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How to shoot with a backlight? Useful hints for the photographer

How do you make the most of the opportunities and deliver captivating and beguiling photos to your clients?

It is common knowledge that one of the most important days in our lives is the wedding day. Obviously, the bride and groom have a burning desire to have a wide variety of photos, with different effects, backgrounds and compositions. How do you highlight the distinctive and unique features of the couple?  How do you make the most of the opportunities and deliver captivating and beguiling photos to your clients? A well-qualified photographer should be a real connoisseur of diverse techniques, right poses and choice of lighting. Backlighting is the process of illuminating of an object from the back, i.e. a light is placed behind or at right angles to an object, person, or scene to produce such effects as depth or separation of the subject and to choose background.


From the first impression it seems to be difficult, but there is nothing impossible for the artist! If you want to gain widespread fame, push artistic boundaries and to be a highly qualified photographer, you should fill your knowledge gap (if you have one) concerning backlight shooting. So here are some useful hints for you to use:


How to photograph weddings against the light

1. Diffuse the Sun

Make the light shine less brightly by spreading it in many directions, since the sun does not necessarily need to be full-framed. The subjects in the photo have to be exposed to the rays of the sun naturally, which is a challenging task, so try to diffuse the sun. The thing is that it is important to find a suitable place where the sun rays will partially cover the camera, but still let the light shine onto the subjects. To explore such effects of light you may choose locations with trees or buildings. This will certainly help you to create a beautiful backlit photo, and you don`t have to look for a location where you can`t diffuse the sun, e.g. an open field.


2. The right choice of time of the day

Despite the fact that you can shoot with a backlight at any time of the day, there are certain times when your photos will benefit from the pleasant sunlight in the most appropriate way. So, don`t be lazy; get up early in the morning to catch the sun rising or don`t miss the ineffable sunset (which is also called the golden hour). Being closer to the horizon, the sun touches the landscape surrounding your happy couple. Since you are eager to make some wedding photos, it will be extremely favorable for you to work during the golden hour to provide your photos with such an effect.

3. Use spot mattering and focus

To get accurate exposures, explore the effects of light while shooting. Besides, you should use spot mattering, as your camera's spot meter focuses on the subject and you can easily get the right exposure. It is a good device in combination with backlight shooting, which can be really helpful after becoming a little bit practiced.

Moreover, you can use manual mode when focusing rather than automatic. Shooting with this really isn’t as difficult as it may seem.  Besides, your camera may have some problems with focus if you take into consideration some specific light conditions, and that can lead to blurred pictures. That`s why you should just find a few seconds to switch to manual mode for your photos to make them high quality.

Since also understanding how to pose your clients during your shoot is important, read our Posing for the wedding photographer guide to learn additional tips and tricks!


4. Add flash

When it comes to backlight shooting, it is advisable to have a flash in your camera bag. It embraces usage in a diversity of ways. Just imagine, it can not only add light to your photos, but also an off-camera flash can act as a wizard, creating backlight to your pictures!

Photos shot with a backlight can be made without a flash, giving the opportunity for natural light to dissipate over the whole image. If you feel the style of your work needs to be dramatic, a flash may be a good friend for you. Just place it in front of the subjects, and you‘ll kill two birds with one stone: there will be enough sun and some light from the flash. Such a beguiling composition will assure the approval of your clients and they will contribute to your popularity by recommending you to their relatives and friends.

One more hint: If you are going to shoot with a backlight after the sun has set or when it is gloomy weather and the Star of Life is not visible enough, you may also ask a flash for a help. Place the light behind the subjects, and the rim of light will give the image a glorious and exquisite look.

So, to master the backlight shooting technique for a clever photographer is a definite must as it is considered to be an essential element of his or her professional competence. If you want to outperform your competitors, to receive marketplace recognition and to meet the aspirations of our generation you have to master this technique in an expert way. Develop your skills, focus on your work and keep up with the times! You should create albums, think over some new compositions, and use different techniques while shooting the wedding process!

If you don't have enough time to learn lighting technique, think about areas of your business that you can have others work on, such as your wedding photo editing. And the last, but not the least advice: take as many photos as possible - photo culling is the importaint part in wedding photo post processing!

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I'm Nataly O'Neill, photographer and journalist. Discover all wedding photography news.... more

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