Lindsay Davenport Photography Workshop | Las Cruces, NM

"I really want to put myself out there and begin shooting more. I feel like this workshop has given me the confidence to do that!" - Alexandra
"Lindsay and Jordan really personalized the workshop.  The intimidation factor was not there at all.  I felt completely at ease asking questions." -Leila
"It was so comforting to finish this workshop with the satisfaction of having all my questions answered during the workshop. Lindsay and Jordan are the perfect duo and compliment each other so well as partners in their business. And on top of all of that, Lindsay has already shown so much support of my growth and goals. She has followed up with each of us and is still answering our endless questions and curiosities." -Leah 

"The value I received from the workshop was way more than the payment of your workshop. I learned so much!"- Margaret

Last weekend Jordan and I held our first ever photography workshop geared toward photographers who have just started or who are planning on starting their own photography business. Ummm...PINCH ME! I'm dreaming! These four beautiful ladies blessed us in more ways than they'll ever know! When I started my photography business over a year and a half ago, I would've loved to have a mentor who walked me through those 382057 questions that arise when you're first diving in. I felt alone for so long until I finally reached out and realized there were so many other friendly photographers around me, as well as free and encouraging resources online. I quickly became drawn to the photographers who were an open book, compassionate and genuine. I think this combined with my evident passion for photography made for the perfect combination for teaching a workshop. 

When going on a walk with my dear creative friend Jess (yes, same creative friend I always mention!), she encouraged this workshop idea of mine that I had last semester. Basically because of her encouragement, it came to fruition, and I am so thankful for her that!! Quite simply, this last weekend was more than a blast for me. I got to tag-team lead a photography workshop with my husband in our home.; I got to plan and cook food for more than just my hubby and me; And I got to basically pour out my passion, heart and knowledge to four talented ladies who are eager to dive into a possible photography business. When the doors closed, I had given all that I had. Jordan and I looked at each other, wiped out, and knew we weren't finished there. We've continued to connect with these ladies via our LDP Workshop FB group answering questions and keeping this journey an open book for us all. And we're hoping this isn't our last workshop in Las Cruces either...!

Our day started with introductions and Starbucks' drinks...duh! And maybe they got a little goodie bag with surprises too! It was fun hearing the background and passion of all of these ladies and being able to share ours and how we were recently just in their shoes. Our first "classroom" (not classroom, but more like living room!) session began with covering specific blogs and resources, shooting in manual (ISO, shutter speed, aperture), using memory cards, and other concepts like metering, histograms, bokeh, white balance, crop sensor VS full frame, and RAW VS JPEG. We talked about the differences in lenses and the various purposes ours serve. And on that note, we shared how we steadily saved and purchased our gear. Then we dove into the This was the area I needed a genie on my shoulder helping me along the way! We dove into how to shoot in the shade, on a cloudy day, and backlight your subjects. At this point, we were long-winded and decided to finish up the remainder of the presentation during dinner! We headed on out to begin head shots and the application portion of the workshop! Unfortunately, it was cloudy, so we couldn't implement backlighting. But hey, we're just thankful it wasn't windy for us!! 

The application portion of the session consisted of head shots and a lot of question-and-answer time! We had a couple model for us who was just absolutely PERFECT! Leah even commented that somehow I scored the most comfortable models! Both Kristen, Jason AND Jessica were just beautiful in front of our cameras--and so patient when there were teachable moments! I was proud of how the ladies just stepped right in and started posing them! Jordan and I both helped my answering questions throughout this portion, whether it was lighting, shooting in manual, composition, or whatever questions arose! 

See?! Are they not ADORABLE!? And is Jess not BEAUTIFUL?! I have to give Leah credit to Jess' picture. I love the candid shot she got from Jess here! 

And aren't these ladies beautiful, as well!? They were so much fun! 

After we practiced on our lovely models, we walked back into our home that smelled of yummy taco soup! We ate and finished the first part of the presentation, briefly touching on marketing, branding, pricing yourself, composition, client interaction, and vendors I use! 

