Back Light vs. Direct Light

My favorite time to shoot is when the sun is low in the sky.  I can shoot with the sun behind me, so the light is shining directly in front of my subjects — called direct light.  Or I can have the sun behind my subjects, so the light shines behind them — called back light.

There are also many other types of light, but today I am only talking about these two.

Which one to use is mostly about artistic preference.  And sometimes, you don’t have a choice, like if you’re shooting an event with a designated time, so it’s important to know how to shoot in both kinds of light.

Okay, with that said, I have a preference

Who knew?  Apparently, my clients!  haha.  When I’m on a shoot, I don’t shoot with my head as much as my heart, so I usually look for moments and images that tell a story or create beautiful lines and shapes.  I didn’t think I had a preference in light direction, until…

My recent Boat Shoot.  I was boarding the second boat and heard my clients tell the captain to get into a position where my clients’ boat was backlit.  The captain quickly turned to me like that must be wrong.  I just nodded in agreement and probably wore a surprised look on my face.  Gosh, my clients know me well!  :)

Here are some recent side-by-side examples of back light versus direct light (displayed in that order) of the same subjects, during the same shoot, shot within minutes apart, so you can see the differences.

Example 1

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Example 2

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Example 3

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Example 4

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*PHOTOGRAPHY TIP*

As you can see, there are significant differences between back light and direct light.

There are also merits in both kinds of light!  Back light is more moody with softer colors, but also have softer details.  Direct light has more vivid, saturated colors with greater details, but also has shadows.

If you could choose, which light do you prefer?

Personal Brand Photography

Guess what?  I now offer Personal Brand Photography!  This is THE funnest niche of business photography ever, so I am very excited.

What is Personal Brand Photography?

Think Executive Headshots on vacation.  Or Commercial Photography meets Instagram and had a baby – haha.

In a nutshell, Personal Brand Photography (PBP) is photography that produces a series of storytelling images of an entrepreneur.  It covers a part of the entrepreneur’s life while embodying their personality and includes detail shots.  Unlike a headshot session, not every image will contain the entrepreneur’s face, and you’d get a greater variety and number of images to use for your online presence.

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Who is Personal Brand Photography for?

Personal Brand Photography is perfect for entrepreneurs who want a plethora of fresh images they can use for regular posting on Instagram or other social media sites or for using multiple images on a webpage.  Entrepreneurs such as, consultants, makeup artists, stylists, bloggers/writers, social media influencers, web designers.

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Why do you need PBP?

Because doing business means connecting with your customers, and that means having photos that convey who you are, so others can relate to you and want to work with you.

Your brand needs to be clear as well as eye-catching.  Customers are more photo-savvy than ever before, and they can spot stock photos or staged photos from miles away.  Be real!

For businesses that do better with social media platforms, you have to post regularly to get traction, visibility and solid brand identification.

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How does PBP work?

Each shoot is different, and always fun.  It can be of you working or walking around town or your morning coffee routine — whatever story you want to convey.  Nothing is stagnant, so your images aren’t stuffy.

Each session includes a consultation so your shoot will be specific to what you need, unlimited images taken, edited high resolution photos of storytelling images, images of you, and detail images.  You’d also have Usage Rights of those photos, all delivered via a cloud site, so you can retrieve your images lickety-split.

The INTRO price is $750 for your first session, which is 1 hour long and will garner about 50 images.  This would provide you with approximately one image to post on social media each week for a year, or if you post everyday M-F, it is about 2.5 months worth of imagery.

Think of the Marketing boost you’d get!

Now what?

Start by booking your first shoot (do it now while it is at the Intro price!) and you can always book more later when your business needs another boost.

Or, book a few shoots throughout the year right now, so you can secure the price and dates, and we can shoot in different locations or different seasons!

How to Shoot in Low Light

I love light and airy images.

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Sometimes the weather doesn’t provide glorious sunlight like the one above.  Womp womp.  (That’s the sound of the wrong answer in those old game shows – haha!)

Maybe it’s foggy with no sun.

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Or it’s evening.

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Sometimes my shoot is indoors, and most venues don’t have glass ceilings like this one.

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In fact, some places will be dark, like really dark.  Think small apartment in the city with one window.

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Or an indoor market packed with people on a rainy day.

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Or in a dark corridor of gum.  Okay, that’s just gross.

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I took most of these example photos during my trip to Seattle a few months ago.  This is how the photography tip came to mind…

We went inside Chihuly, an art museum of glass installations, and the only lights were ones carefully positioned towards the artwork — so it was very dark.

I watched visitors photograph the gorgeous delicate glass…with flash.  They’d look at their photo at the back of their cameras with disapproval and take the same shot again.  I wished I could’ve said something, but it wasn’t my place.  So I closed my mouth and popped my eyeballs back into head, and decided to put this tip together instead.  LOL

This tip is simple and can even help phone camera photos!

*A SIDE-BY-SIDE COMPARISON*

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EXPLANATION

Image A = AUTOMATIC.  In low light, your camera will detect it is dark, so when it is in Auto, it will want to brighten the image to what it thinks the exposure should be on a regularly lit day.  By doing so, it can trigger the flash or reduce the sharpness of your photo by slowing down your shutter to attempt to let in more light.  The result = a photo I’d delete.

Image B = No flash and PARTIAL AUTO (ie, shutter-priority or aperture-priority).  I let my camera guide me to what it thought was “proper exposure” for the art installation without the use of flash.  The result was pretty good.  However, if I look closer at the image, I can see some detail of the glass was lost.

