The moment you realize you can customize the quality of the light you’re creating to fit the images you’re capturing is the moment you realize there is no one-size-fits-all lighting. With artificial light, we attempt to recreate light that occurs in nature. Absent that, lighting looks unnatural and in this photographer’s humble opinion ends up doing more harm than good. It ends up being a distraction rather than a supporting element.
The photo industry is obsessed with the young and the beautiful. That is why there are countless photographers taking photos of babies, flowers, and women in dresses. But that is easy! That’s what “works.” Of course babies are beautiful. The trick is finding beauty in less obvious places. Sujata Setia’s photography does just that. The beauty in her images does not come solely from her subjects, but also from the compelling narratives she conveys.
Storytelling is what we do as humans. It’s in the movies we see, the books we read, the music we listen to—it’s even in that commercial for your laundry detergent or favorite soft drink. Now more than ever, creating a narrative is the key to engaging an audience that is constantly bombarded by content—and more and more photographers are being hired to fabricate these stories for brands.
I find myself thinking in black & white. When creating a monochromatic portrait, I keep in consideration many specific elements such as composition, styling, editing, and lighting. Everything needs to be considered in such a way that it will work out in black & white.
Unless you are in a different business than I am, most of your bridal photography clients aren't going to be supermodels. They won't have years of experience giving the camera what it wants. However, every single one of them wants to look like the best version of herself on her wedding day and in all those gorgeous photos you are taking of her.
The one thing you can count on when you’re shooting on location is that you can’t count on anything except a variety of challenging lighting situations. These all fall squarely into what I like to refer to broadly as “bad light.” Bad light is any quality of light that is inconsistent with the lighting desired for the images you’re about to capture.
We need to have the ability to shoot when and where things happen. This means you will need to know how to handle direct sun. There is no reason to hide inside when the sun is high and harsh; we are going to show you how to get out there and shoot successfully.
The golden hour, in my opinion, is one of the great wonders of the world. The time of day just before sunrise or sunset (I prefer sunset) when the light streams in with its red and orangey glow, warm and oh-so-satisfying to bask in. As a photographer, there is literally nothing quite like shooting at this time of day.
Location-based photographers need to be able to create lighting under any circumstance, at any time. Once a photographer’s schedule becomes more and more filled as their business begins to grow, the luxury of shooting all clients during the beautiful, golden-hour, natural light will become a thing of the past.
Every location poses different challenges, but the results can be great when you get outside your comfort zone and work with a purpose. In this article, I will explain my creative thought process and cover the technical details I encounter when creating environmental portraits.