March 2021 // The Senior Edition

How to Use Natural Light for Modern Senior Portraits | Carlee Secor


Knowing what the sun looks like during certain times of day and times of year will help you tremendously. The sun sets in the west and rises in the east, so if you’re photographing at sunset you’ll want an east- facing location and vice versa for sunrise. During different seasons the sunset tends to look different and may move slightly. I only shoot two hours before sunset for this reason, and YES I plan every single shoot around sunset. BUT there are certain times where it’ll be really cloudy and I’ll move a shoot up or reschedule for that reason. A cloudy day vs. a sunny day sunset looks completely different. On a cloudy day you’ll lose your light much quicker. Since backlit images is a style I’ve consistently stuck with, most of my clients request that specific golden hour look in their photos. If it’s extremely overcast, it’s out of my hands. I have no issue moving dates to sunny days to please my clients. It’s so important to communicate to your clients the reality of the weather and how it’ll affect the end product.

When looking for light, you want to find a location that has trees, buildings or foliage to “break the light.”An open field with no trees will be harshly backlit. It’ll be hard to photograph your subject in focus because the sun will be too overpowering, even during the last two hours (or less) before sundown. If you’re constantly wondering why you can’t achieve that backlit look, it’s because there’s nothing to break the light. This is what I look for in all my locations, and I won’t shoot at locations that don’t have good lighting. This is why I always choose the locations for my shoots, because I know where the light will be best.

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