Turn Towards the Light for Awesome Photographs


Welcome to Part 2 in this series on taking better photographs, and making better art. Click here if you missed Part 1, Seeing the Light for Better Photographs.  

Again, this series is not just for photographers, but for anyone who creates art in the home. Portrait and still life painters will also benefit from these lighting ideas.

Did you have a chance to observe the light in your home? If not, do that now. It’s important and you’ll need to reference it later in these lessons.

You now know which room has nice light at which time of day. Now let’s work on using it.

When working with light there are a variety of ways you can place your subject in relation to the light to create a photo with the feel you want. One of the best ways to light your subject is to have them face towards the light.

That may seem obvious. But it’s one of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to light. In fact, I have found myself making that same mistake even 15 years later!

You don’t have to face your subject head on toward the light. You can use slightly different positions to create shadows and change the feel of the image.

Facing towards the light, and not directly next to the light, will create soft shadows that add depth to your images.

Here is an example of two images taken minutes apart, I took to show you exactly what I’m talking about.

awesome photographs

*Image above with light behind & to the side of the subject. Notice the darker shadows on the subjects' faces.

When I changed positioned and moved my chair so it faced the light instead of had the light coming in from behind I was able to create beautiful shadows and it changes the feel of the photo.

awesome photograhs

* Image above where the subjects are facing the light with soft shadows to create depth.

The first image is properly exposed and the light looks nice. It gives an airy feel to the photo.

Today’s challenge:

  1. Head to one of the rooms that has good light at this time of day
  2. Ask your subject to stand in front of the light. Take a properly exposed image.
  3. Next ask them to move away from the light but turn towards it. For this you do not want them directly next to the window. Instead have them move back a bit. Make sure they are still close enough that the light hits them. Now take a photo.

Which image do you prefer?

Often times, it will be the one facing the light as the light will illuminate their face while also helping to create shadows for depth.

In the next blog post, we will discuss how to set these situations up all the time, easily.

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