The light in a scene is a huge part of what evokes that feeling. Is it soft? Is it hard? Is it low? Is it bright? Your camera can help to translate that light onto the photo, but it needs help. It doesn’t see light the same way you do, so you need to work within its limitations.

One example of this is with the color of light. Different light sources produce different color temperatures of light. Our eyes adjust for this, so we don’t notice. Our camera cannot adjust for more than one color of light, and so you can get some pretty yucky results if you have multiple light temperatures at play.

One way you can help your camera is to limit your scene to just one type of light.

The most common way to do this is quite simple: turn off the lights.

Window light is one of the most beautiful types of light you can find: it’s infinitely variable, soft, directional, and freely available. But when you mix it with overhead lights, you get color temperature problems.

When I have shot weddings, I would walk into the room in the morning to photograph the bride getting ready, and immediately turn off all the lights, and throw open the curtains. The bridesmaids would look perplexed, because often it would feel like we were getting ready in near darkness. But not in the eyes of my camera. The room just went from being lit by unflattering, overhead orange light, to dramatic, soft, side light. As a photographer you need to learn to see light the way your camera does.

If it’s dark out, you can turn on any lamps you can find. A quick tip about light is that it is much more flattering and interesting when it comes from the side, and not from above. The lights in your ceiling are dreadfully bad for making interesting photos. Lamps are much better!

Once you’ve added all the light you can, you can adjust your subject. Bring them closer to the light sources if possible. The closer your subject gets to the light source, the more intensity the light has, making it better for lighting your image. It will often make the light softer as well, which is a lot more flattering!

fix Challenging Light

Midday Harsh Light - Move around until the sun is behind your subject. This is backlit lighting means the light is softened and also prevents squinty eyes, harsh shadows, and oily shine. Add trees between your subject and then sun and it can be pretty magical shot! If you are struggling to find a way to have your subject backlit or finding shade experiment. Changing where you stand will change your subject is lit up. Have your subject move around. Take a lot of shots through your experimentation


1. Experiment with lighting and shadows. Pick two different settings of lighting to photograph this weekend.  

3. Take at least 50 pictures and select your favorite three to share in our group.

Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.
— Henri Cartier-Bresson