by Amy Frazier
Republished with permission from Digital Photography Blogs
We always talk about the wonders of using great light in photography, but don't forget that you can also play around with that light-moving your subject around and experimenting with the shadows that are made-to create interesting portraits.
The key to creating really strong, contrasting shadows in your portraits is to place the light source directly off to the side of your subject. I'm not saying you can't create cool shadows by lighting a portrait in other ways. I've seen some really interesting portraits with the light source coming from above or below the subject, as well. You just have to be careful about getting unflattering shadows in those situations, especially on the face. A strong light source just off to the left or right of your subject usually works best. In the photo above, the early evening sun was coming in through a window and hitting my husband's side, creating all kinds of cool shadows in the folds of his shirt.
Another tip to creating really contrasting shadows is to shoot in-camera black and white or convert it in Photoshop later. Having your subject in front of a dark background makes the light and shadows play really well together here, too, since you are not distracted by clutter or other objects in the photo.
You can experiment with lots of different kinds of light in your photos to get cool shadows. Try using a remote flash or turning off all overhead lighting indoors and pointing one light directly at the subject. Or, like in the two photos above, simply put your subject in front of a window and play around with different angles.
The two images above are another example of angling yourself and
your camera to capture shadows. I moved just a foot or so and the
light hit my son's face in a completely different place. The shot
on the right is taken directly above my subject with the light
coming in from a window to his side, whereas in the photo on the
left, I positioned myself on the other side of the light source so
that I could capture that whole side of his face in dramatic
Capturing interesting and dramatic shadows really is all in how you position yourself in relation to where your light source is. And it pays to take lots of shots and experiment with what looks good to you.
Usually found changing diapers with one hand while shooting with her Nikon in the other, Amy Frazier shares tips on getting the best shots of your kids and explores the road to becoming a professional children's photographer. She can also be found at Flickr -- where she takes pictures every day -- and on her personal blog, Girl's Life.
Photos courtesy of and copyright by Amy Frazier.