Portraits—It’s The Shadows That Count

Keeping up with my New Year’s resolutions, I’ve been studying the flash 101 course from the Strobist.com.  I have almost gotten to the point where I actually get to shoot some pictures.  Along with the studying of the technical capabilities of the flash itself, it is important to really look at light itself and you as the photographer.  Way too many flash pictures look like mug shots or “deer in the headlights”.  Adjusting your lighting to match the mood of the image and the features of your subject makes for a far more interesting photo.  This image of my friend Harney uses some very strong angular light raised above him.  He is pretty “craggy” and the shot captures him.  If I tried to use this on my wife, it would definitely not win many points.  For her, nice soft light can still provide definition, but in a gentle fashion.

For more dramatic looks, creating definite shadows can highlight the eyes or create a more mysterious effect. 

Knowing what you want to accomplish before you look through the viewfinder is a huge step towards making photographs and away from just taking pictures.