AND THEN! And then the Lightroom portion began! Have I mentioned I just love Lightroom? Oh, okay, I have! ;-) We displayed Lightroom on our big screen and walked through every step of my editing workflow. All of it from import to export! I even handed the girls flash drives with screenshots of all of my settings, so they didn't feel rushed to copy everything as we went along! We imported our photos from the application time and touched on every tool and section of Lightroom. And yes, this is where extra time was necessary!!! Everyone seemed to be okay about it though! ;-)

"Power points were extremely detailed and helpful.  The flash drive that was provided is a great asset for reflecting and looking back on all of the topics." -Leila
"Seriously you guys flowed so well with each other! It was like a waltz! Both of you were so helpful and patient and I never felt like I was asking a “dumb” question."- Alexandra

I'm not going to lie...I NEEDED my partner! He impresses me everyday with how photography-savvy and servant-hearted he is. 

All in all, I couldn't have been more excited after we completed the workshop. The girls were so teachable, previously-knowledgeable and just downright sweet. I couldn't have imagined a more perfect group to kick off with. We got to open up our home and share our photography knowledge and passion with some awesome ladies. Success!! On that note, here are some more reviews and images of our beautiful models!!

"Fun. Energetic. Informative. Comfortable. Interactive. Attentive. WORTH EVERY PENNY!"- Alexandra


 "I loved getting to be in your home. It was relaxing and didn’t feel like a classroom!" -Leah


"I had a great experience.  The explanations and patience with everyone was way beyond my expectations. " -Leila


"I feel that you both covered the start to end of the photography business. It makes me feel more confident as a photographer knowing all the steps.  Great introduction to Lightroom!"- Margaret


Jessica, Kristen and Jason, THANK YOU!!!

To get more information about a future workshop in Las Cruces, send an email to to be put on the waiting list! 

A special thank you goes to our models who were so comfortable and patient with us, the Woods' family for letting us use their land, Jess for the little nudge to follow through with the workshop and of course, Jordan for being awesome in all the areas I'm lacking, being a sounding board, encourager and lover, and being my partner in all my dreams. 

Finding the Light: On a Cloudy Day | Part 5

Yay! Another one of my favorite types of light to shoot in! Wait..I feel like I've said that about most of them. I guess that shows you how easily excitable I am with my photo opportunities! ;-)

Okay, so this week we are talking about finding the light on a cloudy day. I first want to point out that this could also mean a partly cloudy day where the clouds pass over the sun from time to time. The main idea that you should take from this is: clouds act as a softbox over your light source. Translation:clouds can be a very awesome thing. They diffuse the harsh light at all times of the day when they cover the sun. Don't be afraid of them!

Negatives of a Cloudy Day

The only negative I see with clouds is that 1) they can potentially be too darkening to where there simply just isn't enough light (closer to sunset or sunrise) and 2) they don't allow you to backlight your subjects. I understand some photographers choose not to shoot on a cloudy day. For example, some photographer's style is backlit and sun-kissed, so they personally choose to reschedule, so they can continue their brand/style. I'm not one of those photographers, because I love that cloudy days give you the availability to face your clients any-which-way you please. Remember that on sunny days, you don't want to face them toward the sun,'s just mean.

Quite to find the light on a cloudy day: shoot anytime and anywhere. In the examples I've posted, notice that they are not backlit, nor are there any hot spots. Most are in an open field that might have required them face a different way had the sun come out.

Do: have fun being able to place your clients facing direction and in any location. This softbox effect from the clouds diffuses the sun and gives you such an even light that's wonderful to work with- almost the same concept as if you were shooting in the shade- evenly diffused and perfect.

Something else to look for are shadows under your client's eyes. If you see this, then add a reflector to give some pop to their face.

