Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Best Light for Taking Photographs

Last week I blogged about the virtues of natural light photography and location shooting for actor headshots. Locations allow me to offer my clients a variety of looks, and natural light is extremely flattering. This is all true, but the weather gods have been testing my resolve this winter. Even by northeast standards, this has been a cold, wet winter.

The irony is that the winter light is by far the best of the year (excluding blizzards in Times Square). The sun is low in the sky so it creates long shadows and beautiful back light. The air is extremely sharp, and so are the photos. After every single shoot I want to add one of the photos to my website - that's how beautiful the light is. Here are a few headshot examples from last week, which was extremely cold but very photogenic-

But what if it's just too cold, and the client really can't handle being outside? This happened on Monday. I was shooting Chloe Hurst, a beautiful actress from, ready.... Australia. It was about 25 degrees, and I don't believe Australia ever gets below 60 degrees. This is her first NY winter. She was incredible, and gave it her best try.

We shot about 200 photos before her hands turned bright pink, so we changed course. Of course, I took a lot of shots in my natural light studio.

Since I'm a variety junkie, I really wanted to give her several different locations to choose from. So we got creative. Locations don't always have to be outside, but they do have to be interesting!

What if the conditions are even more extreme, and it's actually snowing? Once again, studio shots and creative locations work well. But why look a gift horse in the mouth? Get out in the snow and take a very unique headshot. How many of these do you think a casting director will see in a day?

I think every headshot photographer, even the misguided studio light photographers, should brave the outdoors for their clients on snowy days. It seems like we'll have lots of opportunities this winter. The snow does something magical. It brings us back to our childhoods and reminds us how alive we can be. That's exactly the energy you should have for your headshots. Enjoy the winter! Before you know it you'll be sweltering in the summer sun.