Don’t Follow the Light. Follow the Source.

I’m about to get all metaphorical on you, so watch out… or hang tight… or just stop reading and go about your day.. haha!  But I need to put this down somewhere…

The details of her veil are lost…the excitement on her face is not.  Can you capture both? yes. But as of this moment, I’m not always bouncing fill light to even my exposure.. So to some, I will always be technically flawed…

I started the learning process of becoming a lifestyle photographer by shooting the portrait of a little four year old brunette beauty in her bedroom.  This most basic concept of her parents welcoming me into their home, to simply play with this little girl on her bedroom carpet where she was already so comfortable.  so at ease.  Her precious, and still baby squishy face was lit only by her bedroom window behind myself and my camera.

Skip to step two and I’m taking portrait sessions early in the morning when toddlers have their most happiest of  smiling “i slept great” faces on — and I’m beginning to understand how to plan portraits around a certain time of day that works well for my client as well as my light.

Finally, I’m catching two young siblings, right after their long afternoon nap, being let loose outdoors in a park at what photographers refer to as “the golden hour”… when the sun is setting and scattering a gorgeous soft golden light all over the horizon.  I’m not using  a flash to fill in their faces, thinking that might be too distracting, I just blow highlights that some professionals would scoff at –and try to capture the moment.

Not to get too deep into the process, but at some point over the course of this two – three year beginner phase, I also stopped deleting every single image that was slightly out of focus.  My ocd was was finally curbed by the understanding and input of others that SOMETIMES, the expression is priceless and worth any small technical flaw.

Soon that same understanding related to ALL the time.  The expression would always trump the technical.  The moment captured would ALWAYS trump the light… And if that’s the most basic equation to follow, then why am I not shooting at 12 noon if that works best for the client?  …so i did.  A spunky and sweet girl still close to me this day — picking strawberries in the high sun, middle of the day heat… And it was so beautiful.

AAAAAlllll that to say, it’s taken roughly 10 years to get to this place where I am completely comfortable following the source and not the light.  When all the perfect elements collide for a magic moment, joy and laughter and light and technical specs all line up for “THE ONE” !! yea.  it’s incredible.  But…

If you always follow the light, you will begin to see a repetition in your work.. The angles become the same, your settings become the same, even the way you capture your subject because you know how to manipulate that certain type of light…  And everyone will find some amount of repetition, it can be fulfilling to get into a comfortable groove from shoot to shoot.  But to maintain a steady growth and keep your learning curve on the rise, learn to follow the source of the energy.  Your subject.