Finding the Light

In this very dark world that can sometimes get the best of us, I find it critical that we must always strive to find the light.  For me this applies to both my professional and personal life.

Finding the light is a part of my business.  If I do not have adequate lighting during a portrait session, then I cannot obtain the best possible image. It will appear dark and murky and the subjects eyes do not light up.  It is something that is always on my mind when planning for a shoot.  Just as location is important to a realtor, the light is very important to a photographer.

Part 1: Finding the light in my work

I am always looking for the light, and playing around with the direction my subject is facing. If you are facing a large wooded area, your face will be wrapped in darkness.  If you are facing a wide open sky, your face will be wrapped in the light.

Here are some ways to help find the light when taking someones photo:

  • When inside, position your subject near a window or doorway so that the light from outside will light their face. Take time to re-position them to find the best lighting, you will see catch lights in their eyes when the lighting is good. You may need to try the opposite side of the house depending on the time of day.
  • If outside, position your subject’s face away from trees and large buildings, these all can shadow the face. This can be accomplished many times by simply turning them around to face the better lit area and that may make all the difference in the world.
  • Baseball caps will always cause a shadow on the face, have your subject turn the cap around so you can more easily see their eyes.
  • Use a reflector. You can use a large white foam board as a home made reflector, position this board out in front of the subjects face and adjust until you see the light bounce back into their face (having a buddy hold this helps)
  • In winter, snow acts as one large natural reflector, have your subject stand and sit in the snow making sure that there is a lot of snow in front of them or near a large snow bank.
  • In summer, the lake or ocean act as large reflectors. Try to position your subject in an open area by the lake to light up there faces. Walking them out on the dock will help with this. When at the beach, wait to shoot at sunset once you do this you will know why. It is the ‘golden light’ hour.
  • Use an on camera flash to bounce light off the ceiling so the flash is not directly hitting their face. A direct flash is never the most flattering for anyone.
  • Keep studying the light at different times of the day.  The worst times to shoot outside is mid day 11am-3pm, early morning or late afternoon/early evening are always the most flattering.

Setting up my reflector to bring light into the subjects eyes           Bringing the subject close to the window to capture the natural light                 Using the reflector to bounce the light back into the subjects face.

Part 2: Finding the light in my personal life

There is so much darkness in our world today.  Almost every day we hear about school shootings, drug overdoses, suicides, car accidents, terrorist attacks,  someone newly diagnosed with an illness, and the list goes on and on.  The key point is, what are we all focusing on?  If we keep focusing on the darkness, it just gets darker. If we take our focus off the darkness to search for the light around us, our world gets a little lighter and a little brighter.  Sometimes it may be as simple as heading down a different road.   Our path to finding the light does not need to be complex.  There will always be someone who is worse off than you. Start by reaching out to others. It may come in the form of comforting a grieving friend, smiling at a stranger as you shop for groceries, making a meal for a sick friend, praying for other families who are struggling with a sick child, inviting a lonely friend to lunch, watching an uplifting movie, reading an inspirational book,  listening to music that makes you happy or spending the day at the beach with a friend.

It does not take a lot to bring the light into your world and to be the light in someone else’s world.

Here are some things that can help you to find the the light when darkness closes into your own world:

  • Express gratitude for what you have been blessed with, be grateful.
  • Be patient with yourself you are only human.
  • Take good care of yourself it helps let the light come in.
  • Reach out to others who are struggling, there will always be someone worse off than you.
  • Choose your battles carefully if something won’t matter 5 years down the road, then don’t spend 5 mins being upset by it.
  • Have courage during change, be brave.
  • Be vigilant in all aspects of your life.
  • Be fearless about banishing all negativity from your life.
  • Have the confidence when feeling pressured into something to say “ I am better than that”.
  • Get support from friends and/or professionals.
  • Be aware of your resistance to change, just because everyone else is doing it; many times the ‘status quo’ is not the light.
  • Pray, pray, pray as God’s Grace is abundant when you open your eyes and notice all of the small graces that He gives you each day.

I pray you find your light.

Be the light.

In everything you do.


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