I am so glad you're here!  This is my little corner where I get to share some of my most favorite images from engagements, weddings, births, my travels and my own little family from time to time.  Hang out, look around, and please reach out to say hello!


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July 9, 2015

Are You Afraid of the Light?

It sounds a little crazy, but when I first started this photography thing, I was afraid of light.  For a while, I prayed before every session that it would be an overcast day because the light would be even, shadows would be at a minimum and it would make my job a lot easier.

But after several workshops, lots of reading online, and one pivotal trip to France for a National Geographic workshop, things finally clicked and I understood what all the fuss was about in regards to light!  Once I realized that when the sun was out and light was literally bouncing around everywhere, it helped eased my fear of the sun being out for sessions.

So, I’m here to tell you to not be afraid of the light!

This garden image below is what inspired this post.  When I came across this spot at a recent bridal session (sorry, you’ll have to wait to see those!), my heart soared!  That light is just beautiful and with the white sidewalk, it provided the perfect natural reflector to light up the bride’s face.  Some photographers I know and love use reflectors on a regular basis.  And they’re good with them!  I use them on occasion, but more times than not, I end up leaving it in the car or carrying it around for an entire session and not pulling it out once.  So, I’ve just gotten used to using what’s around or compensating with my camera settings.

So, with this photo, do you see how the light is coming through the trees, hitting the sidewalk, parts of the bushes and the entire top of the lamp?  Because of the way it’s coming through and reflecting off of everything it touches, the parts of the bushes that aren’t being touched by the light are still distinguishable and not silhouettes.  So, imagine with me that a bride (or a couple or a college senior) is standing on that sidewalk in the middle of the pool of light.  Because the light is bouncing off the white sidewalk, it would reflect back into her face and evenly light her while also giving her a really pretty rim lighting (see image below for more details on this!).

ISO 400, f2.2, 1/800 sec


The day of Hannah & Wes’s engagement session ended up having more clouds than I’d hoped for.  But, we were also in a wooded area, which caused things to be a little darker anyway.  So, when I saw the light popping through the trees, I think I got a little extra giddy and asked them to quickly go stand in this spot!  With the sun behind them, you can see the glow of the rim lighting around their heads and Wes’s arm.  The light is also what is making the bokeh (the blurry background) all sparkly and pretty on the right side of the image.  This is called backlighting and it’s one of my favorite ways to utilize the sun!

And since light fills every space and bounces off anything it comes in contact with, it’s actually bouncing off the sand and the stones they were standing on and throwing some of that light back towards their faces so that they’re well lit from the camera’s perspective. See, isn’t that much easier to understand when there are people in the photo??

 ISO 800, f2.8, 1/640 sec


Holly & Ben’s wedding ceremony took place in mid-afternoon, so their First Look was around noon.  Normally, this is the least ideal time of day to shoot outside, but it helped that it was January and not middle of the summer because it meant that the sun wasn’t directly overhead.  If you look on the right side of the photo, you can tell that the sun is hitting them both from that side because their arms, his hair and her face are brighter than the rest of them.  You can also tell by Holly’s shadow on the ground which way the sun is coming from.

My strategy for shooting in mid-day light is to have my ISO really low so that I can still shoot with my aperture fairly wide open.  The other thing I do is to try and have their backs or sides to the sun so that they aren’t squinting (or aren’t squinting as much) as if they were facing the sun.

ISO 100, f2.5, 1/800 sec

photography-light-Cliffs-Glassy-103 I am by no means an extensive expert on light.  However, if anyone has questions, please leave them in the comments below and I will answer them in the comments in the next few days!  I used to be so scared of shooting when the sun was out, but now it’s one of my favorite things!  My best advice is to just practice…  It’s actually easier to achieve brightly lit images if you’re shooting in Manual mode on your DSLR because that will give you more control over your final image.  So, if you aren’t shooting in Manual yet, use my settings above as a starting point and branch out from there!

  1. Kristin Mangin says:

    this was really helpful! Thanks Sabrina!

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