May 2, 2009

Engagement Shoot Tips #2

I know, I know… it’s been a long time coming. I started this engagement shoot tips series several weeks ago and then got distracted. Well, I’m back on track. My goal is to have a tip for every week in May!

So, without further ado…

Tip #2: Lighting is EVERYTHING.

I know there is a myth out there that photographers are superheroes. As much as I hate to discourage this line of thinking, the reality is that photographers can’t move mountains, fly around the earth or turn things to gold. And, as much as I’d like to say otherwise, we can’t make magic in bad lighting situations.

I realize that my clients can’t always control everything (this goes for weddings, too). However, engagement sessions are one of the few times when we (you + me) have complete control over the shoot. Since–for most people–they only do engagement photos once, why not align the stars so that every possible detail is considered? Hint: the next tip will be about “staging” your engagement sessions.

To a photographer, good lighting is the equivalent to a tuned guitar, tightly laced ballet shoes… you get the point. It is the number one factor in creating a good photograph. What is good lighting, you ask? Even, filtered and soft natural light. The rule of thumb is that the best time for photographs is either an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset. The reason for this is that the sun is not directly overhead. Actually, the less direct sunlight, the better! Too much sunlight creates harsh shadows, dramatically affects skin tones, causes clients to squint, etc.

Here are some photos that illustrate this point:

In direct sunlight:

In shade/cloud coverage:

A couple of hours before sunset:

An hour before sunset:

Can you tell the difference? Not only do the photographs look better in correct light, but the couples look better, too! So, this is why I’m always trying to urge clients to get up at the crack of dawn. I know–and now you know–that there are ways to create the best possible photographs before I even pull out my camera.