Why is Lighting Important in Photography?


Have you ever wondered why your photographer insisted on a certain time of day or watched the weather in the days leading up to your photo session?

Why is Lighting Important in Photography?

Ashley Newman Photography

I have to start this blog post by telling you that this darling couple didn’t think they would be “photo worthy”. And now we can all laugh because they are EVERYTHING!!
I think it boils down to comfort level, honestly, and giving yourself permission to let loose and be vulnerable during having photos taken. Every story is important and worthy of being told.

Now…lighting. Let’s talk about lighting and why it’s so important.

For my work in particular and what I like, I crave that warm sunshine. Everything I do is light-driven. During our time together, I am constantly watching the light and adjusting to find the look I want.
In the days leading up to any session, I stalk the weather and keep a close eye on the trends so I know what to expect for the day of our photos. So to say it is important is an understatement- it’ll about the light!

Overcast vs Sunny- which is best?
I like them both, but prefer a sunny day if I can get it. Texas weather is so unpredictable but there are things to like about both. Overcast is not bad. Overcast skies create an even lighting situation that prevents harsh shadows on the skin and face, and can make for some pretty/dramatic skies.
Sunny days give that warmth and glow that I love (and creates the images I am most known for).
Mostly, I try to embrace whatever the day brings us and use the light to our advantage.

Another reason lighting is so important- it changes throughout the year. Because it changes, be prepared for timing and the color of the light to change. The sun rises and sets at different times and it looks different depending on the season. You can have warmer light at different times of the year, or more light if its winter, for example, and all the leaves have fallen off the trees. Having a photographer who is focused on light and understand how to make it work for them is important. They should be super familiar with their locations and be able to plan sessions around these seasonal changes.

Lighting creates emotion- You can use light to evoke feelings. Harsh lighting can give a moody or dramatic look. Softer lighting can feel more romantic or nostalgic. It’s important to know how your photographer uses light and consider how those images may your eel when you look at them. What look suits your family best?
Mahnoor has some amazing examples of how quickly light can change in a location as the sun sets.

Magic Hour and Blue Hour- If you have never heard of these terms, I urge you to look them up. When I first started my journey with photography 10 years ago, I had never heard these words before. They describe lighting and different times of the day. I used to schedule sessions when my client felt it worked best for their schedule. Now I consider the time of year and the pattern of the sun to determine what time a session is scheduled.
Magic Hour is generally 60-90 minutes before the sun sets. Or that first hour as the sun rises in the morning. Blue hour is that last bit of light before the sun sets. It completely changes your images and the way it looks when they are edited. A photographer who understands light can work in any situation, but in order to create the consistent images I am known for, light matters. 😉
Photo Traces has an excellent article on golden hour vs blue hour and how it affects images.

At the end of the day, trusting your photographer to know their locations, know the lighting and be able to plan a session that is incredible is really all that matters.
If your photographer contacts you to reschedule for a more ideal lighting situation, trust them!
If you want only a sunny day- tell them! Communication is so important to the creative process. Now, get out there and watch that sun!

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Hi, I'm Ashley!


About the Artist

Ashley Newman Photography is a Woodlands Family Photographer and Storyteller specializing in outdoor family photography. In addition to lifestyle family portraits, Ashley and her award-winning team offer day-in-the-life legacy sessions, outdoor maternity sessions, fresh 48 hospital portraits and in-home newborn photography. Ashley Newman Photography serves Montgomery county, North-Houston areas: The Woodlands, Spring, Conroe, Houston and Magnolia.

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