Don't: shoot as close to sunset as you normally would. Because it's cloudy, you lose light a lot quicker than when it isn't. You might want to start shooting earlier in the afternoon to make sure you aren't having to shoot at too high of ISOs come sunset time. Your camera doesn't lie! It knows how much light is present whether you can see it with the naked eye or not.

Something else to keep in mind is to stay away from shooting under trees or buildings. We talked about this in our post about shooting in the shade. This doubly decreases the light with it being cloudy and you being under a tree. Remember to look up and see sky; then shoot away confidently!

If You Have To: then go ahead and open up your aperture wide, lower your shutter speed as comfortably as you feel and raise your ISO. Keep in mind when you do either of these that as you open your aperture, you run the risk of losing a family member in the focus plane, you could cause a blurred image due to the slowness (shutter speed), and lastly, you could add grain to your images the higher ISO you go.

To Summarize

And there you have it guys. It's a very basic concept to find the light on a cloudy day. It's everywhere and at a very diffused state. Let a cloudy day be the time you opt to shoot in an open field. But remember to steer clear from already-shady areas- or at least be weary of them! Make sure your histogram reads that you're getting enough light! :-)

Thank you for sticking with us throughout our lighting series. The responses have been super encouraging to receive. I'm glad you guys are applying and learning. Again, feel free to ask questions for any clarifications needed, keep learning and have fun doing so! Come back next week for our last post in the series where we will talk about finding the light when you're inside. Any suggestions for my next series!? I'm all ears!



Finding the Light: In an Open Field | Part 4

Whew! It's been a busy weekend for me! I had fall minis in my hometown of Artesia and while I enjoyed meeting new people and the feeling of fall, I'm wiped out! 

If this is your first time jumping into the series, be sure to check out my first three posts on 1) when to find the light 2) finding it in the shade and 3) finding it in the shade with a backlit subject. If you've been following my series, awesome! I would be super encouraged if you messaged or emailed me a photo you took while applying one of my tips! I just might post a collection of them if I get a handful. ;-)

Here we are, week 4, and we've learned that the best time for lighting is 1-2 hours before sunset or after sunrise. Taking this into consideration is very important when shooting in an open field, because the sun can still be harsh just 5-10 minutes before it sets. For example, if I were shooting in an open field, I would shoot all the way to and a few minutes past the Weather Channel app's estimated sunset time, which today is 6:28. However, if I were shooting near brush and buildings, I might end my session earlier, around 6:15, because the sunlight can be obstructed by the trees/buildings before it sets.

Okay enough rambling..let's get to this! Keep in mind that for the following, I am assuming there are no clouds blocking the sun, and it's a bright, sunshiny day!


1. Find the sun and put your client's back toward it. Make sure they are not looking at the sun, because 1) they won't want to squint looking at the sun! and 2) there could be shadows on their face made my their eyes or nose! 

2. Move 45 degrees to the side of them now. If you shoot with the sun coming directly into your camera, it sometimes can make it hard to focus on your clients. So to solve that, move to the left or right 45 degrees and then refocus on your client. The sun rays are no longer coming directly into your camera, though they are still hitting your client's head. Allowing the sun to come straight into your camera is possible when the sun is closest to setting, because it's less harsh.

3. Watch that glowing light on the back/side of their head (that we talked about last week!), and make sure the front of their face is evenly exposed without hot spots. 

4. Snap away! 

Let me show you what I mean by taking Alyssa's senior session, for example. They wanted to incorporate their super fabulous blue Bronco in her session. So we got to our open desert field in front of the Organ Mountains, but the sun was very bright. The only way to get a picture of the Bronco in front of the Organs was for Alyssa to look straight into the sun. So we go creative! We needed to wait until the sun was lower and softer before we had her facing the sun. So first, we faced the Bronco toward the mountains (we opted to not get the mountains in the first few while we waited). To end our session, we faced it toward the sun (now we had the mountains behind us!) where Alyssa was finally able to look into the diffused sunlight without discomfort. It just took a little patience and creativity in the meantime!

