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4 Tips for Shooting with Backlight

shooting with backlight

While you are shooting the bride and groom on the wedding day, there are many variables to think about – do you have the right poses? Are you confident in the shooting plan you have created for this location? Do you have the right lighting to deliver stunning images to your clients? Lighting is an important aspect of your shoot that can elevate your images from good to outstanding. Backlighting is a technique that you can use when shooting your subjects that allows you to shoot your subject directly in front of the light.

Though backlighting can be difficult to master at first, it is a helpful skill to have as a photographer. The more obstacles you can overcome as a photographer, the better chances that your clients will book you again or refer you to other couples who may be getting married soon. We’ve put together 4 tips for shooting with backlight to get you started today!

Download our Lighting Guide for Wedding Photographers here, and discover 26 key tips from Roberto Valenzuela’s #1 Best Selling Book, Picture Perfect Lighting!

1. Diffuse the Sun

With backlighting your subjects, the sun does not always need to be in the full frame of your camera. Knowing exactly how to master the sun flare look while still keeping your subjects properly exposed is not the easiest look to achieve, so start by diffusing the sun. Find a location where the sun can be partially covered by your camera, while still allowing the light to shine onto your subjects. Locations that can help accomplish this look can be buildings or trees. This will still help you to achieve a beautiful backlit portrait while not needing to be in a location that has nothing to diffuse the light with, such as an open field.

2. Choose the Right Time of Day

When it comes to shooting with backlight, this can happen anytime during the day; however, there are certain times when the sun will produce a beautiful glow that can really accentuate your images. Some of the best times to find this radiant orange glow is in the morning after the sun rises or right before it sets at the end of the day (often known as golden hour). When the sun is closer to the horizon, the glow permeates the landscape surrounding your couple. As you plan engagement shoots, try to include golden hour in your schedule so you can capture images that include this type of light.

Related: Are you using these 10 tips to nail the engagement shoot?

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3. Use Spot Metering and Focus

Shooting in light that is less than ideal can create an issue for properly exposing your subjects. Use spot metering to focus on your subject and get the right exposure for them rather than the background. Spot metering is perfect for backlighting, and with a bit of practice, it can become really simple!

In addition to spot metering, try using manual mode when focusing rather than automatic. Sometimes in harsh lighting situations, your camera can have difficulties knowing where to focus, and you can end up with a blurry image. To avoid this, switch to manual mode. It may take you a few additional seconds to capture the shot, but knowing that your image is in focus is well worth it.

Related: Discover 36 wedding day disaster stories from pro photographers, and the solutions to conquer them, with our free guide!

4. Add Flash

Having a flash in your camera bag should be a staple item. We have covered several ways to use off-camera flash in previous blog posts, and when it comes to backlit images, flash can be used in a variety of ways. Not only can it help add light to your subjects when the backlight is very strong, but an off-camera flash can also help CREATE backlight to your images!

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Learn Pro Lighting Techniques

Backlit images can be achieved without a flash, leaving the natural light to give a soft glow or hazy look to the entire image. If your Signature Style calls for a more dramatic image, this is where a flash can really come into play. By placing one in front of your subjects, you will still retain the glow from the sun, along with defining your subjects with the additional light from the flash. Accompanying this light with a stunning pose will thrill your clients and have them excited to share your images with their friends and family.

Tip: If you are shooting on a day where the sun is not visible (or even after the sun has set), you can still create a backlit image for your clients with a little help from a flash. By placing the light behind the subjects, you can highlight them with a gorgeous rim light.

For you to continue to grow as a photographer and diversify your portfolio, mastering lighting techniques is a must. Continuing your education on lighting will assist you in obtaining the skills that you need to shoot in any scenario. If you think that you do not have enough time to learn another lighting technique, think about areas of your business that you can have others work on, such as your wedding photography post processing or album design! The amount of free time you get back from the hours you used to spend on these areas will allow you to master lighting of all kinds!

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During every shoot, there are various scenarios that require off-camera flash to solve a lighting issue or to help you develop dramatic images. How can you control and create light with off-camera flash in any location, regardless of the scenario? Our Off-Camera Flash Techniques for Wedding Photographer Guide, created in conjunction with SLR Lounge, walks through simple off-camera flash setups, the reasons why they work, and how you can quickly use them to transform a location. Download it today!

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