As a photographer, lighting is everything to me. Light describes how I feel about an image and expresses to the world how I feel as a photographer. Light is to my photography as the air is to my lungs. My images can’t live without it.
Watching the way a shadow wraps around a woman’s body to accentuate her curves, or the way the catch lights are caught in her eyes is part of what I love about creating images. The use of light is more of my paintbrush than my camera at times, whether I want sun flare while outside or a hair light while in studio, it is the light that I am always looking for.
I was told a long time ago, in my first photo class, that a great image has mystery, ambiguity and contradiction. All three can be created with light. Shadows create ambiguity and have mystery if placed in the right location, while contradiction can be obtained by lighting something in the image that may have gone un-noticed otherwise.
When we look with our eyes we see the world as it is. When we light the world as photographers we show the world how we would like to see it, or for the message we wish to send. If I want to show a sexy image I may just use one light with it slowly spilling off into the background. Natural light from behind the subject (back lighting) can be happy, joyful and full of life.
So how do you create a mood with light? Before you can create a mood you need to understand light. Unless you know exactly what the light is going to do it is nearly impossible to create a mood with out dumb luck (although happy accidents can be nice).
One of the first thing I did when I decided I wanted to learn how light works was to look at photographs in magazines and art books and try to determine what the light source was (natural, ambient, strobes, hot lights), how many light sources there were, and what direction the light was coming from. If I saw an image with lighting I loved I would try to replicate the light to see if I could recreate the lighting. In the beginning, more often than not I realized I was not correct.
Another thing to do to help you get more familiar with light is to learn how light moves. To do this I suggest sitting in a dark room with a strobe and firing it off the walls. By doing this you can see how the light bounces. Now when I am photographing a subject and light falls onto the subject in a way I don’t like I can often figure out what it is bouncing off and make a minor adjustment so I can get the image I want.
While these may not be conventional methods for learning lighting, unless you can see how light works all the technical knowledge in the world can’t help you.
While they say a picture is worth a thousand words, never forget that all of the different spectrums of light are in your vocabulary.
Written by Kelly Segre
Kelly’s photography career started many years ago in her father’s darkroom. With a love for film and timeless, classic images, she strives to bring this style into every session she shoots.
By creating an environment that allows her clients to feel sexy and glamorous before ever stepping in front of her camera, Kelly is able to get the most out of each and every session. Using simple techniques and literally showing her clients how to pose, Kelly is able to set a fun, playful and sexy mood for her clients, turning a girls night out into a sexy boudoir session!