Probably the most central element to my photography. I am a fan.
Not that I don’t know how to use flashlights, I’ve done commercial work too (In fact, that’s how I started). But there is so much light in the world as it is, why do we need to artificially fill it with more?
I know it’s weird, but it’s all bout seeing the light. Knowing where it comes from, knowing where the shadows will appear. The better your understanding of light, the better your photographs will turn out.
And if you don’t understand light, you’ll never be able to exploit its wonders fully.
Here are a few tips on how you could exploit light better:
1) Watch for lighting, not subjects
While scanning the location with your eyes, keep a lookout for spots with good lighting. Subjects can move into these spots, but the lighting will not move into the subject.
2) Move your subject to the lighting!
Okay, so this is not applicable always, but definitely so for commercial portraiture. Instead of choosing a location which requires a significant flashlight set-up to compensate for natural light, why not angle your subject such that the sunlight works in your favor?
The Picture above was taken only using natural lighting outdoors- The Singapore Botanic Gardens of Singapore.
Of course, not every shot will have lighting such as this. The position I asked the model to stand in (in effect creating the lighting) was carefully chosen based on the environment. I noticed where the shadows were forming, the light falling on both the subject and his background.
3) Background, background background!
Okay this leads me to my third point, which actually can’t be contained within the topic of lighting itself. BACKGROUND.
Always watch your background, in fact it is one of the main reasons amateur photography fails. Most people are quick to grasp the concept of an interesting subject (well at least to some degree), but many fail to envision how to set it.
Distracting passersby, chopped limbs and distractingly lit backgrounds.
Yes, the lighting needs to fall on your subject. But that really means that the lighting on the subject should be greater (intensity) than that of the background. After all, everything is relative.
How should you accomplish this? Simple- Points 1 & 2.
As with all art, these are just general guiding rules. Of course with mastery, they can be broken. But mastery should be the precursor to such photography. Do not try to skip steps. It’s obvious.