How To Find The Light

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!

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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 3

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If you've been following our tips for taking better photos of your kids over the holidays, and beyond, here's the last part. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here. In this part we'll look at movement, the details, shooting through the seasons, and finding your style. 

THE DETAILS
It's great  to take photos of the little details. It might be a favourite toy, little feet, sandy hands. Important details that make up the essence of a child.

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And then on the other hand, show the child in their environment, a small person in a big world.

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THE SEASONS

Shooting through the seasons can be a great way to document your family's story over a year. If you're starting out as a portrait photographer, it's a great way to build your portfolio. Maybe ask family and friends if you can take photos of them. Just having images of these different times of year can give your work a cohesive feel, and think about all that lovely light you're going to get! We always get very excited when a family books us for a winter shoot. Not only those big coats and bobble hats, but maybe there might be mittens on string, wellies, a flurry of snow, and of course, that gorgeous low light! You can always start or end the shoot at home where big mugs of cocoa are on hand.

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MOVEMENT

There is inevitably going to be some running and racing around, on our shoots we actively encourage it! If you have a DSLR, you will most probably have a setting on your camera that will continuously focus if this is what you’d like to go for. I like to freeze movement so I will have my shutter speed quite high.

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But sometimes I like to show movement too, so my shutter speed will be set to show running or a jumping on the bed moment!

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SETTINGS VS CREATIVITY

We talked about this a lot on our last capturing childhood retreat. The technical aspects are important so you're shooting knowing you're in control of your camera, but sometimes I think we can be panicking so much about what aperture and shutter speed we're on that we can miss moments. Those shots that even though may be 'technically imperfect', will still shine through as it gives you those goosebumps. I love this quote by Peter Adams; 'Great photography is about depth of feeling, not depth of field'.

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FINDING YOUR STYLE

It would be boring if we all took the same shot. That’s what makes me tick as a photographer, people’s interpretations. Try things out, experiment. You’ll start to see and feel something in your photos that you love, maybe it's the kind of light you like. Some of you will know that I've been enjoying taking freleensed shots in some of my portrait shoots. I detach the lens and then hold it close to the camera body. It can give a photo an ethereal, dreamy feel with different focal points and light leaks.

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PRINT YOUR IMAGES!

You often hear people saying that their most treasured possessions are their photos. For me, it’s the images of me and my sister growing up over the years, and the adventures we had. We still love to huddle around the photo albums, reminiscing days gone by. I'm so grateful for having these images printed. Something tangible to hold and touch. This feeling me and Suzi both had about our photos led us to create our own photo wallets for clients.

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We really hope you've enjoyed the Capturing Childhood blogs, and that they have been useful to you. We still have a couple of places left on our next Capturing Childhood Photography Retreat over the weekend of September 22nd & 23rd. Looks like we've got a lovely bunch of people coming from all over the country, and if you'd like to be part of it, we'd love to have you along. I can't tell you how much me and Suzi love these weekends, it's a safe learning environment with lots of practicals, discussions and lovely homemade grub! You can have a look at more information and book your place here.

In the meantime, if you do have any questions, me and Suzi would be happy to help, just ask away. Happy photographing, and maybe we'll see some of you on a retreat soon!

All the best

Sarah & Suzi x

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This Family Life - Rowan

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It's In The Look.

When  Rowan's Mum was booking this shoot, we had the most lovely email from her. In it she wrote; 'It's just occurring to me how much I want to capture the magic and wonder in Rowan's eyes, and the way she looks at us.'' Rowan is one of life's adventurers, and between the exploring, frog tickling and flower picking she did on her shoot, there were those beautiful moments where she was just looking with wide smiley eyes at her Mum and Dad. Here's Rowan's shoot...

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After our shoot together, Rowan's Mum left such kind words on our Facebook page. We always feel a bit funny about sharing this stuff, but these words just summed up why we do what we do; 'Sarah beautifully captured a time in our lives we will treasure. From our first enquiry to collecting our photographic prints, Sarah and Suzi have been a joy to work with. They both have a natural gift to put children at ease. Our daughter adores them. We couldn’t have been happier with the images and really appreciated the time Suzi took to advise us on our products. Until the next time, for I have a sneaking suspicion there will be many more, thank you both'.

As we are waiting for our own little one to arrive, we are slowing down on our family shoots and starting again in September. As we head into the first wave of autumn, if you'd like to book a shoot for your leaf kickers and light catchers, please do let us know.

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