It may come as a surprise to some of you but I didn’t start out to be a people photographer. Back in the day, when Mary and I opened our studio, we divided the workload: She photographed people and I photographed things, mostly architecture and some products.
Every now and then because of scheduling and availability I would shoot a few business portraits but people were really Mary’s game. When she took an extended sabbatical from day-to-day operations, things changed and after looking at some of the new glamour photography appearing on the Internet I got interested in photographing people, especially women but had to start from scratch after selling all the lighting equipment because “I was never going to photograph people. That was when I learned to never, say “never.”
So I started using available light and one of my favorite techniques for outdoor portraits is using backlighting. Want to try it? The next time you plan to photograph somebody outdoors, place them in the kind of position you might normally use with the sun on their face but then turn them around. Right away the subject is more relaxed because the sun is behind her and she won’t have to squint! Next turn on your flash, whether it’s built-in or a speedlight, otherwise she‘ll be a silhouette. In order to get a final image, you may have to open the lens a few stops over the metered exposure.
Most people think that the way I made the above photographs is that I was walking down the street saw this woman and asked her to pose for a picture, made a quick snapshot and kept walking. Nothing could be further from the truth. After a wardrobe consult and 40 minutes in make-up, I asked Farra to pose next this wishing well in a friend’s front yard. This is one of 28 shots of different poses, angles, and in-camera cropping made with my EOS 1D Mark II N with EF 28-105mm lens. Exposure was 1/200 sec at f/7.1 and ISO 200 with a 550EX flash used as fill.
Joe is the author of the “Available Light Glamour Photography.” that’s available from Amazon with some of their associate vendors selling new copies for just $9.99 plus $3.99 shipping. The money we make from affiliate marketing with Amazon costs you nothing but keeps us online, so thank you for your continued support!