How To Find The Light

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Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

As photographers, we’re all light seekers. For us, it’s all about finding the quality of light. What are you drawn to? What makes you tick? Me and Suzi have talked before that light almost becomes another character in a photo. The delicate thread that weaves through an image to create an emotional connection to the viewer. So how do you start really seeing the light? On our last retreat, we talked about what’s helped us see it, but I think this should really be how we FEEL it. How does it make you feel when you see backlit grass bending in the early evening breeze, or the spot on the stairs illuminated in the morning through the bannister? Maybe it’s how you feel when you see the shadow of leaves on the trunk of the old oak tree dancing in the dappled light.

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If me and Suzi had a choice, we would probably choose to shoot our family portraits in the golden hours permanently. Those times just after sunrise, or just before sunset. Of course it’s not always practical, but give it a try if you can, you will really see a difference. Are you drawn into delicate light, all dreamy and ethereal? This will more than likely be BACKLIGHT. Gossamer threads and subtle golden tones.

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The sun will be behind your subject. Using light in this way, you can achieve that beautiful rim light too that really helps to create depth in your images. You may want to try a silhouette of your subject, if not, over expose for your subject. You might find it a bit harder to focus, so we often manually focus when we’re using backlight.

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

Sometimes we’ll battle with the harsh overhead sunlight that midday can bring. Living in the Pennies though, we do often come across those dull overcast days, and we don’t mind shooting in these at all. EVEN or DIFFUSED light doesn’t have to be flat. You might want to think about the location you’re shooting in so depth comes from the positioning of your subject.

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If it's absolutely bucketing down, it’s probably not going to be too much fun for anyone, but try getting out just after the rain – the light can be lovely. Catchlight in your subject’s eyes can really make your images pop. Windows to the soul.

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

I've always been drawn to the dark, but a dark that's shattered by a pop of light, whether from a window, a gap in the trees, or a sunny spot on a staircase. Especially with shoots in a family home, I look for this type of light. FRONT LIGHT can be very dramatic, contrasty and like a theatre spotlight. I love finding this light, and more often than not, it’s spilling onto the stairs. I have a whole series of these ‘kids on the steps’ shots!

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

Using it outdoors can give such a strong feeling to an image too, just be careful not to have your subject squinting into the light.

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SIDE LIGHT from a window can provide lots of atmosphere in a shot. It's best to turn off interior lights indoors. We love the way the light hits one side of the subject’s face and then drifts into shadow. It gives a cinematic quality, a moment suspended. It's the light that really makes me tick. Suzi always knows when I've found it as I'll take a sharp intake of breath!

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

If you’re interested in this type of light too, maybe just have a Google at some of those Dutch Masters, and look how they created such feeling in their paintings. Those subtle contrasts and shadows, and how they managed to capture the beauty in the everyday in such a striking way. To me, they are the ultimate light seekers. I love its constant pull. It can really help to reflect a tender moment,

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Here’s an easy exercise if you want to find YOUR light. Pick out your favourite photos from your Insta feed, look at Pinterest, or photos you are drawn to in magazines, and look for the signature light. Print them out and put them in front of you if you can. How does it make you FEEL when you look at the collection?

When you’re next on a walk, or even just doing things round the house, just see how the light falls at different times of the day. As the sun is getting lower in the sky this season, the quality of light changes. Warm and golden, drawn out shadows, it’s a great time to get out and experiment!

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

What I love about photography is just by using your feet around your subject, and using all the different angles of light, you can get so many different feelings in quite a short space of time.

We do talk about light a lot on our retreats as we feel so strongly about the way you use light can really help consistency in your work. We still have early bird places available for our next Capturing Childhood on the 30th and 31st March 2019. Over the weekend, we go a lot deeper into how we can use light to reflect emotion, through exercises and practicals. If you’d like more information, here’s the link to our retreat page.

If you think this post it could help anyone, please do share. And if you’d like to ask us anything about light, how to use it, how we use it, just let us know. And most of all, happy light seeking!

Sarah Mason Photography Yorkshire Portraits Family Photographer

Capturing Childhood - Taking Better Photos Of Your Kids Part 2

Following on from Part 1 the other day which you can see here, this post is all about composition and creating depth in images. Hopefully these tips will make your photos pop, and help to capture the essence of your kids and their little characters!

COMPOSITION

It's not the easiest thing to think about composition when your kids are racing around, but it does help your photos stand out. It's not always about positioning your subject in the middle of the frame looking right at you (although this can look great too), images can be wonderful with the subject positioned  to one side of the frame with lots of negative space.  

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You can have a quick Google at the rule of thirds if you're not familiar with this one. I wouldn't sweat over it, but it sometimes helps. Also, look for natural frames, a frame within a frame, we love looking for these.

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Yorkshire Portrait Photography Sarah Mason Photography

POINT OF VIEW

One of the first things we say to folk when they ask for help with photographing kids, is to get down to the child’s level. I have what I call my photographer’s knee, all my jeans are slightly more worn on the right knee, as this is where I bend!

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

Or sometimes you’ll find me lying flat on the floor too. Try standing over your child too looking down. 

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

CREATE DEPTH

Sometimes images can look a bit flat, and don't quite turn out how we're seeing with our eye. One tip for this is to create some depth in your images, use lines like paths and trees to lead into your subject.  

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

You can also shoot through things too like grass and leaves, by having them in the foreground and your subject further away - this gives the image another dimension.

Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography
Yorkshire Portrait Photographer Sarah Mason Photography

These tips are certainly not exhaustive, but we do hope they help in some way. In the next post we'll have a look at photographing details, movement, and finding your style.

And if you're interested in any of our training courses, please do let us know so we can put you on the mailing list. Our next retreat is Capturing Childhood on September 22nd & 23rd this year. Do you want to take better photographs of your little people? Are you just setting up your portrait photography business and want to take beautiful emotive shots that really make you feel? Our Capturing Childhood weekend offers a unique opportunity to learn new skills and techniques to create photos of those real moments that make your heart skip a beat. There's a link to more information about the retreat here.

As always, if you'd like to share any of your photos - we'd love to see them!

Looking Back at 2015

To the leaf kickers, the wind in your hair thrill seekers, the sand in your hands and the grass beneath your feeters. The outdoor wanderlust types or the stay at home cosy mites. The tree huggers and the big kiss on the cheekers, the wild things in the woods and the sofa surfers.

To the movers and shakers, the hand holders and dream makers. The puddle jumpers and the meadow runners, the grass stalkers and dusk walkers.

Thank you for your support in 2015, and for letting us into your lives. Here are just a few of the moments we shared last year.

Sarah & Suzi xx

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