I can’t believe it’s finally time for part three of my series How to Take Better Pictures! We’ve already gone over picking the best camera and some basic manual settings, and today we’re covering lighting. Before taking the Amy and Jordan Shooting and Editing Course (< affiliate link), I had no idea how much lighting affected the pictures I took. I just thought sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don’t during a photoshoot. Turns out that was not true at all! And today I’m here to help you figure out how to find the *perfect* lighting for your pictures.
1. Shoot in natural light (if you have the ability).
This is SUCH a big thing. There’s nothing like the natural look of… natural light! I personally don’t like artificial light, but I know sometimes you just have to work with it. When the room is dark (like during a wedding reception or newborn session), I bounce the flash off the ceiling or wall behind me so it adds light to the room without washing out the subjects. However, most of my portrait sessions and pictures I take of my kids are done in natural light!
How do you get natural light?
Go outside! When it’s super cold, or I’m doing an indoor session, though, I find the place with the biggest windows and most light coming through and work with that space. Reflectors (like these) are also a HUGE help, and allow me to get even light even if the main light source is coming from an odd angle. If you have a flash you can turn, flip it up and around so it bounces off the wall/ceiling behind you. And I also love using a flash diffuser to avoid harsh light hitting my clients!
2. Look for open shade and even lighting.
This is a biggie. Open shade means your subject is standing in the shade, but if they look up, they’ll see sky and not a ceiling above them. This prevents the shade from being too harsh and dark, and allows you to still get light and airy pictures with even lighting on the subject. My main priority is to make sure whoever or whatever I’m photographing is evenly lit from head to toe.
Looking back at old pictures I’ve taken, I can definitely see how having uneven light on the subjects totally changes the quality of a picture! When you are able to get even light by using open shade, the pictures immediately look more professional.
Ideas for open shade:
Under a tree (Just make sure their BACKS are towards the light source so the front of them is in even shadow)
Next to a gazebo
Under the shade of a bridge
Next to a building
Close to a tree line
You get the idea : )
3. Take your pictures in the morning or evening.
When deciding on what time to take pictures, I recommend aiming for the morning hours or the evening. During the middle of the day, the sun is high and harsh, which makes it harder to get even light. The closer it is to the horizon, the easier it is to find open shade and to put the sun behind your subjects so their faces are evenly shaded.
I know sometimes it’s hard to take pictures at the *perfect* time of day, but when you can, you’ll see the difference it makes!
Early morning light:
And there you have it! I hope you’ve enjoyed my three part series on taking better pictures. It’s been so fun for me to get to share some of the things I’ve learned in my time of being a professional photographer, and I hope you can use the information to help make your pictures even better!
Liked this series? Leave me ideas below for another series you’d like to see!
Have any questions? Let me know in the comments! : )
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