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LightPhoto2 SuzetteMcIntyre

Professional Photographer Suzette McIntyre share tips on taking great photos. 

Have you ever been flipping through a magazine and a photo on the page makes you stop a little longer and contemplate it? What is it that made you stop? What is it that makes a dynamic photograph?

I will tell you right from the start its not about the camera. I’ve seen absolutely stunning images that were taken with a cell phone. This article is also not about what lens, aperture or shutter speed to use. Those things are important, but its not what makes a photograph stop you in your tracks.

What is it then? What is it that separates a good image from a great one?
What is it that makes an award winning, jaw dropping photo?

There is one ingredient absolutely essential to a creating a great photograph. Without it, you don’t have an image.

The ingredient? LIGHT

To prove this point, look at the two images below. The first one was taken in a classic pose, mid day with clouds. For the second one we waited until the warm, low light of sunset and had the couple put a little more mood and emotion into the pose. Can you see the difference? There’s more texture, more mood and richer color.

LightPhoto1 SuzetteMcIntyre   LightPhoto2 SuzetteMcIntyre

Elliot Erwitt, one of the most prestigious photographers in the world once said,
“All the equipment in the world will not compensate for the inability to notice”

If you want more dynamic images, ditch the excess gear and start paying attention to light. Photography literally means ‘Painting with Light’
As you go through your day, study the way light affects EVERYTHING.

Here are 8 exercises to expand your awareness of light and help you begin creating DYNAMIC photos:

1. Watch how light falls on people, objects and buildings. Make ‘photo notes’
2. Shoot an object at sunrise, noon and sunset, note how the light, color & shadows change.
3. Observe how shadows expand, disappear and grow again as the sun moves across the sky.
4. Shoot an object directly into the sun to create a silhouette .
5. Do a night shot of an object, using the full moon as your only light source.
6. Do a city shot at night, using an off camera flash or spotlight on your subject.
7. Use a candle, flashlight, window, and computer as the only light source on a subject.
8. Make a ‘photo journal’ and enter each of these exercises in your journal noting the times of day, what type of light source was used.

The more you experiment and practice, the more you’ll discover how different types of light enhance the MOOD of an image: Lighting SuzetteMcIntyre
You’ll also find through observation and practice that light is the direct influence on color, form, line, shape, texture and value. Without light, none of those 7 elements of art will be effective:

PhotoExamples SuzetteMcIntyre

So, to wrap it up today, remember the definition of our topic:
Photography:  Painting with light.

If you practice these exercises and begin observing and photographing the effects of light on your subjects, I promise you that your images will take a dramatic turn to the dynamic!


Suzette McIntyre is a professional photographer and co-author of Beauty Surrounds Us: A Words & Images Coffee Table Book

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