Heather Quintans Photography » The best Seattle newborn, child, family and highschool senior photographer.

Creating Gorgeous Lighting for Seattle Senior Photo

How To Create and Find Gorgeous Lighting for Seattle Senior Photo

Gorgeous Lighting of Seattle Senior PhotoPINTHIS

Warm Sunset Lighting Full Sun

What makes a great senior portrait?  Weighing all the different elements that go into a photoshoot such as locations, clothing, lighting, cameras etc., the single factor that effects a portrait more than any other and is overlooked by many newbies is the quality of the light. Whether that light source is from the sun, a reflector, an on camera flash, or a strobe, how it is ultimately directed toward the subject is one of the most important skills a photographer has in Creating Gorgeous Lighting for Seattle Senior Photo.

The different factors of the way light glows on a subject’s face or contours with strong shadows, the coolness or warmth of the light temperature, and the size of the light source itself all are important factors and effect the overall quality of the final image.

Controlling the light is not always easy when the photographer’s light source is millions of miles away, but by choosing  the time of day to shoot you will ultimately have more consistent results.  When I schedule a senior photo session in and around the Seattle or Eastside areas after we decide on the location, time of day is established to photograph the senior to create a beautiful portrait. Let me explain further and why a sunny day isn’t necessarily the best lighting.

When shooting an outdoor environmental portrait, the strongest and largest lightsource is the sun.  Generally more flattering light is early in the day or closer to sunset, this is because, direct overhead light contributes to “racoon eyes”, harsh shadows created by the light source directly overhead casting a shadow from your forehead.  There are several ways to modify that, but its generally better to work in a different light than super sunny contrasty light for portraits.  (If you are squinting at the camera, it’s probably not going to make for a great senior portrait.)  The light tends to be a warmer tone later in the day as well, and that is very flattering for portraits.   I have an app on my phone and I’m always checking the sunset times when I’m scheduling my sessions.  We are actually fortunate in Seattle that we have cloud coverage as that acts like a giant softbox for portraiture. that will be completely effected by the cloud coverage that we may or may not haveI ask my clients to be somewhat flexible at our start time, so we an start a little earlier or slighting later based on Gorgeous Lighting of Seattle Senior Photo

While the sun tends to be the largest source of light we can choose to use that as our main source, and modify it for photography purposes to reduce or increase the light.  Some of these modifiers are scrims which are big giant orbs that can  filter a strong light, add more light, or redirect light back into the subjects face.  I’ll even stand at a certain location from my subject so that my long shadow creates a filter on them.

Another light source I use often is a fill light.  This is a great tool to add just a little catch light and even out lighting on a face.  It can work well when backlighting or even front lighting when the tones are uneven.  Fill flash, is not your traditional, flash on the camera-red eye, overpowering flash, it’s an off camera light that is modified usually with a softbox to cast a soft even light on the subject.

Here’s some tips to think about when scheduling the senior portrait photography session in the King County area to maximize the best lighting:

  • check the sunset times, work about two hours before sunset for very flattering portrait times
  • Find locations that work well mid-day, alleys, open light from tall buildings can work real well too.
  • check the weather, know if a storm is potentially rolling though, a little rain won’t hurt us, but digital cameras are not as forgiving
  • scout your location in advance at similar time of day: helps define best location to shoot at or avoid if the light doesn’t work
  • check the Seattle schedule to see if there are any conflicting events. A parade scheduled downtown Seattle can be a little tough to shoot around
  • Pack extra equipment: bring scrims to block of light, extra flashes, and an assistant is you can grab a friend to assist


High Contrast Background- Mid DayPINTHIS

High Contrast Background- Mid Day

Gorgeous Lighting Senior Photo SeattlePINTHIS

Back vs Front Lighting Senior Photo

Seattle Senior Beautiful PhotographyPINTHIS

Soft Light near sunset. No flash

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