See the differences in the two pictures below? The first is backlit, as I positioned myself at a 45 degree angle from my client and the sun. The second is evenly diffused without backlighting, as she is looking into the sun. 

1) We had the Bronco facing toward the mountains, away from the sun, so Alyssa could put her back against it. 

2) Instead of shooting directly in front of her, I took 3 giant steps to my right (the right of the bronco) and started shooting! If I had been in front of the Bronco, the sunlight would have been harsh directly into my camera. Instead, I moved to solve that while Alyssa continued to have her head backlit.

3) Notice where the sun hits her head and the exposure on her face. Her face is evenly exposed, and the sun is hitting the side of her head so sweetly. 

Next time you find yourself in an open field with bright sunlight, remember to face them away from the sun and take a step or two to the left or right, and shoot at a 45 degrees away from your subject. And good luck! I will be the first to tell you that this light was most difficult for me to understand until I discovered how to position myself in coordination with the sun and my client! Feel free to share any of your tips or experiences with this type of lighting!

Below is an example where I blocked the bride's face from harsh lighting by her husband! Both faces were evenly exposed for the picture. 


Do: shoot with your client's back to the sun.

Don't: face them toward the sun to cause them discomfort.

If You Have To: face them toward the sun to get a background they want, then pose them to where they're kissing each other, looking at each other, or not directly looking into the sun. 

Like below: naturally, they wanted a picture of the Organs behind them, but the sun was going to be directly in their eyes. So we improvised with this pose to make it easier on their eyes, yet we still captured the Organs in the background.

Thanks for joining us!



Finding the Light: Shoot in the Shade with a Backlit Subject | Part 3

Hello again! If you're here for the first time in the series, welcome! I hope that you find these blogs helpful as you continue your journey through photography and finding that light! If you're hanging with me in the series, please know that I'm totally stoked about it. Jordan asked me if I enjoyed writing, and I answered him saying that I like teaching. I like teaching in a way that I need to hear it. So hopefully, you're able to pick up what I'm putting down.

And I'd honestly love it if you shared any "a-ha" moments you experience when shooting because of these posts! Last week we touched on a few things to be aware of when you shoot in the shade. I mentioned that shade is probably the easiest form of light you can place your subjects in, because it evenly exposes them. It's very difficult to mess up (unless you aren't aware of what we talked about last week!). Well, we're moving up in the world and are going to talk this week about placing your subjects in the shade yet still allowing for a beautiful backlit effect


I'm truly excited to share this light today, because I feel like it's something I've just recently found and understood.

1. Slow down.

Basically, the first step in nailing this type of lighting is to: slow down. Slow down, look at the ground you're shooting on, and find the shade. This is what you'll be shooting in. When I first started, I had a million things on my mind: shutter speed, aperture, posing, making my client's feel comfortable, being confident…how could I possibly find the light to backlight them!? After some time, I was able to gain confidence in myself and simply slow down. I think slowing down plus a little dose of confidence helped me to find this incredible lighting, which I believe today is probably my favorite. I get excited to find it. 

. Find the shade & put your clients there. 

Find the shade and put your subject in it. Like I mentioned in the post before, placing them in the shade will evenly expose them. Whether you backlight them or not is now the question.

3. Move your clients around in that shade to find the light hitting their head.

This is where confidence and being comfortable comes in. While you're walking around your location and making small talk with them, catch a glimpse of where the sun is hitting their head. Ask your client to stop where they are or take a couple steps this way or that way, depending on where the sun hits their head ever-so-perfectly to light up their hair. Sometimes I even let my clients know what I'm doing to let them feel confident that what I ask is for the best and will be AWESOME.

Make sure the sun is behind your client. 

For this backlighting to happen, make sure the sun is behind your client's head while they are facing you (see picture above). If it's golden hour without clouds, the sun will be shining on the back of their heads at some point. Keep in mind that if there's a building or a tree in between the sun and their hair, this effect is not possible. 



