I would consider myself mostly a natural light photographer and I say that because that is what I mostly do, but I also prefer its look. What is important about that though is the fact that if I decide to use off-camera flash or do some studio work, I could. The reason I say this is because understanding lighting (natural or artificial) is so important, after all…isn’t photography as an art…painting with light? We can’t do much without it. I’ll share a few tips (in no particular order) that I think are really important when it comes to lighting.
1. Understand the exposure triangle (ISO, Shutter Speed, & Aperture) and learn how to use a light meter.
This is the basic of basic…you have to understand this. When I first started out I was told to put my camera on Manual Mode and not to move it from there. This forced me to understand how the exposure triangle worked. I still don’t move it from there honestly; although now I think it’s more of a control thing. And I say learn how to use a light meter because it just makes life easier. Sometimes relying on the in-camera meter just doesn’t hack it.
2. Observe good and bad light.
Even when you’re not photographing something/someone…observe the light around you and assess it. This will train your eye and help you while on a photo shoot, especially while on location. You will be able to spot great light quickly, which makes transitions faster and easier. I started doing this early in my career and I found so many great locations to shoot just because I was constantly looking at the light that was created. I kept track of the time of day, and where I was…now of course there are apps for this, but it really is helpful.
3. Don’t be afraid to shoot into the sun for some beautiful backlighting.
Backlighting is one of my favorites! Sometimes when we start out we keep looking for shady spots for a nice diffused light but shooting into the sun can create a different feel to your shot. And even though sun-flares aren’t technically correct, they are really popular, they can create mood, and in my experience, clients tend to love these shots the most!
4. Practice and get comfortable with artificial lighting.
Like I said above, I love natural lighting, but when you learn how to use studio lights or speedlights in your work, you gain sooo many more opportunities. You can create any lighting situation you want. If you live in an area that winter really hinders or slows your business you can give yourself more opportunities with knowing how to use lights. It’s not something to be afraid of…trust me, we all go through this transition, but it’s just something you have to practice with and get comfortable with.
5. Practice altering existing light.
There are so many lighting modifiers out there. You have your standard reflectors to countless things you can attach to your camera/flash etc. I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t need the most expensive, newest gadgets on the market. We all have an endless list of gadgets we want but truthfully, we don’t always need them. One of my favorite photographers that I follow uses those $15 clamp-on, work lamps that you often find on someone’s workbench. He creates some of the most beautiful photographs I’ve ever seen. My point is that you can just practice modifying existing or artificial light with things around you. Just imagine all the light scenarios you can create after a quick trip to the hardware store!
A blurb about me:
My name is Heather Brouillette, photographer/owner of hay.LO Photography based out of Woodbridge, Virginia, serving Northern Virginia and DC areas. I am mostly self-taught, but did graduate from the Art Institute with an Associate’s in Photography. I began photographing professionally while living in San Diego, CA. and my passion for the art just sprouted from there. I specialize in high school seniors and stylized sessions. I have a blast doing them; they are so much fun and the sessions are just so full of energy! I really enjoy bringing the seniors out of their shell and just having a blast. I love finding locations that have vibrant colors, and gorgeous light. I mostly use natural, available light but often times will use some off-camera flash for a more dramatic look. I’ve been told my style is more artistic and fashion oriented than the typical senior portraits and I LOVE that! I want to be able to create something for each client that is not only memorable and unique but also something that will be visible and relevant for years to come.