Monday, November 9, 2015

Behind the Frame: Setting the Scene in Direct Sunlight


Any photographer will tell you that good lighting is one of the most important factors to making a good photo.  Good lighting may mean different things to different people, but for most photographers direct overhead sunlight is less than ideal.  I always try and find more flattering angles so the light is either backlit at a 45 degree angle or put the subject in open shade.  However sometimes when you need a wider shot in a specific spot, like this couple in front of their incredible, castle-like, venue we had no choice but to shoot in the harsh light.  This is one of the times when film really excels because it has a great dynamic range, which means we have details in the bright white of her dress and in the dark shadows behind them.  When posing in bright sunlight I never have my subject look at me because they'll be squinty, instead i have them look at each other and I expose for the shadows to get a portrait like this.  If the bride and groom have blue skies on their wedding day they'll definitely want a photo showing that off and when we shoot back light a lot of the time the sky turns white so this is a great chance to get that sky and set the scene.  When telling any story through photographs its important to shoot at three levels- set the scene with a wide context establishing shot, shoot close with beautifully lit emotional portraits and then capture the small little details like the bride and groom holding hands or the wedding day still lifes like the accessories and papergoods.  When all three are combined you can tell the story of the day and create a comprehensive memory for the bride and groom.  Once I know I have a great "scene establishing" photo like this one I can turn them around into better light and shoot more close up portraits with glowing backlight.


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