This image at right would not have bee possible without a diffuser. Without a diffuser I doubt she would have even been able to open her eyes, and the last thing you want when doing portraits is squinty eyes. But with a diffuser the harsh sunlight was softened and evenly dispersed across the subject.
This image on the left did not use a diffuser but a reflector. You probably can tell that the sun was at her back. It made for the perfect rim light, but I needed a source of front light in order to expose her face properly. In this case we used a large reflector. I think this one was maybe a white reflector, but you can use silver for a cooler light, or gold for a warmer light. If you look at the large version of the image you'll see a nice catch light in her eyes. That's the reflector. Hopefully you can tell that the reflector was off to the right of my camera, illuminating the right side of her face. I liked this lighting situation very much.
Different lighting situation altogether. In this image at right the model was in complete shade, which left enough ambient light to pick up all the detail but maybe not quite enough to light her face. In this case we used a strobe in a small softbox. The strobe was set to a very low setting--not so strong as to overexpose anything, but just enough to balance things out. The softbox gently diffused the light. Again, notice the catch light in her eyes. Lovely.
Two more backlit images using reflectors.
A shoot like this is so much easier when you have people helping out by holding up diffusers or reflectors, or moving light stands into place and making adjustments while you shoot. That's certainly the ideal situation. More often than not I'm on my own at a shoot, which tends to make me lazy. I think, this shot will be just fine without a reflector and if I need to fix anything I'll do it in post. But we all know the truth: the image will be so much better if I just take the time to set up my reflector on a stand, or put a strobe up in a portable softbox. It's more effort, for sure, but when I pull up those images in Photoshop I'm so glad I took the time.
Fun shoot, good result. Snap on, snappers!