SHOOTING INTO THE LIGHT – GEORGE PROXENOS
Knowing where the light is coming from will help you know where to position your subject to get the best picture. It’s natural to assume that the best way to position your subject is with the sunlight shining directly into the face to light up their features. This isn’t usually the best choice.
Looking towards the sun will make your subject squint. It will also cause shadows around the eyes that make them tired. Instead, try positioning your subject with the sun behind them. The backlight this provides will cast nice highlights around the hair.
With the sun behind them, use a reflector or a fill flash to fill in the shadows and light up the face for the picture. This technique also adds a beautiful catch light in the subject’s eyes! Another good option is to place your subject with the sun to the side and slightly behind them.
If you have a hard time determining where to place your subject in relation to the light source, try this exercise to help you see where the light is falling. Position your subject in the area where you want to photograph them. Stand as far away from them as you plan to be when you take the picture. Now walk completely around your subject noticing the light from all angles.
Once you’ve walked around them once, walk a circle around them again slowly. This time have your subject turn with you so they are facing you the entire time.
Look at their face closely and notice the changes in light as they face different directions. Notice how the light touches their features and where the shadows land. Notice how the light catches their eyes in each position. Once you find the best direction for your subject to face, take your photo.
Learning to see light will take time. As you recognise the qualities of light, positioning your subject in the best light will become easier and easier. You can learn many more great techniques by enroling on our People Photography course!