Sunshine vs. Cloudy Days

Photography literally means “painting with light”. Good light can make or break a photo. Five years ago, I would’ve said that good light wasn’t important; moments are all that matter; a good photographer can shoot in any kind of light. Now…I’ve kind of changed my mind: light is important, the best moment in blah light can be kinda blah, and while I still agree that a good photographer can shoot in anything…she may not want to shoot in anything!

You know how farmers are pretty picky about the weather? One week we want rain because fertilizer was just put on…and the next week we need sunshine and 90 degrees so the corn will grow. Well, photographers can be that way too! I desperately want sunshine at golden hour or if it’s a small family or senior. I pray for clouds if it’s a daytime wedding or extended family. One time, a friend didn’t believe me when I said there was going to be a certain type of weather on a certain day at a certain time. Then it when happened, I reminded her that photographers are like farmers…I can tell you the weather for at least the next week and whether it will be sunny and how much the wind will blow!

There’s two types of light I try to avoid. It doesn’t mean I CAN’T shoot then…it’s just that I prefer not to. Outside, I’m not a fan of full sun. It’s harsh, shadowy, and doesn’t always give me the look I’m going for. Much of life does happen in full sun though…I just know that the photos may not look like “me” whether I am shooting for myself or for clients.

This session was shot at 10 am on a June morning. Far from ideal, but sometimes extended family sessions have to take place at a certain time. The first photo is in full sun/no shade. See the harsher shadows on faces? It’s a hard balance between blowing out parts of the image vs. getting rid of shadows. The second photo was shot in a bit of shade by a retaining wall. And it was a tiny bit of shade! Extended families really need lots of shade if the session will be held during the day!

My favorite time to shoot is golden hour with sunshine. I love the way the light wraps around my subject and I love the sparkly bokeh that comes through the trees and grasses. I seriously get so happy when editing a session with golden light! I’m a bit jealous of places that get more sun than we do! These photos were all golden hour with sun.

I don’t always let the sun take over, but I do love some awesome flare! In a gallery, I usually include a few photos with lots of haze/flare but always more where faces are clearer.

When golden hour isn’t possible, I actually pray for clouds. A cloudy, overcast day is like a giant soft box that diffuses the light! It’s great for extended families with large groups or certain backgrounds they want – such as these lake/river photos. If the sun had been out, It would’ve been too harsh on their faces. Cloudy is also awesome for families with active young kids who are running all over the place!

Also, look at the difference in these photos with clouds vs. sun! It was much harder to shoot without blown highlights or deep shadows once the sun came out!

When scheduling your session, keep in mind full, mid-day sun vs. golden hour! While I will shoot when you need me, they might not look like what you are used to seeing on my website.

The other light that I don’t like is overhead lighting – most of what is indoors. This applies mostly to my personal work. I’m constantly turning off lights when I’m photographing my kids! I tried to find an example of overhead lighting that I don’t like and I couldn’t find one in my personal work for the last two years…that’s how much I don’t like it 🙂 But, see the difference in how it looks in the top photo vs. the next one?

If I do have to shoot with overhead lights on, I almost always turn it black and white 🙂

That’s just a quick run down of different light! And right now, the sun just came out for my session tonight and I’m super happy!