September 12, 2019
When I first started my business almost 7 years ago, the number one thing I struggled with the most was finding GOOD light. I struggled so much that I would end up shooting anywhere that had a pretty back drop, for the sake of having a pretty back drop. But WHY? The background of most photo’s is significantly blurred anyways if you’re shooting at low apertures (like I do), so why would it matter more than finding really good light? The signs of someone new who is learning!
When arriving to any session, whether it be indoors or outdoors, the most important thing to look for is light. A lot of times if you’re shooting outdoors, you want to either backlight your subjects or have the light hitting them at an angle. You have to be careful however to not have shadows on their faces…it takes time and practice but if you can understand how to shoot using light to your advantage, it will transform your images instantly!
If you’re shooting indoors however, finding good light can sometimes be a challenge. Whenever I’m shooting indoors I always like to hug the windows. Light pours in from windows so this should normally always be the solution to shooting indoors. However, I recently shot an in-home newborn session (for the sweetest of clients turned friends) and the day ended up being super dark, cloudy and dreary. Not only was it a dark day but the inside of their home was even darker. Hugging the windows did nothing for me and I quickly found myself cranking the ISO up on my camera to 10,000. For those who don’t know, the higher you need to increase your ISO, the more light you’re letting in. However, the higher the ISO, the grainier your images will turn out. Some photographers love grain and use it as part of their style. I however am not a huge fan. You wont find any of my work with grain because it just isn’t me. I love light and airy images where light is naturally pouring in! It’s me. It’s my style.
At this session, we started in the nursery where there was one window and zero light coming in due to the dark and rainy day. I took a few shots and realized it wasn’t working, so we moved to their master bedroom where there were a few more windows to use – I pulled all of the blinds up and let every speck of light enter the room. Still – ISO at 10,000. Images coming up grainy and not the type of grain you can fix in Lightroom with a little noise reduction. I was honest with my couple and told them there just wasn’t enough light – not for my style of photography, not to do the session the right amount of justice. So we took a walk around the house and BOOM. There it was – a storm door at the entrance of their mudroom in the back of the house. Once we opened the big door and I saw all the light pouring in through their mudroom, I told them that was the spot we’d be spending the rest of our session time at. It seems a little odd, right? To throw them onto a bench in a mudroom and have 90% of their session be right there. But I’d rather them have images with beautiful light that stays true to my style and the reason they hired me than to have them sit all over their house with a bunch of different backdrops and end up with dark and grainy images that speak nothing to my style of photography.
Here are a few examples:
On the left is an image taken in their master. At first glance it may not look like a bad image, but it isn’t my style. And I feel as if people hire me knowing what they’re going to get and that isn’t it. The image on the right however is what they knew they’d get from working with me. An image so full of light, no weird tones, rich colors and the emotion from holding their new baby boy.
Camera settings on the photo to the left: ISO 10,000 | f/2.0 | 1/125
Camera settings on the photo to the right: ISO 1,000 | f/2.2 | 1/320
Camera: Canon Mark III | Lens used: 50mm 1.2
The image on the left was taken in the nursery where there was a lamp on casting a yellow glow. The image isn’t BAD… but it just might not be 100% true to my style. The image on the right is the mom holding her baby at the same positioning with the light pouring in from their mudroom. And guess what? It doesn’t matter what room they’re in or what backdrop we’re using because what matters is the baby’s head here…the lines, his hair, the way she holds his sweet little noggin. A backdrop is not always everything.
Here you can see the door I’m referencing… to the right of this door was a bench in their mudroom and that’s where I sat them for the remainder of their session. You can see it was a TIGHT fit so I hugged the walls with my body to make it work, stepped outside of the storm door and shot with my body outside but the camera pointing in, etc. You do what you have to do to make it work and get the good light!
Design by West + Free Co. Photography by Jami Thompson Photography