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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Backlight vs Front-light | Weekly Photography Tips

This week's photo tip is on the difference between backlight and front-lighting.

Backlighting is where you photograph your subject with the light source behind them. The light is back behind them.

Front lighting is the opposite, where you are photographing your subject with the light shining directly on them. So the light source is actually behind you, as the photographer.

The way you choose to light your subject is 100% a personal choice. Different people prefer different looks, and that's all part of each of our own tastes and style.

I almost always choose to backlight my subjects. I prefer the look of it, it's easier on my clients, and it's just an all around more flattering look, I think.

Others might disagree.

Here's an example of the difference between backlight and front-light using the only photo-model I had during the time I was writing this post - my tripod. The photo on the left has the sun behind the tripod, which is backlighting the subject. The front of the tripod has even light all over it, and if that tripod was a person with eyes, they wouldn't be squinting because they would be facing away from the bright sun.
The photo on the right is front lit. I turned the tripod 180 degrees and now the sun is behind me, shining at my back, and shining on the tripod's face. This does 1 thing well - it makes the colors in the sky behind the subject a little more vibrant and colorful. But it also casts harsher shadows on the subject's face, and my #1 pet peeve as both a photographer and as someone getting photographed - when the sun is shining directly on the subject and they are trying to look at the camera, they will ALWAYS be squinty. Unless you let them wear sunglasses, that is.
LKR_6071 [If you have someone who can fight the squinting, you can do well with front-lit photos. This lovely lady was able to fight it and I love this image.] LKR_1639
I almost always choose to backlight my subjects, but that's not to say that's the right way or the only way. One tip on how to ease the squinty-ness of your subjects is to have them look away from you, or if there's two or more people, have them look at each other. That alleviates some of the squinting and still gives you the bold light directly on them, and gives you the bright sky behind them.

It's a personal preference - which do you prefer?

[Some more backlit photos] Blog6 LKR_3072 Freiday_0056

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