Photo Tip: Avoid Direct Sunlight and Look for Shade
When people think photography they tend to think a lot about facial expressions and composition, but after those have been mastered (or at least considered) what really separates the oil from the vinegar is lighting. The irony here is that photography means light writing but it’s the most important, most overlooked thing about it.
In real photo sessions I’ve found that the easiest thing to do is to bring an external light.
This basically means we can use any background anywhere (almost) and still have super fantastic lighting.
But where does this leave you if you don’t have an external flash, lighting umbrella and light stand handy?
You have two options and three bullet points.
1. Go for the moment and ignore the lighting.
Sometimes your kids get really excited about grape pickers at Randall Standish Vineyards where they sell the best grape juice you’ve ever tasted in your life and you may not be able to get permission to move the heavy equipment to somewhere with better lighting.
Or they have cookies and they say, “take a photo of us!” but are all squinty and not looking at the camera with harsh shadows all over their little faces.
But really at the end of the day you don’t care, you just want to capture the moment.
2. Look for an interesting background in open shade.
Open shade means that the camera (or iphone) is pointed into the shade. If Daniel and I had switched places, that would make his face underexposed and the background overexposed.
3. Do both.
Life is short – live dangerously.
In short – if you can shoot into open shade. There will be no harsh shadows on faces and people will be far less squinty. This limits your choice of backgrounds, which may or may not be worth the compromise. If you’re not sure and things aren’t too stressful, you can always do both.