6 Photography Lighting Tricks Everyone Needs to Know

dramatic_lighting_outsideAsk any professional photographer what the key to great photos is, and you are guaranteed to hear: “Lighting.” Proper lighting separates awful photos from good ones, and it elevates good photos to outstanding.

Up the quality of your photos by following these 6 photography lighting tricks that everyone needs to know:

Look for broad light


Broad light is soft and reduces shadows and harsh contrast. It hits your subject from many angles and illuminates a scene. Think of broad light as indirect light flooding through a big window. (Narrow light, on the other hand, is really harsh – think of a spotlight on a stage.)

If you’re taking photos at night or on a dark day, turn on all the lights in the room (and adjacent rooms) to create as much broad light as possible.

Move light sources closer


The closer the light, the softer it is. If you’re taking photos indoors, move your subjects closer to light sources (like windows or lamps) – or move table and floor lamps closer to them.

Diffuse light


If you’re taking photos outside on a bright sunny day, you’ll end up with harsh photos if the light isn’t diffused. Diffused light creates broad light. Wait for clouds to cover the sun, or if that’s not possible, drape a white sheet overhead. If you’re taking photos indoors on a sunny day, stand away from windows where lights is pouring in.

Use angles to change texture


Lighting from the front de-emphasizes texture – wrinkles and creases will almost disappear – while lighting from the side, above, or below emphasizes it. If you’re taking photos of a landscape, for example, side lighting will pick up more details.

Create shadows for a dramatic effect


For dramatic photos in which the subject appears 3D, position a light above and slightly to the side of your subject. The shadows will create greater volume and really make your subject pop.

Learn how to use backlighting


Because backlighting can create really stunning photos, it’s worthwhile learning how to do it right. A backlit subject needs to have some light hitting him from the front. Even if the sun is behind him, clouds in the sky could be diffusing light all around him. Increase your exposure to let in that front light.