Photography Styles: Natural Light and Airy vs Dark and Moody

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Photography Styles: Natural Light and Airy vs Dark and Moody with Vanessa Joy

If you’ve been in the photography business for a while, you already know that mood is a huge component of any picture you take. Do you want your photo to be bright and airy? Do you want a dark and moody vibe? Knowing how to create the right kind of atmosphere around a portrait or candid shot is an important skill if you want to keep your clients coming back for more.

In this post, I’m going to give you some tips on how you can make your photos light and airy or dark and moody—all in the same location! I’ve used the techniques discussed below in my business for years, and trust me, they really work. Let’s start with how to achieve that light and airy style.

Tips For Making Your Photos Light and Airy

The first step you can take to give your photos that light and airy look is to shoot directly into the light. Use a reflector to shine the natural light of your background cleanly onto your subject’s face. The effect will be light coming from both behind and in front of your subject, literally surrounding them. If you snap a photo in a bright outdoor environment with this setup, you may not even need a super high shutter speed or ISO to get the result you want; I’ve taken photos with a 1/125 shutter speed, an ISO of 400, and an aperture setting of f/2.2 and gotten great pictures! 

What if you don’t have a big, bright window as a backdrop? If you can find a natural light source that’s bright enough for side lighting of your subject, you can position your reflector on the opposite side to fill in the shadow, and shoot your photos in the same way. You may want to adjust your shutter speed a little bit (for instance, go to 1/200), but as long as you’re taking a frontal picture with a fairly light background, you should be able to achieve that “airy” style you’re looking for.

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