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Photographing family: using natural light

Welcome to the first of our monthly Photo Club blog posts written especially for parents! We know that you are often the ones holding the camera so we wanted to create a series of simple 'things to think about' when you are the one photographing your family.

Let's start by talking about LIGHT. For us this is the thing that makes or breaks an image; the way light interacts with the subject and the environment can drastically change the mood, atmosphere, and story conveyed through an image.

The quality and direction of light influences the mood and atmosphere of a photograph. Soft, diffused light creates a gentle, dreamy ambiance, perfect for romantic portraits or serene landscapes. On the other hand, harsh, direct light can evoke drama and intensity.

A girl holding up a leaf in the sunshine

Most of the photographs that you take of your family will be at random times of the day, so here are some of the best ways to tackle difficult light:

Look for shade

If you're outside and the sunlight is harsh, look for shade! As a general rule, shade is more flattering (and also stops family members from squinting). It also prevents long shadows being cast on the face - lines and blemishes are going to be softer than in direct sunlight.

Child backlit by sunlight


Backlight your subjects if you can. This involves positioning them with the sunlight behind them. Backlighting can be a difficult skill to master but one you should practice if you want really impressive pictures of your children as the light will give a halo effect and pick up catchlights in their hair.

Teenager sitting in the window frame

Use window light

If you are photographing family members inside, use as much window light as possible. This might mean moving your subjects closer to the window and front lighting or side lighting them.

Let the light IN!

Open doors, curtains and windows to let more light in especially for photos inside. This is an instant way to create pockets of light, allowing our cameras to use the light more efficiently.

Use golden hour light

Finally, if you are hoping to capture a more posed family picture and you have the choice about timing, our advice would be to use the golden hour light (the hour just after sunrise or the hour just before sunset). This is when the sun is at a lower angle in the sky and makes light much softer, more flattering and gives a beautiful sunrise or sunset glow on the skin.

Girl dancing on the beach

By observing the light in your environment (both indoor and outdoor) you can start to make the most of it to change the quality of your images and transform them from ordinary to something beautiful and print-worthy!

Any questions about capturing light? Let us know and we'll come back to you!

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