Hey photographers, I got news for you.
Your gear doesn’t matter, I’ve said it before. Your background doesn’t matter. Want to know what does? Light.
Lighting is hands down the number one most important factor of good photos. As a matter of fact, everything that has to do with the technical side of photography has to do with light.
Aperture? How much light you let in. Shutter Speed? How fast you let that light in. ISO? The amount of light available. And if you are a photographer who hasn’t master the exposure triangle, I got you. You can learn the basics of about understanding aperture, shutter speed, ISO and how they all come together in my past blog posts.
But it’s true! Lighting is the MOST important.
So, as much as I would love to teach you all about how I shoot in each lighting condition (I do this in my photography course!), first we need to break down what those conditions are. For me, there are usually five main categories that the lighting conditions can fall under.
First up, direct harsh light.
This is the one that scares photographers the most. I get it, I used to be terrified of it too! But I live in Arizona, so I deal with the sun a lot. And when I am working a long wedding day, often times the first look is happening during the brightest times of the day. So, let’s see some examples of how I photograph couples in harsh direct light…
Next up, open shadow. Now this is my favorite when it is bright out. Finding a place that is entirely shaded! It works well for large groups too (like wedding parties) so that I can keep everyone evenly lit. I don’t just say shadow because I want open shadow, not any ol shadow.
Open shadow is when there is nothing above your subject but open sky. There is nothing to cast down shadows directly on them or cast colors either.
Let’s see some examples of that too!
My favorite way to shoot indoors is with window light. It allows me to use less gear (aka, no flash) and gives me a chance to still use natural light while inside. You also have options, depending on where you place your subject and yourself and the angles you shoot at. Options like evenly lighting your subject or adding some shadows and depth to the image.
Here are some of my favorite window light example photos. It is no secret that I consider myself a natural light photographer. I mainly shoot with the sun as my light source, but I also have to use flash! Wedding receptions almost always call for flash and there are sometimes other parts of the wedding day where I need it too.
Flash is nothing to be intimidated by! You can use your flash just as you would a natural light source like the sun. Check out these examples of different flash looks.
And, finally, my favorite. Backlight. This is my favorite way to shoot! I schedule portrait sessions around the sun so that we can use back lighting and make sure that I can steal my clients away for sunset portraits on their wedding day.
Backlighting adds such a beautiful glow to your subject, a soft ring of light and an evenly lit skin tone. I absolutely love this style of shooting the most!
So, there you have it. Lighting, lighting, LIGHTING!
If you want to learn about how I shot in each condition and how to manipulate light for your needs, check out my photography course.