This lighting is my favorite, because I know that my clients are evenly exposed, due to the fact that they're standing in the shade. Like I said, shade is my go-to! However, when you add that twist of allowing the sun to find the back of their heads instead of it being flat in the shade, it just adds so much beauty, in my opinion! I love seeing those hairs on fire!

Step by step:

In the picture above of Macy, I placed her 100% in the shade. The sun was about an hour away from setting, so it was lower in the sky behind her. While her body was in the shade, the setting sun shone on the back of her head, lighting it beautifully. This exactly my aim in backlit subjects in the shade. If she had taken a couple steps forward, we would have lost this sunlight, just because of factors within this location. That's why being comfortable and vocal with your clients is important when you're aiming for this effect.

I promise that once you find this light for the first time, you're going to see it often. When I found this light during a session, it was a genuine "a-ha" moment for me. It made me realize that I want to utilize that beauty whenever I can. Keep in mind that your ability to backlight is limited when you're in a wooded area as opposed to an open field. The sun will be lost behind trees in the wooded area versus it fully setting in the open field.

Now go play!

My biggest advice is to go outside TODAY, and have your friend, boyfriend, husband, whoever stand in the shade during golden hour. Make sure the sun is able to reach the back of their head and have them move around..A LOT. Get a good idea of how it can change in just a few steps. It's amazing and such a beautiful twist to put on a client in the shade. I'm excited for you all and hoping to hear some "a-ha" moments coming from YOU! 




Do: slow down and be confident when looking for the light and asking your clients to move around for you to nail that backlit lighting on their heads.

Don't: lose confidence and move too quickly to where you're missing an opportune time to backlight your subjects while they're evenly exposed in the shade. 


Stick with us as we cover how to find the light in an open field NEXT MONDAY! I'll share some more examples below! Enjoy!



*When to schedule your clients: shoot during golden hour. 

1. How to find the light in complete shade

2. How to find the light to backlit your clients when they're still in the shade

3. How to find the light when you're in an open field of sunlight

4. How to find the light on a cloudy day

5. How to find the light when you're inside.

Finding the Light: Shoot in the Shade | Part 2

Last Monday I began a series called Finding the Light (part 1), where I talked about the right time to schedule your sessions if you're a natural light photographer. We call this time the "golden hour", which is 1-2 hours before the sun sets. This Monday, I'm going to touch on how to find the light when you're in complete shade. Which…is easy. It's, in my opinion, the easiest lighting you can shoot in. You can look forward to these posts every Monday. In today's, I'm going to bring up just a few ideas to keep in mind when you're looking for this shade. Personally, these are things I tend to look for when shooting in the shade. 

1. Hot spots

2. Blown out background

3. Look up and see sky

Let me start off by saying, once you're a photographer, you will gain a new set of eyes. You know what you're looking for, what not to look for and what can work in a pinch if you're a wedding photographer! When in search for shade, think: trees or buildings. You can find complete shade behind a tree, a building, under a canopy/walkway, or anywhere where there's an obstruction between the sun and your clients, giving you shade. As a photographer, knowing what time the sun is setting is important but so is the direction it's setting. For example, if there's an incredible wall covered in vines you want to use as your background, but the sun is setting in front of it, it will cause your clients to squint, as it's in their faces. However- remember we're thinking SHADE here- if it's setting behind the wall, you've got complete shade for your clients and a great background.

