I sometimes get asked something similar to “How do you get your images so light and airy??” Or even something like “I love how light and bright your images are. What camera do you use?”
I love helping other photographers grow and giving advice and help where I can!! So to help answer these, first off it isn’t just the camera that achieves a style! A good photographer doesn’t need top grade equipment to achieve their style! I remember thinking at the start of my business that buying a nicer camera and lens would automatically make my pictures better, and I was disappointed when this didn’t happen instantly like I thought it would! While certain things like lenses with a wider aperture help in achieving a certain look, the PHOTOGRAPHER is the one who “tells” the camera what to do! So before you go out and buy all new equipment to get a different look to your photos, read this post first and you might be surprised and what you can get with whatever equipment you have!
Here are 5 tips to getting light, bright and airy images!!
1. Shoot at golden hour.
Shooting the hour before sunset is SO pretty and gives such a beautiful glow to images! I do my best to only schedule sessions for around this time, and IF it needs to be earlier in the day I find somewhere with shade to avoid harsh light at all costs!
2. Find even light.
Find a place where the subject, foreground, and background are in even light (no sun spots!). Avoid spotty light and harsh shadows! If shooting at sunset, have the sun backlighting the subject instead of them facing the sun! If shooting during harsh light, try to find even shade, or face your subject towards their shadow since direct sun creates unwanted shadows. Look at the images below! These were taken in the middle of the day (not ideal to shoot in)! See how much better the even light from being in the shade (right) looks compared to the spotty light (left)?
Here’s an example of how to make an image look glowy even in shade when you find even light!
But what if there’s no open shade?? So earlier from the above pictured couple, it was harsher light! Yet I still took the bridesmaids out in it since it was evenly bright through the background. Having them face their shadow allows the light to still look soft and even!
Here’s another example. This was in Battery Park in Charleston around noon! So it was bright! There wasn’t any available completely open shade without spots of light coming through (it’s a crowded place in the summer!), so I had them face their shadow! The spots just hit the back/tops of their heads and the light hitting the front of them was even.
3. Choose light backgrounds, and create distance between the subject and background.
Shooting in front of a white wall is going to look a lot lighter and than shooting in a dark forest! While I don’t think every photo should be in front of a white wall since greenery is so beautiful, it also helps to leave distance between the subject and background so the background is more out of focus and soft. This makes the subject stand out more and look sharper, and adds to the dreamy, light quality of the image!
Here I had the background far from the couple so it was out of focus! It looks a lot dreamier than if the couple was right in front of the trees!
Here’s another example of the same idea! The greens are light and out of focus, and wouldn’t be as creamy in the back if the couple was right under the tree!Here’s some examples of finding a light background! This was in the lobby of their venue and SO gorgeous!
And this was in front of a TIRE SHOP!!! But knowing to find soft, even light as well as light backgrounds makes it look SO classy!
4. Use a wide aperture.
Each lens has a maximum aperture. The wider the aperture (lower the number), the less is going to be in focus meaning the background will look blurrier and your subject stand out more! So I normally shoot couples with my aperture at f/1.8-2.8 so that just a little is in focus! Of course be sure you’re nailing your focus since shooting too wide and being off slightly will produce an out of focus image. But checking on how wide (lower the number) the aperture can go will be helpful in upgrading lenses! If you aren’t sure where to start, I recommend a 50mm prime lens with an aperture of around f/1.8 to start off with! My favorite lens is the Canon 50mm f/1.2, but it’s a costly piece of equipment, and the f/1.8 and f/1.4 are much more affordable!
Here are some examples! Especially when used at sunset, it makes the background SO creamy and dreamy!!
5. Use an ExpoDisc!
I noticed a HUGE shift in my images after purchasing this little guy! It measures the light actually hitting your subject instead of bouncing off of your subject, and helps me easier set my white balance and correct my exposure! This allowed me to shoot with the correct exposure instead of shooting really underexposed and allowed me to be more consistent! You can read more about this in my last post on using an ExpoDisc!
I hope this helps as you become a stronger photographer! Don’t forget to check out the shop here for more educational materials!! Happy shooting!