Have you ever noticed how often you can be sitting at a restaurant or coffee shop with a friend or significant other, and when the light strikes them just right, it makes for the perfect moment and photo? Photography lighting is incredibly important for taking solid photos and capturing an important moment. There are settings on your camera to adjust, or presets that help in post editing once you download the photos. But, sometimes you do the best with what you have.
Lighting can affect the mood and can impact the outcome of your image. Sometimes that can make for a tricky session, but don’t be afraid to play with it a little, too.
The first item to consider as you set a plan for your photo is the standard three-point lighting that photographers follow. That includes key lighting, fill light and back light.
Key light is the main source in photography lighting and/or film. It shines directly on the subject you are focusing on, and ultimately determines the lighting design.
Fill light provides lift to the shadows that the key light has produced.
Back light is another form of controlled lighting. Just like it sounds, it is a light behind an object or person to give depth or separation from the background.
But, that’s not where the lighting stops. Here are a few other items to consider when planning out a photo idea:
The time of day is one of the biggest factors when it comes photography lighting, especially when outside. The sun affects where the lighting goes. It’s a no-brainer, everyone considers the perfect time for photos as ‘magic hour,’ just before sunset. It gives that perfect glow.
It’s important to note even if you’re inside for a photo, as sunlight sneaks through the windows and doors. Yet, playing with lighting in strange ways can be artistically exciting. such as harsh daylight creating interesting shadow effects. Simply have a preconceived concept of where you want to drive your end results and schedule the time accordingly.
The object or person you are capturing will also make a difference in the way you set your lighting. Photography lighting for skin tones are different for everyone and is something to take into consideration in preparation.
If you’re trying to set a melancholic mood or tone for the setting, you won’t want a sunny day or bright lighting. There’s a good chance you’ll want a dimly lit room with low-lights or a dreary, overcast day outside should you be lucky enough to get one. If it’s a celebratory moment you’re looking to highlight, then you’re going to want a cheerful background to play up the mood.
After the main pieces and ideas are determined, you can also decide if you want inside or outside lighting. Should you choose something more controlled for indoors, there are tools, such as backdrops, reflectors and soft box lighting to help balance out with your subject and surroundings.
Lighting sets the tone for many things, not just the photos we take. It’s something to get creative with for the best results in your portrait session.
Do you have any special photography lighting techniques you like to use as you prepare for your photography projects?