I touched on this a little in my previous post, but I'll go deeper this time. Basically, in my genesis, I scheduled a client for 9:00 in the morning. Such a random and interesting time where the sun is not low enough to the horizon to give off sweet light yet not quite right overhead at noon. I quickly learned: never again. With all the hotspots, shadows on my client's faces and misunderstood lighting probe, I decided never again to shoot at that time. After this point, I then began to place all of my clients in the shade. It just made sense to me. But I did this out of fear. I knew it was wrong to do this out of fear and without an understanding of lighting. But until I gained the knowledge and experience to place my clients in anything other than shade, it's what I overused. Side note, don't get me wrong! Shooting in the shade is still an option I choose at weddings when lighting is fickle. Heck, I use it often during my sessions, because it can still produce incredible shots. BUT personally, it was wrong of me to shoot in the shade for the complete reason that I was scared of the light. So find the shade, and rock it- with full confidence! ;-) 

Then you should continue on to learn more about light. Practice makes super experience. Stick with me; I'll share more about that next Monday! In the picture below, Courtney and Kevin were completely shaded by a building, giving us completely even light. I avoided hot spots, was aware of my background and looked up to see sky. Check, check and check! Read further to understand what I mean by that. 


When do you shoot in the shade? Personally, I shoot in the shade anytime I feel like the sun is too harsh to distribute across/behind my clients. OR when there's a gorgeous background I can put my clients against.

When to avoid shade? When it's yummy golden hour, and you have the perfect opportunity to backlight your subject! Duh. It's only gorgeous. But it was hard for me to learn just how to do this. I'll touch more on this lighting later in my series! 

A few points to think about when you do shoot in the shade:

1. Hot Spots

Do: shoot in evenly distributed shade. 

Don't: find blotchy shade (specially under thin trees) that gives your clients "hot spots" across their bodies, especially their faces. Hot spots are bright spots you see in pictures where the light isn't evenly distributed. They can be across your client's face, on the ground or anywhere in your picture. You might find this type of lighting on their face when you shoot at noon. But we don't mention that, right? ;-) 

If You Have To: place your clients in blotchy shade, use a reflector. An assistant can hold a reflector to bounce sunlight onto your subject to distribute an even light source across their bodies. 

The photo below was taken early afternoon. Where you can see hot spots  behind and next to the subjects, their faces/bodies are evenly distributed. I chose to put them in the shade (under trees), due to the time the picture was taken. 

2. Blown Out Background 

Do: shoot in even shade and be mindful of what your background is. 

Don't: put your clients in the shade while your background is bright. This might be terrible advice, because there are sometimes where you have to do this in order to get those rockin' mountains in then background. I've just learned that when you expose for your subject, the background is blown out white, which isn't always the prettiest. If you use OFC, this would be covered in another blog post, but I do not. Which is why I've discovered something I now look for… 

If You Have To: then find a background full of trees and textures. Take this picture below, for example. It was not golden hour when we took these, because I scheduled multiple sessions back-to-back during the day. However, I knew the sun was at least behind them. She was standing in the shade. Had the trees not been breaking up the sunlight behind her, it would look like a bright white, blowout photo. Instead, I got this creamy, bokeh background with my lovely bride in front! You might not always have this option, but if you must shoot your subject in the shade with your background bright, details are something to look for! 

3. Look Up And See Sky

Do: shoot in the shade with an open sky above you.

Don't: shoot your clients if you can't see the sky above your head. I say this, because I once heard it, and it made sense to me. Previously, I hadn't heard this concept and shot a couple during golden hour (already less light) in a yard with gorgeous, large trees. Needless to say, there was not enough light. Now, whenever I shoot under trees during golden hour, I try to make sure either 1) there's still enough light or 2) I can see a breakthrough of sky where I'm shooting. 

If You Have To: then crank your ISO or shoot wide open. An OCF could come in handy, but we are looking at other options. Sometimes choosing to shoot under a roof, where the sides bring in light, is okay- when you're not shooting during golden hour. The picture below was taken smack-dab in the middle of the afternoon when lighting is harsh. However, there was enough light to creep in the sides and bouncy off of the sidewalk to perfectly distribute amongst my beautiful clients. Needless to say, this suggestion of looking up, is to be considered with other factors, because it can be a lifesaver at times!

