Shoot Into the Light for Great Portrait Lighting

You can talk about settings, camera gear, and technique all you want, but if the light is absent, the photograph will usually fall flat. Light is at the center of all photography. It’s not just landscape photographers who needs the inspiring light. It always adds a great dynamic to every photo you want to take. Now, I’m not really a studio and flash guy. I like to use natural light to take photos. I know how to use flash and triggers to get some good lighting, but there’s just something about the natural ambiance of natural light!

Sure, there’s the natural setup whenever you’re shooting portraits outdoors in natural light with side light. It’s great too! I absolutely take advantage of the great lighting in those positions. However, there’s another set up that I love even more.

It’s shooting directly into the sun, almost washing my subject out in light.

A lot of you reading this might be saying that is super risky because I run the chance of completely blowing out the entire photo and not capturing any detail in the photo at all.

Sure, you’re right. However, great risk sometimes yields great reward.

IMG_8407Here’s why I ┬álove shooting directly into the light so much:

  1. You get tremendous rim lighting around your subject
  2. The light always glows
  3. You can create great lens flares
  4. You can incorporate some different colors without trying (in the example photo, there are pale blues and purples reflected from the lens)

If you do accidentally blow out a photo, have no fear. There is this thing called Lightroom or Photoshop that allows you to edit photos (sarcasm).

A great way to eliminate blown out photos in camera is to use something to partially block the light. You can use leaves overhanging to create that barrier or you can even hold up your hand to block some of the light that is entering the lens. If you’ve never tried this before, give it a shot… pun intended. You will be pleasantly surprised after a few tries getting the light right. Remember, trial and error is a great way to work on photos. Don’t be afraid to fail!