Find The Great Light
If “Get Close to Your Subject” is the granddaddy of all photo tips, then “Find Great Light” is the most soulful of them all. I can tell most of you to get closer to your photo subjects, you can do it, and the results are immediate and amazing. But when I tell you to find great light, the floundering begins. Finding great light and using it to give your photographs impact is a lifelong project. Searching for and finding great light is what professional photographers spend much of their time doing. Yes, the subject has to be right, but if the light isn’t, you’ve got a problem. But when you get this one, when it sinks in, the floodgate of wonderful photography opens up and all of a sudden you’re a real photographer. You’ll know what great light is after you’ve photographed it a few times and watched your viewers react to it. This is the real deal here. In other blog post, I told you to Turn Off Your Flash. That’s not without its problems. When you turn your flash off you need to deal with getting your subjects into some light that makes the hassle— yes, I said hassle—worth it. Part of being a good photographer is knowing how to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The puzzle is how to get a beautiful subject into some beautiful light. Sometimes you have to grab the bull by the horns. It’s so worth it. I think you should start with something that looks like the situation in the photograph to the left. It’s the front door of my house. Sunshine is hitting the sidewalk outside but you can’t see that. You can, however, see it’s beautiful result in the glow of my neighbor’s face. There are serious portrait photographers who use nothing but light that looks like this, and they are extremely successful. It’s a gorgeous, classic look. You can hardly go wrong. Wherever you live, you are very likely within a few minutes of light that looks just like this. It could be your front door, it could be your garage, it could be on the porch, or it could be under the shade of a tree. The secret to using the slight is finding it. Have a portrait session with someone you love. Their age doesn’t matter. They need to be willing to cooperate and be patient with you as you develop your photographic skills. For some of you out there, when you get a few pictures that look like this under your belt, a light won’t go off in your head, it’s going to be more like rockets taking off. I’m confident, that for at least a few of you out there, this is the photo tip that’s going to make all the difference.
You’re going to write to me and say, “Nick, it was Find the Great Light! That was the one! That was the one that changed everything.”
Maybe that’s going to be you. I certainly hope so.