Are you planning on taking your own family portraits this year? Then the one thing that can make or break your photos is the light you use!
Here are 3 simple tips that will help you get flattering light for your portrait photos.
#1 – Look at your subject’s eyes
One super simple way to tell whether the light is flattering is to look at the eyes of your subject! The eyes will tell you everything you need to know about the light.
If your subject is struggling to open their eyes, then the light is too bright for them and you are simply going to end up with squinty eyed subjects. (Not exactly the most flattering look!)
In this case, all you need to do is turn your subject away from the light source (usually the sun!) instead.
On the other hand, if the eyes are dull and dark with no light in them, then you simply aren’t getting enough light on your subject, and your portrait will look dull and lifeless. This time, turn your subject around until you see the light hitting the eye and producing catchlights.
This means you will have found the best light for your subject!
#2 – Avoid Taking Pictures in Full Sun
Bright sunny days can actually be the WORST time to take portrait pictures. This is because the light is simply too strong and harsh to give you soft, beautiful light – the type of light that gives you flattering portraits.
If you want to get a good portrait, then I suggest that you try to move your subject into shade instead, so that they are out of the full glare of the sun.
Move your subject into the shade of a tree or a building. Have them on the edge of the shaded area, looking out into the light. This gets rid of the harsh sunlight, and will give you soft, flattering light instead.
Cloudy days can also be incredibly flattering for portraits, since the light is softer, and therefore more flattering.
If shooting indoors, then choose a window that does not currently have direct sunlight coming in, or any window on an overcast day.
#3 – Avoid taking pictures at noon
High noon, or the hours before or after it, are also the worst time for taking pictures!
This is because you are effectively lighting your subject from above. This causes shadow to fall in the eyes, giving that racoon eye look! Again, not the most flattering 🙂
Instead, choose a time of day when the sun is lower in the sky. The Golden Hour (which is the hour just before sunset or the hour just after sunrise) is the most pleasing, but I appreciate you may not wish to be up that early or keep your kids up that late! In which case, just try to shoot as early or as late in the day as you can, so that the sun is not directly above your subject.
There you go: three simple tips that will help you get the best light for flattering portraits!