It’s All About the Lighting



This morning at garden club my friend Lynn was trying to get a photo of the hostesses. She had them lined up in front of the beautifully set dining room table with a pair of fabulous flower arrangements made by one of the hostesses. Being the busy body that I am I was looking over her shoulder as she was about to take the picture. The image I saw was as she was about to push the button was just outlines of three bodies since they were posed with a wall of glass doors behind them. I jumped in and turned the group so that the light from the windows was illuminating their faces and the dark of the room was behind them.


Now the ubiquity of cameras on every device we have has made taking pictures a regular occurrence and not the special thing it used to be when we had to pay for film and developing. The problem is that all the same rules for good photos exists with digital as it did with film, but very few people study the finer points of photography now that it is practically free.


Many people assume that photos can be fixed with the likes of Photoshop, which is true to only a point and by someone who is well trained. Great photographers all would prefer to get a well-lit shot from the start.


My interest in getting a good photo is a diet issue. The worst thing about being lit from behind is that the dark shadows on people’s faces renders them unidentifiable except by body shape. I hardly know a woman over forty who would like people to study the outline of her body, no matter how tight it is. When looking at a beautiful picture of someone’s face you tend to overlook imperfections, which we all have, even if it is just that you are not standing up as straight as possible. But looking at a dark outline it is hard to distinguish if that thing sticking out of the middle is a large stomach or just an elbow of a bent arm.


Do yourself, your friends and family a great service and never place them directly in front of a bright light source to be shot straight on. It is wonderful to take someone’s picture in front of a window if you have them stand with their shoulder on the window and you have the light coming across their face, but even that is a little advanced for most I-phone photo takers. The best rule of thumb is always having the photographers back to the light source shooting directly at the subject. A smiling beautifully lit face will always make the person in the picture look better and isn’t that what you want.


Here are two photos I grabbed from a 2001 scrap book to show you examples.  Who knows who those people in the pool are? (I do)  and here is one of Carter taken with the light from the side of the window.

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One Comment on “It’s All About the Lighting”

  1. Patti says:

    I remember that photo of Carter fondly and hope you and your lovely family are well and happy. It is with much love and immense sadness that I send this comment, but just wanted to send my love.

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