In the middle of the afternoon, the light for photography can be challenging because it produces very harsh specular highlights and deep shadows. For example, the image below was taken in full sun.
To help solve this problem you could move your subject in to some open shade, for an image like the one below. The light is softer and more flattering but lacks a little punch. Also there is no light in here eyes.
Another technique we can try is to use some diffusion material to soften the direct sunlight. You can see in the image below how the diffusion panel softens the light and adds a small catch light in the corner of her eyes.
In the final image, I will continue using the diffusion panel to camera left, and I will add a reflector to camera right to bounce some sunlight back on to the subject. Notice the extra catch light in here eyes.
In my opinion, image 3 and 4 produced the best results. This technique for controlling light can be used for many types of subjects, not just portraits. For example this would also work well for shooting flowers. Post in the comments below if you can think of any other uses for a diffusion panel and reflector setup. Please give this a try and let me know what you think of the results.