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.
How to Take Better Pictures
Part 3: Lighting
1. ALWAYS 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 at ALL. I don’t use off camera flash (yet, at least) and only use an on camera flash when I am shooting in a dark wedding reception room. I’ve always loved the look of natural light and incorporate it into almost every portrait session I do.
How do you get natural light?
Well… 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.
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 (something you’ll learn very quickly in A&J’s course) and secondly if the ground around my subjects is evenly lit.
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 (although this can lend to spotty backgrounds, which I don’t mind so much. 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 treeline
You get the idea : )
3. Use an ExpoDisc.
The ExpoDisc helps SO much in securing the right white balance in your pictures. Because you may be using natural light and have open shade with even lighting, but if your white balance is off, none of those things will really matter. For the longest time I just relied on my camera’s automatic white balance setting, but my pictures were inconsistent and I would spend SO much time in post processing to fix that. But once I started using my ExpoDisc, all those problems went away! It’s SUCH a game changer!
The steps are a little… complicated at first, but after a few sessions it came more and more naturally to me. I always have clients asking me what it’s for, and it’s fun to explain how it helps calibrate my camera to get great pictures IN camera, rather than fixing pictures later. That always shocks them haha! Check out these videos to see how it works: Video 1 and Video 2.
I bought the biggest size ExpoDisc available to ensure it would fit over all my lenses. I just hold it over my lens so it’s completely covered and follow the steps in the video. Easy peasy, y’all!
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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