So, let's talk about lighting. Something that I find interesting is that my clients are always shocked to hear that I am not a fan of shooting in bright sunlight. In theory, sunny days seem like a great vibe for a photoshoot, but in reality, bright sun = Stronger shadows, squinty eyes, and unwanted sweat. Not sounding so glamorous anymore, huh?
Have you ever seen a photo of yourself and cringed because of the contrasting shadows on your face or the amount of unflattering detail caused by harsh light? As much as we love our sunshine, the big ball of fire in the sky is often to blame for many photos that we typically "untag" ourselves out of. So how do we fix it? Here are a few tips that I swear by:
1 . Avoid High Noon - When the sun is directly above our clients, the shadows fall on their face/body instead of in front of or behind them. Not to mention the direct sun really heats things up quick which is no fun for anyone. On a hot sunny day, the farther from 12 noon, the better.
Easy Fix: The truth is, we can't always avoid shooting in the middle of the day. As a wedding photographer, sometimes you just have to make due with what you've got. Whenever I find my self in a situation with harsh light, I pay close attention to the shadows on faces. I typically try to put the sun behind my clients and/or find some shade to filter the light. I also lower my contrast in post to help soften the shadows! By finding some shade and/or clipping your shadows in post processing, you can definitely still get magical photos any time of the day!
2. Wake Up Early or Shoot Until Sunset- Ah, yes. The Golden Hours! If you haven't heard of this term, it's photog lingo for that "sweet spot" of perfect light. My favorite shoots have all been shot close to sunrise or sunset. There's just something magical about the warm light peaking over the horizon that gives an intimate feel to a photograph. This one doesn't take much explaining!
How to Convince Your Clients: Personally, I've never had any trouble getting my clients to agree that these hours produce better light. But if your clients seem unsure about waking up early or tackling rush hour, show them a few examples and I'm sure they'll agree that it's worth the inconvenience and change their minds!
3. Don't Be Scared of Clouds or a Little Rain - This tip is the one that most of my clients raise their brow at. I know, I know, it seems weird that a dreary day can produce romantic photos, but trust me on this. Clouds are a photographer's BFF! Especially in those midday sessions, they can be a huge help. I actually pray for them! I like to think of clouds as natural filters that help create that soft light we all love in our favorite moody portraits.
"But What if it Pours?" I thought you might be asking this question, and there are a few ways to handle this situation. It's ultimately up to you to make the call. You should be able to judge between clouds = awesome, vs. monsoon = bad idea. If I am feeling some hesitation from my clients worried about weather, I typically offer to bring umbrellas to add a unique twist to the session if it does happen to rain. Or, you can offer them a reshoot if Mother Nature gets a little more testy than expected that day. If it does seem too questionable, you can always reschedule but I'm all for pushing the limits. I'm still waiting for a client who wants to go for it and take some romantic shots in a downpour!
These guidelines have gotten me through some questionable shooting conditions. Hopefully they help you feel more confident next time you're shooting outdoors. Happy shooting this week, ShutterBees! If you have any questions or just want to chat, feel free to send me a message!