The importance of lighting in photography

The lighting is very important in photography especially in portraiture and fashion. A great portrait and fashion photographers knows how to use lighting to add interest to photos and create different moods. The right type of lighting can make subjects look great whereas the wrong type of lighting such as flash can make the subject look unflattering. 

The lighting in outdoor photography

A midday sun is probably the worst kind of light that you can have when taking photographs and those who know anything about photography avoid it if possible and if not shoot either in the shade or manipulate it / soften it. Why? Because it is too harsh and unflattering and the position of sun above creates some very harsh shadows on people’s face. It is low in saturation and makes any photograph to look dull. Professional photographers avoid shooting at midday and if they don’t have a choice than end up manipulating the light but unless you have the right equipment and knowledge for this my advice would be to avoid this of the day if your photos. 

The best light for shooting outdoors is often referred to as the ‘golden hour’ or ‘golden time’ and it is usually around one hour before sunrise and after sunset. The reason for this is that the angle of the sun makes it soft and rich in colours. The subjects photographed during the golden hour benefit from more beautiful and even light. One can create some breathtaking photos during this magical hour but light can change dramatically and one cannot always predict the weather especially in London! 

The lighting in the studio

The majority of portrait photographers use professional lighting in the studio but there are some photographer who prefer to use natural light even in the studio. The advantage of professional lighting is control and ability to shoot anytime even if it is already dark outside. In portraiture, the lighting can be used to create different moods which can add to the character of a person. For me the lighting is the most important - more important than the camera or the lens. However it is not about the brand but how it is used on the subjects. 


b/w portraiture of Craig McGinlay - the importance of lighting in photography

Zuzana Breznanikova is a celebrity portraiture photographer based in London. 


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