The Best Lighting for Photography

Light is THE most important part of photography.

But not all light is created equal, and I want to share the types of light you want to look for when taking a photo.

Natural Light vs. Artificial Light

Natural light is light that comes from the sun - we love this light.

Artificial light is light that comes from lightbulbs, flashes etc. – we want to avoid this light.

Artificial light creates a yellow tint or unwanted shadows in photographs.

The following two photos show the difference between a photo taken with the lights on (image 1), and the same photo taken with the lights off, using only natural light (image 2).

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The difference is subtle but is even more obvious when taking photos of people because they’ll have shadows under their eyes and look a bit yellow.

To get better light, open the blinds, move towards windows or better lit spaces, and turn off all overhead lights and lamps.

Flat light vs. Bright Light

Flat light refers to light that avoids harsh shadows and extremely bright areas.

In other words, shade or non-direct light.

While indoors, getting too close to a window where the light is streaming in can wash out the subject you’re shooting. It’s better to move away from the window, where the light is still good but not hitting your subject directly.

While outdoors, you want to find shaded areas. It may seem confusing since I just told you how important light is, but it’s in moderation. Shaded areas are still very well-lit and will provide flat light which creates a much more flattering photo.

Here’s an example; The first photo of this family sitting on a park bench is taken in bright light, and you can see that there are a lot of shadows on their faces and bodies, as well as some glare on the man’s face. In the second photo, we’ve moved into a shaded area where the light was flat.

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Avoid Uneven Light

We also want to make sure it is even light, so there are no shadows creeping in.

Here is an example of uneven soft light, where we can see that there is some light on her face. I don’t think the photo is ruined, because look how freaking cute she is, but it’s more ideal not to have these shadows when possible.

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Now that you know the best types of light to take photos - try to look for it before you start shooting :)