One key to getting your light perfect is to have the sun off to the side of your subject. If your subject is straight behind the sun, you might not get that hazy look. Play around with it. There is no direct wrong or right way to get it perfect. Practice makes perfect ;)
If your DSLR has this option, use it! Basically it allows you to view your image on the screen instead of using just the viewfinder for setting up your image. It's a big help when shooting into the sun and it can definitely help you find the right angles for the hazy look & sunflares! Sunflares can be difficult to grab sometimes. I find this helps me best when I'm going for this look.
FIND A PLACE WHERE THE SUN IS STREAMING THROUGH
If you see the sun streaming through the trees, or down a street corner, go chase it! Full on light can be hard to manage sometimes, but if it is seeping through a spot in a wall or through a gap in a door, it may be even more striking than an empty field at sunset.
KEEP TRYING NEW THINGS
Try new angles, try new techniques, try different times of the day, play with the sun at every angle and see what you like most! I shoot up to 2 hours before complete sunset and I usually like the results. See what works best for you!