3 Tips for Better Lighting

Lighting is obviously the key to photography. The word itself, photography, literally means to write with light. So here are three lighting tips that work for anyone, anywhere, with any camera to create amazing photos.

1. Find Good Light

You can work really hard to try to take good photos in bad light, or you can move your feet to find good light. This is something that professionals do instinctively, and one of the reasons there photos are, well… so much better!

3 Tips for Better Lighting

Notre Dame cathedral in Paris isn’t very brightly lit. Instead of fighting against the light by photographing things in the dark, I look for things that are well lit, like this statue, and use them as my subjects.

2. Turn to the Light

I critique a lot of photos. A huge percentage of these photos could be made significantly stronger simply by turning the subject relative to the light. The way the light interacts with the subject is critical to creating a dynamic photograph. Turning your subject isn’t hard. Walking around to the other side of your subject to better utilize the light isn’t hard. But you have to actually step up, and make it happen.

3 Tips for Better Lighting

Here we have 2 photos from a portrait session my wife and I shot. The big difference in these images is having the little boy turn his face upward to catch the light from the overcast sky. The first shot is interesting, but the second is going to sell.

3. Move to the Light

When you have control, move your subject to the light. This doesn’t work well if you’re a photojournalist, but as a portrait photographer you should be positioning your subject in great light before you pick up your camera.

3 Tips for Better Lighting

This bride didn’t just happen to be standing in the one beam of window light—I put her there. She was just standing around, waiting for her turn to walk down the aisle, so I asked her to stand in a place where the light made her look good. She looks good, I look good, everyone is happy!

Need some practice?

Try creating some window-lit portraits. You’ve just found good light [the window]. Now move your model into the window light. Finally, turning the face toward or away from the light is going to make all the difference in this great lighting setup.

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