Whew, we covered a lot, didn't we? The main point I think you can take away is that shade is your friend. Look for it always in a pinch, but when the opportunity arises, I personally think backlit subjects are gorgeous. Shade is obviously the easiest to find, because you simply 1) determine where the sun is setting 2) find a building/tree/object to block that sun 3) use that shade! It's simple and the easiest form of light you can find. Use it, rock it, build your confidence with it and come back next week for the next part in our series: how to find the light to backlight your clients when they're still in the shade.And then stick with us until the end! Feel free to ask questions that I didn't fully answer in this post. I'm all ears!

Remember, I'm just a photographer learning right along side you. I've just learned from some trial and error, a video here and there, and am open to sharing! 

Joys to you all!


* When to schedule your session.

1. How to find the light in complete shade

2. How to find the light to backlight your clients when they're still in the shade

3. How to find the light when you're in an open field of sunlight

4. How to find the light on a cloudy day

5. How to find the light when you're inside

Finding the Light: Shoot During Golden Hour | Part 1

"Arrive early to your session and explore the location before your clients arrive in order to find the best light!" 

It's hard to find that light if you don't exactly know what it is.

Psh. So easy. Or that's what the articles and videos I read and watched made it seem like. Sure! I'll do that! Fail. For months, I seriously did not understand how to find the right light. Have you mastered the light? Are you comfortable putting your clients directly in the sun? Do you have a million of questions at the genesis of your photography career? I had not, was not and DID.

I'm going to share my solution in this blog series about finding the light. And that's what brought me here. And you to me if you're sitting where I was just months ago. Which…if you do the math, a good chunk of my business was spent with me trying to figure out lighting, because I haven't been in this ballgame too long! My solution was to try, try again. I have a lot to share from simply my trial and error. My trial and success. My hours on the treadmill watching YouTube videos on this topic. Just kidding..that makes it sound like I run marathons or something! 

My purpose for writing this series on how to find the light is meant for amateur eyes- those beginner photographers who had the same questions I once did.

When I started, I had trouble reading articles from advanced photographers explaining how to find the light. I needed a step stool to reach and understand it. And quite honestly, I'm still finding I often need that step stool! I'm no Jasmine Star. But I'm Lindsay Davenport who can relate to many of you out there! 

Throughout the series, I'll share how to find the light in complete shade, in the shade with sun offering backlighting, in an open field with sunlight, on a cloudy day and inside. 

Within these posts, I'll share some of my personal Do's, Do Nots and If You Have To tips.

To top off our series, I thought it would be fit to share the time of day best for shooting. I want to make sure we're on the same page as to when this time is and why it applies to me as a natural light photographer. A natural light photographer is anyone who uses the sunlight as their light source, versus off camera flash (OCF). Keep in mind, this time changes often as our days get shorter and longer throughout the year. 

Two words: golden hour.

Do: shoot during golden hour. Golden is 1-2 hours before sunset. This is the time when the sun light is less harsh and more capable of giving you that yummy light. Check your weather app on your phone for the sunset time each evening, and plan your session time. For example, the sunset today is 7:03, so I'll begin my 1 hour session at 6:00.

Do Not's: shoot at noontime. The sun is directly overhead and can cause harsh shadows across your face if you place your client in the sun.

If You Have To: then shoot in the shade. Put your clients in the shade to avoid hot spots and a plethora of other troubles. I'm speaking from a natural light point-of-view, which does not include using a flash. If you use off camera flash (OFC), then this is different for you! I'll touch more on how to shoot clients in the shade and the do's and do not's within that one aspect of lighting in the next post, so don't miss out!  

Come back for the next in the series as I touch on these 5 topics below. I'm hoping I can answer those dreaded questions I felt like took me forever to figure out! Feel free to ask your questions along the way, and I'll be sure to touch on them in my future posts about lighting.  

