When I arrive at a shoot location and my clients show me around their yard, the first thing I’m looking for, rather than beautiful backdrops, is the perfect light. But I know, when I say this out loud, it sounds like crazy creative talk and doesn’t really make much sense to anybody other than fellow photographers.
But light really is so important to your shoot.
So, I thought I’d try to explain the importance of it and how different light will effect your images, in this blog post.
I won’t go into how to photograph each different lighting scenario, because that’s more of an educational, photography style post. I simply want to give my clients a bit of an insight into what I mean when I say ‘the light is better in this spot‘.
Firstly, why is light so important?
Photography, in it’s most basic description, is the manipulation of light, on a subject. Good light can make or break a photograph, and different subjects/situations require different types of light. For example, photographing a horse on it’s own, in direct sunlight, is fine, but photographing a person in the same situation might not be such a great idea. Here’s why…
When It’s Sunny
Every one of my clients is praying for a sunny day for their shoot, but is this really the best scenario?
When photographing people, it can be incredibly unflattering to stand them in direct, midday sunlight, facing the sun. It creates harsh shadows across the face, results in your model squinting and can make skin appear washed out and over-exposed.
If we’re shooting in the middle of the day and the sun is bright and high in the sky, I will be searching for shady spots to place you in. Either under trees, the shadow of a tall building, inside a barn or stable.
Open shade creates a beautiful, even, super flattering light that makes skin look flawless.
So, if you’re booked in for a midday shoot and it’s likely to be super sunny, try and pinpoint some shady areas around your yard, that we might be able to use. Even the tiniest patch of shade can be helpful.
There are ways to work with the sunlight, without placing the subject in the shade. It just means we have to get a little creative and pull some skills out the bag, but on the whole, shade is our friend whenever possible, in bright, sunny situations.
When It’s Cloudy
I know everybody feels so deflated when they wake up on the morning of their shoot and it’s cloudy, but guys, this is good!! Clouds act as a huuuuge natural soft-box for the sun, evening out the light, taking away harsh shadows and making everything look soft and flattering.
If it’s cloudy it simply means we don’t have to worry so much about where we position you and your horses. We have more options because we don’t have to worry about you being in direct sunlight. We aren’t limited to shade only and can shoot wherever takes our fancy.
In fact, a super dark cloud behind you can create incredibly moody, dramatic images, especially if we get a little bit of sun shining down on the subject, through a break in the clouds.
The only thing we really don’t want is rain, but that’s for obviously, soggy reasons and nothing to do with light. So if you wake up to cloud coverage on the day of your photoshoot, do. not. panic!
The Best Kind of Light
If I had to choose one type of light to shoot in every single time, it would be low, evening sunlight. Shooting just before sunset is magical!
I’m actually going to write a separate blog post, all about why sunset shoots are so perfect, but to give you a bit of an idea, that gorgeous golden glow that covers everything just before the sun sets below the horizon is a photographer’s dream.
It’s flattering, unbelievably stunning, creates beautiful lens flare and filters through trees like it was put there just for us to play with.
The only problem with shooting at this time of day is if it’s overcast, as you tend to lose the light pretty quickly. However, if you can bag yourself a beautifully clear evening, with a golden sunset and a multicoloured sky, you’re winning at life!
As I said, I will be writing a blog post with more details about sunset shoots and I have a very special addition to my price list coming soon, so keep your eyes peeled for those.
I hope this gives you a little more idea of what we mean when a photographer tells you that the light is good (or bad).
Of course, it does go way beyond the simple explanation that I’ve mentioned above and working with light is one of the biggest skills a photographer can master. There are so many different scenarios that the elements can throw at us and learning how to work with each situation is super important for any natural light photographer.
But I just wanted to try and explain that, yes, ‘good light’ is important, but hopefully it’s now no-longer just photography jargon that nobody else understands! Hope it helps! 😉