Look Into the Light

I recently did a test shoot with a model and found myself working really fast with available light and, on occasion, a simple reflector. A lot of folks would naturally put the sun behind their back to provide even illumination for the subject. I, however, recommend gravitating toward the opposite approach: put the sun at your subject’s back so that it creates separation and a rim light. This adds to the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional photograph, which naturally makes for more lively and interesting images. When doing this you’ll find a strong shadow side on your subject’s face, so to bring up the exposure without blowing out the background you’ll need a fill flash or strong reflector. This technique is particularly effective if you can get your subject positioned in the shade (for soft, even illumination) with a shaft of sunlight from behind to create the rim.

Taking the approach one step farther, though, is when this technique turns really fun. Shoot into the sun—like directly into the sun—and enjoy all the flare and backlit drama it will create. It adds a sense of spontaneity to the images, which not only makes up for exposure ìproblemsî (like blown out highlights and flare) but it makes them part of the charm. Take a look around at popular media and you’ll see this technique put into effect all over the place. From vitamin commercials to fashion magazine ads, shooting into the sun is a hot look. Lucky for you it’s also an easy one to create. Just put your subject between you and the sun, open up and shoot! To see more from my test shoot, check out my project gallery at Behance.net.


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