The days with pretty sunlight are soon gone! If you live in a Country where it gets dark during fall and winter I have good news for you. You can still create beautiful photos!
In my upcoming photography course I teach all about shooting with natural light. I never EVER use a flash. Not even in the darkest time during winter – and that´s a challenge because it can get pretty dark in Denmark.
I used to panic when winter came. Afraid I would not be able to do my work. I tested shooting with flash, rented a professional photo studio – but it´s was not for me – not my style.
I adore natural light and with time I learned that it´s possible to capture beautiful photos even in low light conditions.
As winter is slowly arriving, I share my best tips to shooting in low light.
Five Tips for Taking Photos in Low Light
1. Shoot in RAW
The photos on this page was all shot during times with little daylight available. In most photos I will emphase the darker mood in the photo, but sometimes I also make it as bright as I can for a more clean and fresh look – it´s possible as long as you shoot in RAW. When you work on a RAW file in Lightroom or Photoshop ACR you can really brighten the photo a whole lot without loosing quality. I´ts magic. It´s a lifesaver! Use the exposure slider, the shadow slider and the white slider to lift the shadows and brighten the photos.
2. Raise ISO
I remember when I was a beginner in photography I was told that I should always keep ISO on 100 for best image quality. That´s true, but also a very limiting rule to follow. One of my tips is to play as much with ISO as you can. Take some test shots and notice how high you can take ISO with your camera without seeing to much noise in the photo.
This knowledge will help you tremendously when you shoot in low light. During the darkest winter hours I often have my ISO set to around 800 or 1200 ISO. It´s very different from camera to camera how well it performs with hight ISO settings, so it´s important to test it. Play with it. Don´t be afraid – ISO can be your new best friend.
3. NO FLASH – Use window light
Never turn on artificial light in the room when taking photos, it will add yellow tones to your image. Also avoid any type of flash – especially on-camera flash. Simply use window light. Make sure to place yourself as close to a window as possible. The bigger the window the better, but a small window can do the job as well. Your photos might look dark when you look at the back of your camera, but don´t stress, you will do the last work in post production.
4. Use a tripod
If you use a tripod for stability you can allow the camera to let in even more light, without the risk of getting unsharp photo. When the camera is stable and out of your hands you can lower shutter speed + aperture . This will give you brighter photos and a tack sharp photo. Remember to use a remote so you don´t touch the camera with your hands.
5. Edit in RAW
This is by far the most important tip! As long as you shoot in RAW, you can do wonders in editing. No matter if you use Lightroom or Photoshop ACR you can get amazing results. When I shoot in low light I allow my photos to look darker on the back of my camera than I normally would accept.
When I look at the back of my camera I can see what´s going on in the image but I can´t see any details because the image is to dark. Then when when I get the photo into my editing program I immediately raise Exposure to take a closer look at the image quality. From there I do my normal editing.
In my photography workshop I include ALL my SECRETS on how to edit your photos like a pro. My tricks are EASY to learn and everybody can do it!
Are you feeling stuck with your photography business? Are you just starting out and not sure how to build your dream business? Then read on as I answer a letter from one of my dear readers who is in that situation.
I got this letter a few days ago and with permission from the person who wrote it; I´ll share it with you. I think many photographers will be able to relate to Francine´s situation.
I rarely read into someone’s blog as much as I have yours lately. I was searching on Pinterest to help pass some time and a post led me to your blog. I haven’t felt as inspired by any other photographers blogs/books/u-tube videos ect.. And believe me, I have been researching this to death.
I’ve taken photos for years for fun. If their was an event or just a family member being silly, there I was with my camera. However in 2011, the idea to start a photography business kind of planted a seed in my head, and after weighing pros and cons, I started my company.
I love photography. If all I had to do all day was to take pictures and play with photoshop, I would be one happy camper 🙂
Where I’m located we have more than 75 local photographers, so clients are scarce and usually wanting a great deal or wanting to know in what ways I can cut them a deal. This would be because they are all friends of family members.
I’m no-where near where I want to be in photography, I have much to learn and I’m happy to do that. I know success wont grow from an average photographer, but I’m having the hardest time finding my edge.
I’m asked to photograph families A-LOT, some younger children photo sessions, one newborn, a couple boudoir, some sports, events and seniors, but mostly family sessions.
How I got into that I have no idea because I don’t think that’s my strongest area. By being asked to photograph a variety I thought I would find what I truly loved photographing, but the truth is I just love taking photographs period.
Having said that when I look at my portfolio on my website the pictures start to look bland because no matter what I shoot they look the same, and that’s no fun 🙁
So my question is this:
If I truly love taking photos and being creative then how can I find my niche in a tough competitive market when I keep getting asked to do photos that I don’t believe represent my best work?
For example if I just wanted to shoot weddings, how do I get the chance to try when I haven’t had the opportunity? And I’ve ventured thru the friends of family members area, so far…… my work isn’t going very far.
I even tried to do the Groupon thing and that didn’t work out so well, lol. I would like to get out there and start shooting, but I seem to be stuck.
I tried looking through your courses but all seem to be booked, so I will keep an eye out for any new classes opening up, until then if you get the chance to respond that would be great!
