The importance of light



Photography is the Capture of Light.

Light is so important to photography.

Light has the power to convey emotion and feel, and also depth and dimension.

As a photographer, It is imperative that you have a firm understanding of how to use light in the way you want, and also how to find and achieve the type of light you need.

Being a portrait photographer, it is so important that I seek out and find good light for my images.  Otherwise, my clients are less inclined to purchase the images and I am less likely to get additional shoots!

Good light will differ with each shoot or each image, depending on the type of mood and feel you want to convey.  So learning how to achieve the light you are after is so important.

To begin, I want to start by discussing the difference between soft and hard light.

Understanding these two types of light, as well as how to achieve each, will help you decide which type of light will work best for the type of session you plan to shoot and the feel you plan to achieve.



Soft light is light that is just that, soft.  It can be light that has no shadows at all, or light that has some shadows where there is a smooth, soft, gradation from light to dark.  This type of light gives a feeling of peace and serenity.

Take a look at the images below.  They are examples of soft light.


family brick wall soft light

senior girl soft light

bride and bridesmaid brick wall

engaged couple soft light


Notice on the images how there is a shadow side and highlight side to the face.  The gradation between dark and light is soft.

This is soft light.

This type of light is very flattering and helps to soften skin and make blemishes less noticeable.  This type of light also helps to give dimension to the face, allowing the viewer to understand depth in the image.



Hard light is light that is hard, with sharp gradation from dark to light.  Hard light conveys a feel of moodiness or excitement, depending on the emotion in the image.  Take a look at the images below, they are good examples of hard light.


girl sitting in dark hard light

cowboy on horse with lantern hard light

girl leaning wall hard light

girl runner finishing race hard light


Notice on these images the sharp gradation from shadow to highlight.

This is hard light.

On the last image of the runner, see how every detail in her skin is brought out by this type of light.  If you are wanting to show the detail in skin, then hard light is a good choice.  If you are trying to soften skin, then choose soft light.

Depending on the type of image you are trying to create, you will want to use soft or hard light.  As a portrait photographer, my main focus is finding, and shooting in soft light, and that is what the main focus of this course will be.

Let’s get started.  Click ‘outside’ below to learn about creating great light when shooting outdoors.


Learn how to get awesome light anywhere!


Great photography begins with great light, so it's imperative that as a photographer you learn how to find and capture great light.

My FREE online course is self-paced, so learn at your own pace and schedule.

Sign up now to get started, and learn how to get great light no matter where you're shooting.

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