Improve the Way You Work With Light

July 6, 2019

4 Ways to Help Improve Your Light Work

I spent an entire year back in 2015 pushing my own made up boundaries with light. I wanted to be competent walking into ANY wedding and lighting situation and to be able to shoot in low light, harsh light, speckled light, even light, no light, and so on. Pushing myself with light has defined my work and the way I shoot now, and a lot of small things are overlooked while shooting.

So here are five things you can do to help improve the way you work with light.

*All of these images were taken at the Rooted to Thrive workshop in Italy where I taught these concepts. 

Have your clients face the light

Yes it could be blinding, but there’s a fix for that. Have them shut their eyes and have a moment with one another. Tilting their faces towards the light source so that there aren’t shadows can improve a photo in so many ways.

In the first set of photos I prefer the first image over the second. I had her tilt her chin slightly up and had him lean his down to play with the light and sillhouette. After I showed the attendees what that would do with the shadows I had them both tilt their faces up a bit more towards the light to get rid of the shadows on the fronts of their faces. 

In the second set of photos you can see the difference in the shadows just by having her face tilt up a little bit more. By moving her chin up you help soften the shadows around her eyes, under her nose and under her lips. If the sun wouldn’t have been completely blinding I could’ve had her open her eyes and help with the shadows from her lashes. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Play With Shadows

This is one of my favorite things to do. I LOVE shooting in midday light because there are so many fun shadow options if it’s bright out. The things I tend to focus on while shooting and working with shadows are eyes and lips. Those are the sections of faces that people are most drawn to (if any of you are drawn to noses then let me know) so I want to accentuate those. 

In the first image I wanted him to be slightly silhouetted and have at least her eyes illuminated. It could have been better if her entire face was, but I don’t hate the image. In the second image I had her face us with her back to the wall. I wanted her eyes to be the focus of this portrait. In both photos I had to shuffle them around a little to make the shadows work in our favor. 

Have Them Face the Windows

Shooting in an ugly space? No problem. You can create some really dynamic images simply by having your couples step towards the windows. These two were maybe 3 or 4 feet from the windows and facing it directly. It’s easy to hide the background this way and to get some pretty intimate photos of them as well. 

Use Lamps As a Light Source

I love shooting indoors and using lamps as a light source. When I use lamps I generally follow all of the rules as I do when shooting in harsh light. Watch for shadows on their faces, point their chins towards the source and keep them kinda close to the light source. 

In the first image she wasn’t close enough to the lamp so she ends up being mostly in the shadows. By having her move to his lap and getting closer to the light it illuminates them both evenly and you can see them both a bit more clearly. Also, by moving closer to them I was able to crop out the lamp and create an image without the distraction of the lamp.