Jan Hudson’s Photography Tip #13

Jan Hudson w BanjoContinuing with our weekly series of How-To Photography for Do-It-Yourselfers who want better band shots for press kits and social media, professional photographer Jan Hudson talks about LIGHTING and answers your questions.

Uh, oh, Blog 13...can this be good? LOL, well, I'm not too superstitious, so let's move forward. We're going to go back to some of the questions you've asked via my website.

This week's question is from Paul, whose wife is in a band and wants him to take a few nice individual photos of her and maybe a couple of each of the other band members. Image635011824112908756These are going to be more portrait like and Paul only has a point and shoot camera...nothing fancy, no external flash, and no tripod.

So, what do we do? The most important thing that you will need is light and a lot of it. If you don't have a flash ( or the flash that you have built into your camera gives you harsh, shadowy, and unacceptable results) you can use the most flattering and beautiful light available....and that would be natural light.

Natural light is exactly what it sounds like....natural. Coming from the skies, or in my humble opinion, the Heavens. I would much rather photograph my subjects with natural light than any artificial light available, hands down.

Where do we find natural light? Outdoors, of course and indoors, using window light, light from an open door, a skylight.

IMG_4411_ppLet's try the window light first. Position your subject parallel to the window and about two feet away from the window. Notice your background and make sure that is it pleasant.

Because the side of the face that is nearest the window will be lit a lot brighter than the far side, you may want to have someone hold either a sheet or a white piece of poster board on the opposite side of the face.

By doing this, the light from the window will cross the subject and reflect back onto the darker side of the face, therefore giving you a much more pleasing look...one that is more evenly lit. Very simple solution and easily done with a point and shoot or an expensive DSLR camera.

Next, let's try the open door technique. Position your subject about 2 feet in front of an open door and make sure that light is even and shoot. Always make sure that the background is pleasing and not busy.

IMG_4506_ppSkylights are a little trickier...they must be large enough to fully light the subject.

A museum is a wonderful example of places that have great skylights. Some people have sunrooms that are perfect for light, too.

Lastly, do the most logical thing and photograph your subject outdoors. Find a place that has either open shade or a building that allows for shade.

IMG_4547Never shoot in the sun if you can help it. Sun is great for landscapes, but because of squinting eyes and unnatural shadows, it is not the best choice for portraits.

When you are photographing each person individually, take close up and full length photos and take several, allowing your subject to relax and get into the session, therefore giving you really great photos that everyone will be happy with.

Whether you have a simple camera, a phone camera, or a DSLR, natural light is the perfect way to create great portraits.

Thanks everyone. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Enjoy your week!


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