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The Importance of Lighting in Photography

A novice rock climber pushes through sweat and blistered palms to conquer his first summit. A woman celebrates her twenty-seventh birthday after beating cancer and going into remission. A father beams with pride as his little boy reels in his first big catch. These are all moments that epitomize what it means to be alive. Photography allows us to capture these instants to treasure them forever.

We know enough about it to understand that photography is an art form that revolves around taking pictures. But what many people tend to underestimate is the incredible attention to detail it requires to do it successfully. One particular element, lighting, helps photographers accentuate subjects, shape perfect shots, and clarify images to tell the story of a moment.

Read on to learn more about why lighting is of the utmost importance in photography.

Light Positioning and Your Subject

Professional photographers aren’t your run-of-the-mill smartphone cameras. The best in the world spend years learning the ins and outs of what makes a well-composed picture. So when it comes to lighting, they don’t simply look for a well-lit room.

Instead, they position light sources to accentuate their subject, whether it’s a landscape, person, or place. The best photographers understand that the origin of the light they use in a shot can drastically impact the way a subject appears. For instance, suppose your light originates from behind the camera and points directly onward.

If so, it’ll give the picture a very flat sense of lighting. This is often what makes subjects look washed out. On the other hand, when your lighting comes in from the side or in different directions, it accentuates your subject’s shape by casting a partial shadow and creating a sense of dynamism.

Manipulating Light To Clarify Images

The importance of light in photography also has to do with the way photographers manipulate light to clarify images and bring their vision to life. There are various ways to control light, from using instruments like photography reflectors and diffusers to adjusting or measuring the brightness of LED lights used on a shoot. But what’s the point of light manipulation?

We’re glad you asked. Essentially, when the lighting in a space—be it natural or artificial—isn’t to a photographer’s liking, they turn to creative problem-solving to get their shot. There could be numerous reasons why lighting isn’t working. For instance, it could be too bright or too weak.

It could also be that the natural light in a setting makes the shot rife with shadows, muddying an otherwise clear image of the subject. In short, proper lighting often means the difference between an incredible photo and one of poor quality. That’s why light and its manipulation are vital for taking beautiful pictures of a subject.

Final Thoughts

Photography is much more than just taking pictures. It requires great skill and attention to every last detail in a shot, including light. And when you consider that you can manipulate, shape, and position light to get the perfect picture, its importance in this unique and exciting art form only becomes more apparent.

Hopefully, we provided some valuable insight into how the proper lighting can turn basic snapshots into breathtaking photos that express the fullness of life.

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Written by Logan Voss

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