I´m so happy you decided to reach out and share your story, because I know that so many photographers can relate to your frustrations! You are not alone with your thoughts and feelings.
I´m going to give you some straight from the heart – direct and heart spoken answers! My solutions may seem scary to you at first – but they are solutions that work and also the strategies from how I run my own business.
So firstly….let´s get one thing straight….
“NO” is going to be your new favorite word!
One of the things you will need to implement in your vocabulary is the simple word: NO! Saying no is necessary to turn you current situation around.
I investigated your website and your Facebook page and I notice that you are a VERY kind and sweet person – a person with a BIG heart and love for making people happy – am I right?
But sometimes in our thrive to make other people happy we forget ourself – we make to many compromises – we end up doing to much stuff we really don´t feel like doing!
All the time we spend on things we don´t really want – but do to please others (and make them like us) take focus and time away from the things we really, really want – like building a successful business and photographing what our hearts desires.
The reason why we are afraid to say no, is that we are afraid that people will think bad of us – it is the human fear no. 1! But by realizing that the word NO will help us create the life we truly want and helps us be around people who love us despite the fact, that we sometimes say no – then it get´s easier to say it!
So Francine, lesson no. 1 is to say a loud and clear “NO” to photographing friends, families, free sessions and everything you don´t want to photograph. You can´t build a top notch business, doing this. If you don´t want to be a family photographer, then say NO next time a family wish to book you.
You ask me, how you can compete when there are so many photographers in your area – and they all fight to deliver the best and cheapest offers.
Well, to be honest this is the direct way to failure. Many photographers think that they need to offer everything like; weddings, newborn, kids, families, business portraits ect. BIG mistake! Then they think they should compete on price and sell themselves cheap. Also BIG mistake!
So Francine what you need to do is the opposite – scary right 🙂 But this is also where the fun begins!
You need to STOP competing with other photographers, trying to do everything. Just do your own thing. This means finding your niche = one thing that you focus on. Fx. Weddings or boudoir (or whatever you decide.) Then secondly you raise your prices.
As it is right now, you try to be good at everything, but no one can be good at everything – as you say yourself: “success wont grow from an average photographer” and as long as you say yes to everything – you´ll be stuck at average.
It´s decision time – time to pick a niche (it can be one or two things – but each field needs it´s own website). Ask yourself what makes you most happy to photograph? And don´t say everything, because I know it´s not true…smile… pick the one thing that makes you feel playful, creative – something that makes you forget about time and place. Don´t choose what others ask of you all the time if you are bored with it.
Choose something that will make you jump out of the bed in the morning.
If you wish to go for wedding photography, but have no experience, then ask a wedding photographer in another area than where you live, if you can assist her/him for a few weddings. You don´t get paid, but you´ll get experience and photos for your portfolio.
You can also hire models and borrow wedding dresses from a shop or a designer, that way you can create a look-alike wedding and some beautiful portfolio pictures. Go out and make some great new contacts that can help you towards your goals.
You will find, that no matter which niche you choose, you will grow quickly because it´s the only thing you need to focus on and learn bout.
Yep, I read all about your pricing….and all I can say is; raise them at least 3 times the amount! You are charging way to little. Have you ever wondered what kind of messages you send to your costumers when you have so small rates?
It´s a signal that you don´t value your own work or time!
Try to count how much time you spend on one session from the first phone call to the last picture is printed and delivered – it´s a lot of hours, right! You need to get paid for each hour. Decide that you want to get paid for every hour you spend away from your family.
In business and life you need to hold your head up high and be proud of what you do and the work you deliver! Especially you Francine, because you truly put your heart and soul into your work – I can see that in your photos.
By raising your prices you´ll send a message, that you believe in your own worth and it will make people value your work even more.
Besides when you raise your prices you often get better clients – clients that are fun to work with and who are dedicated to making great images with you.
Raising your prices does not make you arrogant! Raising your prices does not take you out of business!
Raising prices, will make you shoot less/work less for the same money as before. The extra time created by this, can be spend on getting better, branding yourself or simply taking time off.
My advices in short
Say NO to what you don´t want to photograph.
Choose a niche and specialize in your field, you´ll grow fast and become great at what you do.
While you build your niche, create a new website with a new niche portfolio. Just 25 pics are enough to get you going with the new business.
Raise your prices. Show that you value your work and time.
And last but not least – use the transition period to brand yourself.
The changes you make has a transition period. The time you have left because you don´t shoot everything anymore, is going to be spend on branding yourself; locally, via a blog and on Facebook. (you are doing great with your Facebook business page btw).
I know these where some tough answers, but I know you can do this – don´t be afraid to take these steps – be afraid not to take them, because it will make you sublime at what you do, it will give you a job you love and a successful business.
Don´t you just love those weekends, when you have all the time in the world to slow down and do whatever you like?
I´ve been pampering myself with yoga and alone time in the kitchen making homemade Thai food. I also spend a few hours looking for delicious recipes on my favorite blogs and instagram feeds.
Today I´m sharing 12 inspiring foodies to follow on instagram. Some of them I´ve followed for a long time and some are new accounts I´ve recently found. They are all super amazing! Beautiful photography, incredible styling and mouthwatering food! Enjoy!