1. How to find the light in complete shade

2. How to find the light to backlit your clients when they're still in the shade

3. How to find the light when you're in an open field of sunlight

4. How to find the light on a cloudy day

5. How to find the light when you're inside.

Finding the Light: Backlighting Your Subject | Part 6

Oh hey there! Here we are in part 5 of my series. Oh, you thought I wasn't going to finish it, did you!? Well...I scared myself into thinking I wasn't going to finish it, so thank goodness here we are now! 

If you haven't read the rest of my series, catch up here:

1. When to Find the Light

2. How to Find Light in the Shade

3. How to Find the Light in the Shade with a Backlit Subject

4. How to Find the Light in an Open Field of Sunlight

5. How to Find the Light on a Cloudy Day

My fifth topic was supposed to be on shooting inside. But because a good chunk of the time that you shoot inside requires flash or shooting at a high ISO, I decided to opt out of that topic and further cover a previous topic. There are so many scenarios of shooting inside that I feel like a whole other series would be appropriate. 


That leads me to this post on backlighting to wrap up our series. I had a question from a reader that went further in depth on my second post on shooting in the shade while backlighting your subject. 

Her question was:

"I couldn't quite find those spots for having a little bit of light in the shade. Is it like a hole in the branches that only touches the back of the subject's head?"

Below is an example of placing your client in the shade with the sun hitting the back of their head. They were taken about 10 minutes before sunset, so it was definitely peak time for golden hour. Both images are straight out of the camera (SOOC), so that you can see the difference.  The edited versions are at the end of the post. 

1. I was sure to place her in the shade.

2. I faced her away from the sun to aim for the effect I desired. This allowed even exposure on her pretty face.

3. I moved her around until I saw that dreamy light on her hair and said, "stop!". :-)

4. I shifted my camera up, down, smidge to the left and right (whatever I needed) to hide the sun behind a branch (for photo on right). For the photo on the left, I did not.

The point I want to make here is that by moving ever-so-slightly you can dramatically change the style or effect of your image. These are what you could call two different styles.

The difference between the two:

The image on the left has some sunlight that is directly hitting my lens. Whereas, the image on the right does not; a branch is blocking this sunlight from entering.

LEFT: This image is definitely sun-kissed without the sun being obstructed, or blocked, by the branch. It's not all the time light will come into the camera so softly. A lot of times, it'll be too harsh even when you're standing to the side. Take note that this was taken about 10 minute before the sun set, so lighting was so sweet and soft! Score!

RIGHT: The one on the right is has darker darks and is a little more crisp, because I hid the sun behind the branch. You can still tell that the sun was kissing the back of her head, as her hair is "on fire". Once again, score!

You can tell that I didn't take a step. I didn't move much. Everything in both images are still roughly in the same spot, so this shows you how minimally I shifted my camera. This is what I mean by placing your subject in the shade and moving either 1) your client around or 2) yourself around to nail that effect you want. 

Below are the two images after post-processing. I tend to find myself choosing the photo on the right to edit, but again, that's purely preference! Whatever you feel your style is, go for it and keep on keepin' on! 

To answer the second part of her question: 

Yes, there was a wide gap that the sun was peaking through. I just hid some of it briefly by a branch. However, in the image below, the sun is directly behind my subject, not off to an angle. The branches simply diffuse the light while she's standing in the shade yet still backlit. If I had moved her forward a few steps, I probably would have lost the light on the back of her head. It all depends on the angle the sun is aiming as it's setting.

I'm hoping this might better address how you can use objects, trees, buildings, etc. to obstruct harsh sun from coming into your images. It's not 100% of the time that it makes it looks so dreamy like this!

The best thing you can do is get out there and try it! Am I beating a dead horse with that?? Perhaps try it on someone you feel confident with and can make them your guinea pig model. ;-)

Above all, have fun. It was really enjoyable for me to write this lighting series. It's funny how much you learn from just putting your experience into words. I appreciated all the feedback and encouragement throughout. I'm definitely open for answering more questions, if I'm able, so shoot me a specific one, and you may just find it on the blog!