Project 26

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Light Someone recently asked me which was more important to producing a good photograph, light or a quality lens. The answer is simple, but not always obvious. With a poor lens and a good light a photographer can produce a worthwhile picture. With bad light and the best lens / camera combination, it is much more difficult to come up with a final product that satisfies the shooter.

The very word “photo” comes from the Greek for light. What photographers do is understand the effect of light on a subject, they manipulate light through the use of flashes, reflectors, snoots, softboxes, they measure light with meters and in camera, and they turn light to their advantage.

To understand the use of light you can read any number of books or articles by masters like Joe McNally. While we snappers might never produce something of that quality, if we start to understand how light can be used to our advantage then we can’t help but become better photographers.

The pictures below are from a lighting course I took at a local college. We spent 10 evenings on lighting under the tutorship of an experienced commercial and fashion photographer. We studied how the camera sees light, how to expose for snow or black, how to use light to emphasise texture, how to use fill flash, a vital introduction to how light works and how to shape it.

Using sidelighting to emphasise texture


Backlighting, used to produce edging highlights


And top-down lighting…


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Kids Or children, or babies. The baby photography market is a strong one and growing all the time as new, proud parents see the quality of work that’s out there and decide that little Jemima would look simply adorable tucked up in a washing basket. With a buttercup on her head.

Baby photography has come a long way since the days of Dad taking snapshots. And like all other areas of photography, digital has made a massive difference in terms of accessibility and affordability. You will still pay for the services of a professional baby photographer, but offers through people like Groupon and Wagjag have opened the market up even further.


But, be sure to check out the photographer first, check their portfolio, get some reviews and feedback if you can – just because someone has a professional-sounding studio name and a half-decent website does not mean that they will be able to meet your expectations, or that they have the experience necessary to get a great portfolio of little Jemima once she starts to get upset.

And remember, Anne Geddes has a lot to answer for!

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