Looking through our family albums, a lot of the photos are spoilt by harsh lighting. The built-in flash has gone off, lighting faces but creating unwanted shadows. So let me make a plea for turning off the flash and using available light.
You don’t need a studio to take good portraits. The essentials are good light and plenty of practice. This picture is one of a series taken quickly on my son Matt’s 5th birthday. The cloak and crown had been made as presents and he’d put them on as soon as he got out of bed. So I knew there was a chance of a good picture and had my camera ready – an old Rolleiflex twin lens reflex, where you look down into the viewfinder.
Breakfast was the perfect time to try. Matt was too busy eating to be interested in what I was doing. And the light at the breakfast bar was great. To my left there was a kitchen window. Then there was a large patio door letting diffuse morning light into the room – you can see the curtain on the left of the frame. Finally, there was a cream coloured wall to the right. Acting as a natural reflector, the wall softened the shadow on that side of Matt’s face.
If you don’t have a studio or sophisticated flash, don’t despair. Look around you, observe the quality of the light that’s available and take some portraits. I look forward to hearing how you get on.