Image C = MANUAL, no flash, and slight UNDER-exposure.  To capture the most detail in the glass work and the true shade of the artwork’s color, I under-exposed the image by 1 or 2 stops.  The result is a more dramatic, striking image.

 

LOW LIGHT PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

Start by taking your camera off Auto, so you have more control of the settings.  [If you're using your phone, you can turn off your flash.]

When there is low light, consider underexposing your image to get your desired result.  You can do that by changing one of the elements in the exposure triangle — such as, decreasing your aperture (increasing your f/) or increasing your shutter speed.  If you want a refresher, here is an article I wrote many moons ago (with cool drawings from my daughter):  Understand Exposure in Under 10 Minutes.

[You can even do this on your phone!  When you have the image you want to photograph, using your iPhone, touch the screen, and then carefully move your finger in a downward motion on the screen to lower the exposure.  Other smart phones work similarly and also allow for some manual setting changes.]

 

Want more tips about light?  Here are a couple more:  Low Light+No Time and Editing with Different Light Sources.

If this tip helped even 1 person, I’d be thrilled!  xo, annie

Meaning of Life

My photoshoot of Tim and Jen’s family was my last one of the year, and it made me contemplative.

Perhaps it was because I had the spirit of Christmas coursing through my veins, but I was thinking how their photoshoot perfectly culminates the meaning of life.  Let me explain.

It had been about a year and a half since I last saw Tim and Jen.  During that time, they got pregnant and had their 4th baby!  Also during that time, there were big events around us, including deadly wildfires, which made us postpone their shoot 3 times.  So this was their 4th photoshoot date!  Though disappointed, we rolled with the punches and were grateful for when we saw each other.  We even recognized a few benefits of this later shoot date:  baby Mia was more social and there were fewer people at the park.

At the shoot, the older siblings kept hugging and kissing their baby sister, unprompted.  The affection and easy playfulness between everyone was peppered by Tim’s humor, which always makes me laugh.  And my catch-up time with Jenny highlights how fortunate I am to have clients who’ve become friends.

Seeing the silverlining, spending quality time with family, loving unconditionally… this is how life should be. ❤️

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I Really Do

With the end of the year rounding the corner, I look back and think of all the things that made me laugh, brought me a sense of wonder, or made me stronger.

These “things” always boil down to events and personal experiences, never material items.  I only hope that my kids feel the same and can appreciate experiences more than possessions, even into adulthood.

One of the experiences that consistently brings me gratitude and joy is when I’m on a client shoot, I get to play with kids and watch them grow up year after year.  [Fun little secret:  When I worked in the Corporate World, I’d be one playing with the kids at company parties!  I’ve always loved kids.]  Also, catching up with clients (the adult ones) is like drinking hot cocoa with mini marshmallows after a day of skiing.  It’s relaxing, comforting, and sweet.

I can’t say this enough, I have the best job in the World.  I really do. 

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True Colors

One of my favorite songs from the ’80s came to mind when I was photographing the Masse Family.

So don’t be afraid to let them show
Your true colors
True colors are beautiful
Like a rainbow

This was not only because there were amazing colors in the environment and in their clothing, but also this was their second shoot with me, and I could tell they were very comfortable being their true selves.  And these colors were beautiful.  ❤️

Wishing you all a happy holiday season and a new year of sharing and appreciating the colors around us.  xo

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Dragon’s Lair

Sometimes my shoots take me to far away lands, like in a dragon’s lair where we were engulfed by the hazy breath of these mystical creatures.  We had to hide in crevices, climb up on boulders, and prepare to fight with long sticks.

Kim and Ashish kept their family safe and warm, as usual, and thankfully didn’t encounter dragons… THIS time.

Wishing you all great adventures – both real and imaginary.  xo 

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Fly on the Wall

Last weekend, I was THE happiest fly on the wall.

I followed around Erin, Pete, Clara, Greta and Lola as they walked around their neighborhood, visited a bakery, cut plants in their backyard, and hung up ornaments on their fresh Christmas tree.  I had the pleasure of capturing a slice of their life during this holiday season.

Home Lifestyle Shoots have a different pace than my regular Lifestyle Shoots because there is less direction and set-up, so the resulting photos are more storytelling images.  It was a lot of creative fun, but even more so, it was soooooo nice to see this family again.

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Sunny

After weeks of devastating wildfires here in Northern California, hazardous smoke choking the air, and now heavy rainfall, it is a visual breath of fresh air to look at these incredibly warm and sunny images from Courtney’s Senior and Family Shoot.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

In fact, everything about this shoot was sunny, not just the sky.  The bond of these siblings; the laughter from poking fun at one another, like Ted and his inseparable bag (tee hee); the bold and playful family who danced, jumped, and pretended to be zombies — the funny kind.

Regardless of what is going on around us, feeling sunny sure makes things better!

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Meet KJ

Meet KJ.

He has squishy cheeks and soft golden brown hair.  He knows how to self-soothe his teething woes.  Swinging makes him sleepy.  His face lights up with the sight of a cutie orange.  He will look at anyone who calls out the name of a fruit.  He is an expert crawler, but wet grass is yucky.  He loves playing with dad and snuggling with mom.  His mouth is leaky, but he doesn’t mind because he’s a mellow fellow.  He loves his Air Jordan sneakers because they match his dad’s.

And today he is one! ❤️

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Happy 1st birthday, KJ!

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