Are you wondering how to use the summer light to get amazing photos? My motto has always been “shoot for the light and not the location.” I say it all of the time. I tell my clients when I am photographing their sessions, and I tell my students when I am teaching them…I even tell my husband when he’s taking travel photos with his smartphone. If you learn how to use the light correctly, it will make your photographs go from mediocre to absolutely amazing! And what better time to use light than on these long summer days.
Once you learn how to use the summer light it is not that hard; it just takes practice. Pick a summer weekend, follow these basic steps, and start using the summer light to get amazing shots!
Pay attention to whether the light is “hard light” or “soft light”
Hard light creates sharp shadows. There is a hard contrast to this light. It is the light produced on a bright sunny day with almost no clouds in the sky. The smaller the light source, the stronger the light. Most people will avoid hard overhead light, but I want you to search for it. Summer is the perfect season to seek out that hard light. Look for the strong light coming through the trees, the bright reflections coming from the metal of a playground slide, or the reflections of a water fountain. Don’t avoid it. Today I want you to seek it out.
Soft light is more gentle, soft, and understated. It is the light that comes when the sun is diffused through the trees or is lower in the sky. Soft light’s transition is much more subtle and soft and tends to be much more flattering than hard light.
When learning the light, soft light is by far the easiest to use. It softly falls over your subject, almost wrapping them in light.
Use the light to set the mood in your photograph
Photography is about telling a story, and you can use the summer light to help tell that story. How do you want your photo to feel? Different types of light evoke different emotions.
Hard light creates more of an edgy look. It’s great for showing the heat of the summer in a city.
Soft light is used to create emotion, nostalgia, and can be used to portray tender moments at the beach.
Flat light is often forgiving and used when the photo itself is full of character, and the light doesn’t need to be the star.
Backlight tends to lend itself to a more nostalgic look. It is the light that you get during the golden hour.
Play with the light during the Golden Hour
The golden hour is one hour before sunset. The light is magical… golden and wraps itself perfectly around your subject. And there is no better time than the summer to get out and play with the light of the golden hour.
Play with Backlight and Silhouettes
Head to the beach as the sun is setting and play with the perfect silhouette. Anything can create a silhouette, just make sure that it has a distinct form. Nothing memory is better than capturing your kids looking off into the distance as the sun is slowly setting. Have fun when creating those memories.
Whatever summer light you choose to practice with, have fun, enjoy yourself and remember to look for the light and not the location!