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The beautiful light that hits my son's crib in his nursery

Keeping Photography Lighting Simple // My Photographic Technique

I have always followed the philosophy of keeping my photography lighting simple. I strive for that dreaded, overused word “authenticity” in my images, especially on wedding days and for engagement sessions. Even for the “posed” pictures. To me, this evokes so much more than just “that’s a pretty picture”. A great photo should elicit a multitude of emotions. The main element in my palette for achieving this is keeping everything simple. Especially the key element of lighting.

Simple Photographic Lighting

Simple lighting in photography doesn’t just mean “natural light”. That would be a huge mistake and VERY limiting. Simple lighting can mean lighting at night, at a wedding reception, all of which require alternate photo lighting. By simple lighting I mean lighting that highlights the subject without the viewer realizing what type of light it is. Natural lighting (no alternative power sources) is the first choice for most photographers, but it’s not always feasible. So, again, simple lighting means that the lighting technique isn’t always obvious.

Natural Light Photography

Some of the best light the I’ve used recently is right next to my son’s crib. So, some of my best images of him are immediately after his naps. This reminds me to always keep an open mind when it comes to searching for quality light. Great light for pictures can be ANYWHERE. I once found great light for a bride on a wedding day in a restroom (see below).

Beautiful photography lighting
The beautiful photography lighting that hits my son’s crib in his nursery
bride in front of red wall in cleveland
Bride in a salon restroom using a wall sconse for light


Constant Light Source

There are times when the ambient light is so beautiful that I use it exclusively. For this picture below, I used the ceiling can lights to light the couple. Note that the light highlights them. Everything else draws you to them.

Using beautiful available light from a ceiling can light in Zocalo's
Using beautiful available light from a ceiling can light in Zocalo’s in downtown Cleveland

Here is another picture that is, essentially, the exact same pose. Only this time I used two speedlites to light the face and to rim light them. The “quality” of the light is the same, even though I added it with the flashes.

man kisses woman on cheek during engagement pictures in cleveland
Using two Canon flash units to create simple but quality light on these two

The light draws you to Sandra’s face. You can’t look anywhere else without coming right back to her face and her fantastic expression. The shadow of the nose drops a little farther than I would like but, really, that is nit picking.

Those two engagement pictures are excellent examples of what I’m referring to when I say simple photographic light or quality photographic light. Just enough light to highlight what I’m trying to draw the eye to and creating enough shadow to make the picture texturally interesting. This is SO important in my wedding photography and my photography in general. If I can achieve this in my pictures, I feel that I’ve been successful.

See More of My Wedding Photos