Today’s Seniorologie 101 post is by the super talented Claire of Clara Bella Photography! Claire’s work caught my eye and I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in being a guest blogger for Seniorologie! I knew she would have some great information to share with other photographers and this first post is just an example of the great things she will be sharing as a guest blogger!! Check out Claire’s post below all about backlighting! Thank you for sharing with us Claire!!
Well hello there! I’m so excited to be here with y’all, sharing a little about what I have learned over the years. I’m not going to lie, when Leslie reached out and asked if I would be interested in being a guest blogger for one of my fave Senior Education blogs/magazines, I was absolutely thrilled! Back when I first started my photography journey, over 6 years ago now, I wish I would have known of an educational source like Seniorologie, to help me along the way. So now I really do enjoy helping other photographers, who are either just starting out, or just want to learn more.. which is something I think all of us should constantly be doing anyway!
I tried to think of a topic that I hadn’t seen a lot of, but also would be of interest, and most importantly be a topic I feel like I would be knowledgeable enough to speak about; so hello glorious backlight! I decided to start with this topic because it’s really what helped me define “my style” which is something I struggled with for years. Once I was able find my style, everything else with my business, as far as branding goes, really started to fall into place
Let’s start with the definition of backlight:
illumination from behind.
Sounds easy enough, but what about the front light? I thought I would start with an example of a not so well example of backlight – due to poor front light. (This is obviously not my photo, however I wanted to find one that would be pretty recognizable to the mass population!
I’m pretty sure every photographer around the world cringed when they saw this not so nicely backlit photo, which was released as their first official family photo I might add- taken by grandpa! Nothing against grandpa, but this is just another example of “you get what you pay for!”
Achieving a nice “front light” (I think I just made that word up!) is almost just as important, if not the most important, when trying to achieve the perfect backlight.
Now there are several ways to go about properly front lighting your subject. For me personally, I like to use a large white reflector and place my subject so the sun/light source is behind them. Another key thing to add is I always shoot about 2 hours prior to sunset when the sun is just above the horizon to get that really dreamy feel. The first image pictured is with the sun slightly to the left of her, the second image is with the sun directly behind her, but it is being clipped/blocked by the trees (I love me some yummy bokeh!) and the last image is with the sun directly behind her and nothing clipping the sun, or as I like to call it, “ full sun”. Below I will explain a little more about the 3 different ways I like to capture backlight.
Full sun vs. Clipping the Sun
Example of full sun in lens:
Same scenario, but using my hand to “clip” the sun:
Personally, I love the look of both photos – The first has a much warmer, dreamier feel and the second is sharper with more natural skin tones. When I first started shooting for backlight, I thought it had to be left to chance rather than understanding how I could actually control the situation, so one day I put my hand up to block the sun, got my focus and clicked! Who knew by simply using my hand I could literally create 2 entirely different looks! I know the first image may not be for everyone, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest shooting all your images this way, but I like to give my clients a variety of images and looks. Some love it and some don’t, but at least it’s something different, and let’s us get a little creative!
I know backlight can be achieved numerous ways, but this is just what has worked great for me, and keeps my clients coming back! I will never forget the first call I got from someone when they pointed out that they loved my images because of the “lighting in the back” – I was ecstatic!
Of course like anything else, practice makes perfect! My advice for someone who usually steers away from the sun is to go out, use your hand or find something to block the sun – like leaves, trees, a building etc. – and see what you create! Who knows, you just may find your new style!
I hope you enjoyed this post! Please feel free to email me with any questions. I tried to keep it as short and sweet as I could while still being informativeHappy shooting!